Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Do As I Say Not As I Do

I stumbled across an article from the Leigh Times on the 14th July 2009, which I thought deserved a little mention, as those who live in the East of the town may not be aware of this fortnightly paper. There was one section in particular which I thought I would share. It goes:

"I say self serving very pointedly at Mr Amess; he claims in his article '"my own objective in entering politics was to make a real difference to the community I was elected to serve". Would that be the community in Basildon that he deserted in 1997?

"Many would argue this was purely for self serving purposes? Mr Amess came to Southend West ahead of the Labour landslide knowing he would lose his Basildon seat; he had a good chance remaining in Parliament coming to Southend West.

"There are many angry, deserted and disgruntled people in Basildon and Southend following what become known as his 'chicken run' to his safe seat".

The author of this article was none other than the 'chicken runner' himself, leader of the Independent Party Cllr Martin Terry, who has deserted his residents in Westborough to stand in Thorpe as he believes he will lose his Westborough seat in 2015. Just fancy that!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Useful Idiots

Whilst out delivering my latest newsletter this morning, I had an interesting chat with someone considering leaving UKIP and returning to the Conservatives.

It seems UKIP now have a national strategy of trying to convert all councils from the Cabinet to the Committee system. They see it as the easiest way of retaining some element of control and impact when the current popular protest vote recedes. They recognise it does nothing for the people they represent but is all about power.

They now have a name for the Lib Dems, and Labour, Useful Idiots. The UI’s as they are know are used and manipulated to meet the UKIP agenda. Which sort of makes sense because the lib Dems in particular are desperate to cling onto anything that resembles success. But what a way to conduct politics.

Easter & Spring Waste Collection Dates

Extra Cash For Local Roads

I was delighted to hear yesterday that the Council has received and additional £273,418 from the Government to repair roads in the borough. The emergency funding will be used to repair roads that have been damaged by the recent sever weather. The Council will publish information on their website by September 2014 showing how and where the money will be spent.The money is in addition to the £157,000 already announced last year for carriageway repairs.

Southend Conservatives Yellow Advertiser Advert

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pie In The Sky Idea

The name Boris Johnson is synonymous in this part of the world with a Thames Estuary Airport. Whilst I have a lot of respect for Boris Johnson, especially in his ability of appealing to a lot of non Conservative voters, the one area that I fundamentally disagree with Boris on is his passion for a Thames Estuary Airport.

This week, I was delighted to re-iterate my, and the Council's, opposition to to a Thames Estuary Airport at Cabinet.

My opposition relates to the damage that such a proposal would do both economically and environmentally to not just Southend but real damage here in Shoebury.

It is a little known fact that the only political party having a Thames Estuary Airport as official party policy was UKIP.

On page 12 of the UKIP 2010 General Election manifesto was UKIP policy of opposing a sixth Heathrow terminal in favour of a 'Hong Kong style' Thames Estuary Airport. Now, if you try searching for the document you will not be in luck as UKIP have pulled the document from their website following closure scrutiny of some of their more crackpot policies just recently. Not one for being defeated, I have managed to obtain a copy:

You would have thought that the impact that such a proposal would have here in West Shoebury and across Southend, that any UKIP candidate seeking to represent Rochford & Southend East would be bitterly opposed to such a policy would wreak so much havoc on Southend and West Shoebury.

Unfortunately, it appears not. Having looked through all the literature for the UKIP Rochford and Southend East candidate at the 2010 General Election not one single word was written in opposition to such a policy. Who would the candidate be I hear you ask. Step forward my old foe James Moyies the UKIP candidate here in West Shoebury. A man who lives in the ward that he and his party seeks to destroy

Latest West Shoebury In Touch Newsletter

Friday, 14 March 2014

New Crossings For Elm Road Roundabout

At the recent Debate Shoebury VII, students from Shoeburyness High School were debating with me and officers the need for safer crossings at the Elm Road roundabout.

During the debate, the students explained that they had carried out research into the issue and had managed to achieve funding of £40,000 from the Road Safety Foundation for two crossings on the Elm Road and Caulfield Road near to the roundabout.

Yesterday, I was delighted to give the students from Shoeburyness High School the opportunity to present the proposal to members of the Traffic & Parking Working Party so it could be formally approved.

I was only too happy to support this measure as were in fairness my fellow ward colleagues and all the Shoeburyness ward councillors. The proposals will now be subject to statutory consultation.

