Sunday, 19 October 2014

One thing in opposition, another in power

Readers of this blog will know that one thing I dislike the most in politics are hypocrites. I have more time for people who are consistently wrong in my eyes but at least have the conviction to stand true to their principles and beliefs.

The latest case of double standards falls to the new Independent Party leader of Southend Council Ron Woodley. Back in December, parts of the town were graced with the Conservative looking leaflet from Ron Woodley on their doormats claiming, as he has done repeatedly, that borrowing under the previous Conservative administration was 'out of control'.

You can imagine my surprise when looking at 6.6 of the Treasury Management report which went to Cabinet recently, in Cllr Woodley's name, which contained the following line:

"The current level of borrowing is also in line with the Council's prudential indicators and is prudent, affordable and sustainable"

As this report covers quarter1 of the current financial year - a period when the Conservatives were in control of the Council, shows the outrageous lengths that Cllr Woodley went to deceive the public on the issue of Council finances.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Trouble At Mill

It would seem all is not well in the Southend UKIP camp. Still smarting from not securing his party's nomination for the Rochford & Southend East seat no doubt, the UKIP Group Leader James Moyies took to the Echo to bizarrely criticise local businesses for securing grants to boost new local jobs and apprenticeships.

Just a few days later, a readers letter appeared from UKIP councillor Lawrence Davies completely disagreeing that grants to businesses are a bad thing. A somewhat thinly veiled attack on Cllr Moyies. With such divisions now public, it is clear why Cllr Moyies didn't secure the nomination. It will be an interesting spectator sport to see if the UKIP divisions grow.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Shoebury Libraries

After the new Independent Party led coalitions first real decision was to axe Cory, the town's refuse collector, their second decision, after all the fanfare of a review, was to, er, agree with the last Conservative administration on library provision in Shoebury.

I am pleased that Shoebury will receive a new library and the elderly and vulnerable will still have access to the mobile library - it is just a shame that thousands of pounds of taxpayers money was spent on a review to come up with the same decision.

What this whole episode has shown is the hot air and lack of moral compass from Shoeburyness Independent Party councillor Anne Chalk. When as a councillor, I had to endure the endless hours of her pointless tripe that she espoused on saying that she would fight to save Friars Library and through her leaflets, how she would be taking this through Council. Anne even managed to find time to write a rare blog post on the issue.

When the Cabinet rubber stamped the decision last month, Anne had the opportunity to ask the Scrutiny Committee to review the decision and ask for Cabinet to have another look. A quick glance at the agenda for Monday's meeting shows that the item isn't even up for debate. So much for Anne taking this through Council.

This decision not to pursuit the matter comes as no surprise as from the correspondence I have seen, she has been slapped down by the leader of the Council on this issue. So much for being an Independent! So everyone, after me, let's sing follow the leader, leader, follow the leader.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The NHS Needs Saving - But From Who?

It never ceases to amaze me that political parties seem to 'own' certain areas of policy. The NHS is one of those areas which will be one of the key issues over the next seven months.

There is no escaping the fact that current opinion polls suggest that the public currently trust Labour the most on the NHS when all recent evidence should suggest the contary. For example, Labour have not one current MP with clinical experience. The Conservatives have Seven - five GP's and two nurses.

The main Labour attack line is 'the NHS is not safe in Tory hands' is often used to try and insinuate that a Conservative government would privatise the NHS, whilst conveniently forgetting that it was the last Labour government that brought private enterprise into the NHS.

To get an idea of what the NHS under a Labour government would be like you only have to look at Wales, where the NHS is a devolved power to the Welsh Assembly - currently under Labour control.

For the last four years they haven't hit an A&E target. Waiting times are up, waiting lists are up and quality is down too.

The last time the urgent cancer care treatment was met in Wales was 2008. There is no cancer drug fund and recent figures suggest that 14,000 Welsh cancer patients seek treatment in England every year because of Labour's NHS cuts. To top it off, the Welsh ambulance service has missed its call-out target since 2012.

Let's not forget the Sir Bruce Keogh report which uncovered failings at 11 hospitals under the last Labour government where thousands of patients needlessly died. Or Mid Staffs, the hospital where up to 1,200 died on filthy wards with patients begging for water and drinking out of vases.

Yet the Labour government operated culture of ‘cover-up’ where targets were more important than people and ministers’ reputations more important than care.

