Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Med Heading For East Beach?

Fresh from his four different views on East Beach it would appear that Cllr Assenheim has finally lost the plot over East Beach.

In yesterday's Southend Echo Cllr Assenheim was quoted as saying that he wants Palm Trees to appear on East Beach.

A mole inside the Civic Centre told me that Cllr Assenheim and Comrade Anne Chalk attended a meeting regarding the East Beach improvements.

My mole tells me that all is not well between Cllr Assenheim and Comrade Chalk as a row erupted regarding trees on East Beach.

Apparently Comrade Chalk wanted 'English' Trees while Cllr Assenheim wanted Palm Trees. The report in yesterday's Echo quoted Cllr Assenheim as saying that portfolio holder Cllr Anna Waite will consider the idea. My council insider tells me that this is not true as Cllr Waite claimed that Palm Trees were not, rightly, suitable for East Beach.

Following their bust up it seems that Cllr Assenheim 'won' the battle as Comrade Anne Chalk has published on her Shoebury News website that 'A councillor wants Palm Trees on East Beach'.

Oh what fun it must be in the Independent Party!

Are They Really Independent?

Following the last full council meeting before the summer recess a letter appeared in the Southend Echo from Cllr Martin Terry leader of the 'Independent Party' on Southend Council.

In his letter Cllr Terry goes on his usual rant that a whip was applied to all Conservative councillor's on the night.
Cllr Terry get away with murder in the local press possibly because he is fodder for the local media and can be relied upon to be a rent a quote to fill their content.

I have been a councillor for nearly four years now and I have never had a whip applied to me. I have also been the councillor who has probably sided with opposition members the most out of all Conservative councillor's.

Further on Cllr Terry argues that party politics should be removed from local town hall's. If we were to accept Cllr Terry's point then I presume that Cllr Terry will hand back his leaders salary that he receives for being leader of the Independent Party and stop with immediate effect using council facilities to hold Group meetings.

I mean, how can you hold group meetings if you were elected as an Independent? With seven elected councillor's I feel that the media need to scrtinise the activities of 'Independent' councillors.

While they face so little scrutiny it enables councillor's like Mike Assenheim (Independent Party councillor for Shoeburyness Ward) to have four different opinions on the issue of East Beach for example.

The Independent Party have been rattled of late as they come under scrutiny. It is little reported that at least three of their members were Labour Party members within the last five years!

Labour Link Removed From Shoebury News Website

Following mounting pressure Comrade Anne has bowed to public pressure and removed the decitful link to her Shoebury News website, designed to entice Labour supporters to her website.

Just in case Commie Anne tries to deny this nearer the elections here is the damming evidence.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Congratulations Chloe

Due to watching Spurs playing in the Wembley Cup over the weekend I offer my belated congratulations to Chloe Smith who was the deserved winner of the Norwich North By-election on Friday.

Chloe at 27 will be the youngest Mp in the House of Commons which made me think back when to when I was elected to Southend Council 3 years ago.
Aged just 26, like Chloe, I was also the youngest elected member on Southend Council a position that is currently held by Cllr Ian Gilbert who represents Victoria Ward.

David Cameron has already publicly stated that Chloe is exactly the type of person that parliament needs. I agree that Chloe is extremely bright but I do not believe that just because somebody is young and into politics then should automatically be given a seat to contest either in Parliament or Town Hall's.

I believe that people should be selected and ultimately elected based on ability and not just because you are young, female or an ethnic minority.

Southend is quite groundbreaking in that there are a large number of women who are members, at one point had two members under the age of 30 and has two ethnic minority councillors who, I must say, were elected on ability.

It's A Fair Cop Comrade

I notice that today's Southend Echo is running a story in which Inspector Jeff Appleby is backing the £350,000 improvements to East Beach. This is welcome as the whole scheme was created to improve residents lives who live near East Beach as they have been plagued with noise and anti-social behaviour for years by inconsiderate users.

This scheme now have the back from residents associations, the police, conservative councillors and James Duddridge MP but curiously I do not understand why the Independent Party don't support the concept.

A couple of weeks ago I got a tatty and poorly produced leaflet from Comrade Anne Chalk. Normally only Comrade Anne puts her contact details on her leaflet but intestingly a name going by Louise Willcox appears on the leaflet.