There is no doubt that this was an exceptional achievement, one which I doubt will be bettered. I mentioned last night that young people in this town, collectively, get a hard time, but the students who obtained this funding gave us a reminder of the exceptionally talented young people that we have in Shoeburyness and Southend.    

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Waste Consultation Reminder

For the last couple of months Southend Council have been asking residents what they want to see in the new waste contract from 2015. The consultation is open until tomorrow (10th March) for you to have your say. The survey can be completed here.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Budget Full Council

By recent standards, the budget Full Council was a short affair finishing at 22:30 as recent Full Council meetings have continued into the early hours of the following morning.

Short in time but not short of incident or talking points. No doubt, the main talking point in the local blogsphere is the comments made by Cllr Holdcroft to Cllr Woodley. Despite pledging to remain silent during the budget debate, for which I would have happily coughed up £10.00 for charity, Cllr Woodley stood up and told the chamber that that the budget:

"was a good budget, extremely clever budget, excellent but the damage done in previous years"

During the summing up of all the budget debate contributions Cllr Holdcroft responded to Mr Woodley by saying:

Councillor Woodley: “An extremely good budget, extremely clever budget, excellent, damage done in previous years”. I suppose that would include the year that he supported our budget because he bought a chair of scrutiny in exchange, but no doubt that was far more important than the best interests of the budget.

After a short recess, Cllr Woodley demanded an apology. Cllr Holdcroft refused and quite rightly. This relates to the memorandum of understanding the Conservatives signed with the Thorpe ward councillors. Remember, this memorandum of understanding was only agreed after the leadership elections following the 2012 local elections when the three opposition parties could not agree to form a coalition. The Lib Dems sat on their hands and refused to support Cllr Woodley's leadership nomination allowing Cllr Holdcroft to remain as leader and the Conservatives forming a minority administration.

The context of the agreement also has to be understood. This agreement was only signed as Cllr Woodley was upset at not receiving Lib Dem backing for his leadership nomination considering he endorsed the Lib Dem leader during his re-election campaign and to realise his ambitions for power.

The memorandum of understanding gives an undertaking that we would offer the chairmanship of the scrutiny committees to the opposition parties. in 2012, the reality was that the only opposition nominations put forward for scrutiny chairman positions were Cllr Woodley and Cllr Kaye, an Independent Party member at the time. In this current Civic year, there were no further nominations than the existing scrutiny chairs so they were duly elected.

In the context of the national climate it was a good budget. It offered a freeze in Council Tax, parking and leisure charges for hard working families, investment in street lighting, flood defences, primary school places and our roads and footways.

The opposition tactics were somewhat odd. On occasions there was even lavish praise for some of the budget items. Yet both Labour and the Lib Dems voted against the budget despite producing no alternative budget or amendments. The Lib Dems leaders speech he even suggested that Council Tax should be increased.

The Independent Party leader Cllr Terry gave a 20 minute lecture on council borrowing but was promptly reminded what a lame duck leader he now is when over half of his group voted to support the budget containing council borrowing. The proceedings from Thursday night can be viewed here.

Trouble On Sea - Part 2

In Thursday's Echo, it didn't escape my notice the latest hand grenade lobbed into the Independent Party Civil War by Anne Chalk - this time using a Jack Palmer as her human shield.

Now, before I get the inevitable questions, I have previously had correspondence from Jack Palmer who has never hidden the fact that he is a supporter of Anne Chalk.

I give odds of even money that a letter will be published next week in the Echo from a Mr Carr in Shoebury High Street giving criticism to Cllr Woodley and praising Anne.

Dartford Toll Crossing

Last Friday, I chaired a meeting of the East of England Regional Transport Forum held at the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. I was hoping to get a sneak peak of film studios but unfortunately they were in production of a top secret new film. I asked if it was Chicken Run 2 based on the true story of Southend councillor Martin Terry and his abandoning of Westborough for Thorpe.  Warner Bros. could neither confirm or deny.

During the meeting, I received an update on the Dartford Toll Crossings. Although against the wishes of most, charging for the crossing will remain but the good news is that the toll booths will be removed in October 2014. It is envisaged that charging for the crossing will operate in a similar way to the London Congestion Charging.

In my opinion, removing the toll booths is welcomed but long overdue. Removing the toll booths can only help ease the misery faced by many who have to use the crossing on a daily basis.