This is sadly, what we will get under Labour. Cuts to our NHS, longer waiting lists and all the problems we saw at Mid Staffs Hospital repeated all over again.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

2015 Local Election Candidates Selected

At a recent selection committee, Rochford & Southend East Conservatives have selected the following candidates for the 2015 Local Government elections:

Rochford District Council

Barling & Sutton - Cllr Mike Steptoe
Foulness & Great Wakering - Cllr Colin Seagers
Rochford - Cllr Keith Gordon

Southend Borough Council

Kursaal - Alex Bright (Former Southend Youth Mayor, who if elected, will be the first person to have served on both Southend Youth Council and Southend Borough Council)
Milton - Cllr Jonathan Garston
Shoeburyness - Roger Hadley
Southchurch - Cllr Ann Holland
St Luke's - James Cottis
Thorpe - Jon Bacon (The owner of Ocean Beach restaurant)
West Shoebury - Cllr Derek Jarvis
Victoria - Denis Garne (Former Southend Labour councillor)

Following the selection, James Duddridge MP commented:

"I am delighted that the local Conservative Association have selected a strong team to fight the 2015 local elections.

We are fortunate that not only are we seeking to return some exceptionally experienced councillors, we also have new candidates joining our local team who will work extremely hard for the local community.

I look forward to joining candidates on the campaign trail to return a Conservative Government and Conservative administrations locally in Rochford and Southend".

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Och Aye The NO

It was a relief yesterday morning to wake up to the news that I was still British as I knew it and that relatives of mine would not be considered as foreigners in their own land. For me, there was no joy in the result but sheer relief.

Relief in that despite of piss poor NO campaign and the shambles in the way the terms of the referendum were negotiated that the good people of Scotland rejected the break-up of the UK and the anti English bile of the SNP.

The terms of the referendum should never have been as they were. I accept that a referendum was the right thing to do as the SNP government elected to Holyrood stood on a manifesto pledge to give a referendum on independence but as a vote for independence would have had massive implications for the whole of the UK I believe all the UK should have had a vote.

It is absurd that an EU national living in Scotland had a vote but a Scot living in the rest of the UK did not. I believe the referendum question should have been 'Should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom'. This would have allowed the pro Union cause to campaign for a positive YES vote on all the good aspects of being British.

The only aspect of the subsequent Referendum Act in 2012 for Scottish independence that I agree with was allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote. From the campaign that I saw it could be argued that this age group were making more informed decisions on the way they would vote than some the adults! I believe it will not be before long when 16 and 17 year olds will be given the vote for all elections.

You can see why David Cameron allowed the referendum all on Alex Salmond terms. He thought it would be a walk in the park and that subsequently Alex Salmond would be finished. OK, Alex Salmond resigned as SNP leader and First Minister yesterday. There were always going to be casualties following the outcome. It there had been a yes vote, let's be clear, it would have been curtains for David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

The NO campaign was hopeless. This campaign has been disastrous not only for the PM but Labour too. The NO campaign was run by Labour and funded by the Conservatives. This was dry run of the Labour 2015 election campaign. What was quite revealing as the results were coming through was that it was the Labour heartlands that voted yes to Independence. Glasgow, the UK's third largest City and Labour heartland voted for independence. Yet Alex Salmond's own constituency voted against!

When the opinion polls two weeks ago showed the YES campaign ahead, it sent the three main party leaders into panic as they rushed to Scotland effectively offering the voters a bribe of Devo Max and the retention of the Barnett Formula without asking parliament or the English public who would be funding the bribe.

The disaster for Labour here is that the English Devolution and so called West Lothian question genie is now out of the bottle. If Labour go into the election not supporting these constitutional reforms, I believe it will be electoral suicide.

The Scottish referendum is not the end of the matter, it is merely the end of the beginning. I hope the PM makes good his promise on resolving the West Lothian question. What I do not want to see is the idea of regional governments resurrected. I accept devolution is also asked for when there is distain for the national political class but we do not need another layer of politicians. What we do need is further powers being devolved to local government.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Do As I Say Not As I Do

This week, the local Rotherham Star newspaper ran a story that a local Labour councillor will face internal party disciplinary action after he was caught checking the cricket score of the war of the roses county match between Lancashire and Yorkshire during a debate on the Rotherham sex scandal.

The story was picked up by the website bloggers4UKIP outraged at the actions of Cllr David Barker. We can only therefore assume that UKIP councillors are above this sort of behaviour. Well, not quite. At the last full council meeting before the summer recess, local Labour blogger and my fellow opponent in West Shoebury, Matthew Dent, broke the story that newly elected UKIP councillor for Kursaal Lawrence Davies, was organising a game of Monopoly whilst the council was discussing the closure of care homes - a sensitive local issue.

Unlike Labour who are taking action over Cllr Barker's actions, local UKIP leader James Moyies has done exactly nothing. A bit like what he has done for the residents of West Shoebury since being elected really.