Mrs Cox who has great intiuition and believes that Ms Willcox may have decided to stand against me for the Independent Party.

I have blogged here previously about Commie Anne's shoeburynews website. After a little digging I discovered that website links directly to the Anne's shoeburynews website.

It is interesting that at least three of the Independent Party have previously been members of the Labour Party. Knowing this does MS Willcox still support the Independent Party cause? Or is she just another disgruntled Labour Party member who has jumped ship?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

All the fun of Full Council

After a nice long weekend away so Mrs Cox and I could celebrate our first wedding anniversary I am back in the world of blogsphere.

Just before my trip to the West Sussex coast there was the last full council before the summer recess and councilllor's jet off on their hols.

Normally Full Council is nothing more that opposition parties to score political points of the Conservative administration and Cllr Terry to jump on any passing bandwagon moving through the Civic Centre which he thinks makes him look good and wins votes, but this Full Council was very different.

Due to be debated was the Dog Control Orders, which included banning dogs from beaches for the summer months and there was also the small matter of 30 questions from members of the public - a record I'm sure.

Of the 30 questions there were four from Comrade Anne Chalk and her gang regarding East Beach. Before we got the matter of dog control orders we had a small debate regarding Grammar School's - a subject that I have blogged on previously.

It is still my deep held view that some school Head's are politically motivated when it comes to Grammar School's and if they do not believe in the Grammar School system then they will not encourage children to take the 11+.

They were some passionate speeches given by some members and yes whilst I agree that Secondary School's have improved and there is an element of parential choice this isn't the only reason why only half of the Grammar School places are taken from kids in Southend.

What really shocked me more was the comments made by Lib Dem leader Graham Longley especially as he was a former teacher himself.

Cllr Longley made the comment that the only reason why parents send their children to Grammar School's is because the secondary school's in the town are rubbish. Well I would like to remind Cllr Longley that we have the excellent Shoeburyness High School in my ward under the stewardship of Sue Murphy.

For some members the Dog Control Orders was the biggie for the night and in terms of bizzare comments and actions it certainly didn't disappoint!

1. We had Dim Leb, sorry Lib Dem, Cllr Barry Godwin who said disgracefully that all the town's dog owners care more for their dogs than they do their own kids.

2. Independent Party Councillor Ron Woodley said that the beach of Thorpe Bay was a beach that can only be used by beach hut owners and Thorpe Bay residents. I don't why Cllr Woodley doesn't just a moat around Thorpe Bay, declare independence and it The People's Republic of Thorpe Bay!

3. Lib Dem Cllr Lewin voted for the Dog Control Orders but voted against them in scrutiny a week earlier.

4. Lib Dem Cllr Crystal also votes for the bans but sat on his hands at scrutiny

Intrestingly the vote was 27-13 in favour of the Dog Control orders and had cross party support but more worringly we spent more time debating dogs on beaches than our children's education! Shame on you all.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Particular Variety of Lib Dem Bull****

A funny story appeared in today's Western Morning News, a local newspaper in the West Country from Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Sally Morgan, who will contest the newly created Central Devon seat.

Sally was also a Lib Dem county councillor on Devon County Council but lost her seat during the Conservative landslide victory on 4th June.

Still annoyed at loosing her seat, dear old Sally took offfence at Lib Dem HQ telling her how best placed the party was for the next General Election. Following a tip off from a little Yellow Bird here is the email in full.

Dear Cowley St and Campaigns Dept.

Please do not employ apparatchiks to telephone me at home to tell me how well the Party did in the local elections only days after I and many of my colleagues lost our seats.

I do not appreciate being told how the public decided to teach Gordon brown a lesson nor that a General Election is around the corner and we have never been in a better position.I no longer subscribe to that particular variety of bullshit.

I was particularly taken aback to be asked if I would make a substantial donation and increase my standing order. Is that not the equivalent of frisking a mugging victim for any more pickings?

The party has benefited from several thousand pounds of my money as well as my blood, sweat and tears and yet the Party chooses to spend such money on employing ‘organisers’ whose sole purpose it seems is to forward centrally-generated emails that I have already received.

I would happily save the Party thousands of pounds a year by offering the services of my 11-year-old daughter who would be more than capable of performing such tasks for the price of a tenner and a few bags of Haribo cola bottles.

