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Friday, 22 May 2015

7 Days A Week NHS

Of all the manifesto promises made by the Conservatives during the election campaign, the one which seemed to go under the radar is the pledge to make the NHS a 7 day a week service. Following a speech made by the Prime Minister this week on the subject, bizarrely, the Royal College of Nursing threatened strike action.

Whilst looking at some data over the past few days, there was the startling stat that you are 16 times more likely to die in Hospital on a Sunday.

Under the current arrangement, you need to fall ill between 9-5 on a Monday to Friday. I feel desperately sorry for those who need to see a doctor or have toothache out of hours or at the weekend as getting access to any of these is nigh on impossible.

In the east of the town, to get access to a GP out of hours or at weekends the only chance of seeing one is the St Luke's walk in centre. There was an article in yesterday's Echo that the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group are proposing to close the St Luke's walk in centre and 'relocate' it to A&E at Southend Hospital. This was confirmed in an email that I received today.

You really have to wonder at the interlect of those making this decision. The whole point of devolving NHS services into local communities is to take the strain of A&E departments. The Shoebury Residents Association have been campaigning for a local Shoebury Health Centre, a cause that I fully support, for precisely this reason.

Residents are acutely aware of the parking problems at Southend Hospital currently. Sure relocating the St Luke's walk in centre here is only going to exasperate the problem. Also, those who rely on buses to get to Southend Hospital from Shoebury are aware of the difficulties.

I have been assured that this item will be debated at a scrutiny meeting in the future. A 7 days a week NHS that delivers local NHS services can not come soon enough. In the meantime, I will doing all I can to fight the proposals to close the St Luke's walk in centre as not only those in St Lukes, but also residents in Shoeburyness and the east of the town rely upon it.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The New Shoebury Library

Within minutes of being elected, I received an email informing me that work will shortly begin at Shoebury Youth Centre to create the new library for Shoeburyness. Both Thorpedene and Friars Library will remain open until the new library is operational.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the AGM of the Shoeburyness Residents Association. At this meeting, councillors were asked to give an update on the new Shoebury library works. It was during these discussions, that the Shoeburyness Independent Party councillors claimed that Friars library will still remain open once the new library is operational.

Eagle-eyed readers of this blog may be remember that this was also a claim made by former Independent Party councillor Anne Chalk during the election campaign. As this information was contrary to the Cabinet decision, I decided to investigate further with officers at the Council.

The information that I received was quite revealing, confirming my understanding that the Council will not be maintaining a Council-run library at Friars once the new library opens. There was of course the option of Community Groups running a library provision at either Thorpedene or Friars once the new library opens. As yet, officers have not received any applications from Community Groups to run a library provision at Friars.

I will let readers draw their own conclusions.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Essex Property Assets Map

Every now and then there is a little snippet from the mountain of press releases that is worthwhile sharing. Today, there was the release of the Essex Property Assets Map which offers a simple way to search, by location, public sector assets across Essex, enabling people to find the information they seek very quickly. The Essex Property Assets Map can be accessed here.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Move Over UKIP, Here Come Southend Independence Group


After the separation, we now have the divorce as the three expelled/suspended UKIP councillors have now formed their own group Southend Independence.

According to an article in Friday's Echo, it would appear that their first action will be to join the Rainbow Coalition. On a leaflet that I delivered on polling day, it warned that if there wasn't a majority Conservative Administration there would be a rag tag coalition running the Council. We now have the Independent Party, Labour, Lib Dems and Southend Independence (UKIP) running Southend Council.

From this new grouping there are two questions which need answering. Firstly, we have heard much noise from Labour councillors about their opposition to UKIP. Are they happy with the arrangement of being in coalition with what are effectively UKIP councillors in all but name.

The second is Southend Independence Group agreement of supporting the Administration in exchange for a review of car parking charges. It is worth remembering that only a few months ago, the UKIP rebels voted with the Administration to increase car parking charges on average by 11% and in some areas by 20%.

I would imagine that the Leader of the Council is still holding his belly from the laughter at Tyrone Road Towers if Southend Independence can be brought off that easy. They seriously must think that we are all stupid.

Shoeburyness Cake and Craft Fair

Sunday, 10 May 2015

1999 - But No Party

After finally catching up on the last few sleep deprived days, this is the first opportunity that I have had to thank the residents of West Shoebury who put a cross by my name last Thursday and re-elected me as a councillor for West Shoebury.

Whilst it is an honour to top the poll last Thursday, I have to say that I have very little appetite to celebrate the result. If the truth be told, I shouldn't have been elected. It was only due to the resignation of my former colleague Liz Day, who passed away on the 23rd April, that I was a candidate at these elections.

Liz's sad passing caused a 'double header' election in West Shoebury. Liz had a year remaining of her term of office and it was my colleague Derek Jarvis who was defending the four year term. How the system works, whoever tops the ballot wins the four year term with the candidate who finishes second taking the remainder of Liz's term of office.

If there was any justice in the world it should have been Derek who topped the ballot. When the result was declared at 14:30 on Friday, I suppose it was a quirk of fate that Liz's funeral had started half an hour earlier. Liz, this victory is for you.

Now the real work starts. I want to re-assure residents that Shoebury Common in safe in our hands. I pledged that it will be residents, not the politicains who will decide what flood defence scheme happens at Shoebury Common and will work constructively with the Administration with the current on-going review.

This week, I intend to meet with officers to discuss the apparent lack of progress on junction protection and road safety schemes which have been agreed by Council.There are a number of pockets of fly tipping across the ward which will be reported first thing tomorrow morning.

One cast iron guarantee that I can give residents of West Shoebury is that they will get the representation that they deserve.

Southend Borough Council Election

Following the local elections last Thursday, this is the current state of the parties on Southend Council:

Party                            Seats                                 Change

Conservative                   22                                        +3
Inspendent                      11                                         -2
Labour                             9                                   No Change
UKIP                               5                                   No Change
Liberal Democrats          4                                          -1
Green                              0                                           0