They obviously do little else as I have not seen sight nor sound of such organisers for many, many months despite being a Parliamentary Candidate.

Perhaps the Party thinks PPCs who are councillors and mothers have not time for such fripperies. The lack of support would lead me to believe so.For that reason I’ve cancelled my, already generous, standing order and when my membership expires in October the Party can sing for it.

Yours, with bugger all left to lose.


I suppose loosing her seat had nothing to do with her performance as a local councillor?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Scrutiny Week

This week is scrutiny week with the three main scrutiny committee's meeting this week to have an indepth look at some of the council's proposals which originate from the cabinet.

On many occasions the scrutiny process in my view is either little understood by some councillor's or abused as many questions asked are quite detailed and can only be given via a written answer and some councillor's like listening to the sound of their own voice.

My view is that councillors should ask the technical details before hand and if they are still not happy then ask follow up questions at scrutiny. This would improve and allow for a better scrutiny process as it is a very important function.

One of the scrutiny committee's I serve on is Children & Lifelong Learning. We met on Monday and had arguably the best scrutiny since I was first elected a councillor.

We had an excellent presentation from the Youth Offending Service and I have nothing but admiration for the work that they do in combating Youth Crime.

The most interesting part of the night was a report written by officers which produced the most up to date school organisational data.

Not very interesting you may think but hidden in the report was the startling fact that only 8 children from state primary schools in Shoeburyness went to a Grammar School last year, especially when more than half of the places in the town's Grammar Schools went to children outside the borough.

We have some exceptionally talented kids in Shoebury who should be competing with the best to obtain places in Grammar Schools.
It is clear that not enough preparation given to children who want to take the 11+ and this needs to be addressed immediately.

It was clear from the data that primary schools which pushed and promoted Grammar Schools had high numbers of children passing their 11+ and obtaining places.
I also think that some primary schools in Shoebury and Southend are politically motivated and do not believe in Grammar Schools, to the detriment, sadly, to some very gifted children.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Is Football Being Punished Beacuse High Taxation Levels?

As a passionate football fan I for one can not wait for the start of the new football season. This has been a exceptionally short close season (1 day actually because of the UEFA U21 Final finishing on Monday and the qualifying rounds for Europa Cup started on Wednesday) but is the time when all football fans look at who their club brings in during the transfer window and have optimism for their teams chances this season - until they are thumped 5-1 at home that is.

What has surprised me so far is how little transfer activity there has been with many of the top Premier League teams struggling to attract the top footballing names from across the world.

One reason for this could be down to the 50% tax rate for the high earners. When footballers attract headlines for being high earners their is normally a backlash.

But having high paid football stars do have some benefits. If they are top quality stars the knowledge they can pass down to the yonger players is a valuable and can change training attitudes as Manchestr United found when Eric Cantona was there.

They also bring in wealth to this countary. Christiano Ronaldo will only pay 10% tax in Spain and can only pay a maximum 27%. Could this be the real reason why top stars want to play in La Liga for Real Madrid and Barcelona?

Exposed: The Lib Dem's Local Income Tax

A letter appeared in this weeks Southend Standard, I presume by a Lib Dem sympathizer, saying that the Lib Dems have been campaigning to removing the unfair Council Tax for sime time.

I agree that in some parts of the country council tax bills are going through the roof for some families. In the London Borough of Haringey, for example, my mum pays over £1,000 for living in a band B property. In Southend though we are blessed with one of the lowest council tax in England.

Political commentators have been exploring what could replace Council Tax for some years now. The Lib Dems have been campaigning for a Local Income Tax for the past few years.

When you actually look at the policy it actually punishes hard working families as this tax is based on the ability to pay. In many cases there are more than one person who works. If there is a family where both parents work then this family pays twice as both parents earning an income will have to pay.

If the Local Income Tax were to replace the Council Tax there is a danger that it could force even more hardpressed families to loose their homes in times when most families are struggling to make end meet.

Since Nick Clegg has become Lib Dem party leader he has looked to replace the more bizzare and unpopular policies, like banning the sale of goldfish at Fairgrounds (Yes it's true, this was Lib Dem policy not so long ago) for example. Maybe this is one that he needs to have a rethink on.