Friday, 19 March 2010

Social Media & Elections

I attended an excellent training session yesterday evening on the topic of safegarding children. It was during my time of being a councillor one of the most enjoyable and thought provoking sessions that I have attended.

One particular issue that was heavily debated was the use of social media and how this may have consequences for child protection.

As it is currently topical the role of social networking sites like facebook was heavily discussed. The facilitator took the view that as soon as this site was banned the better.

As a user of sites like facebook and twitter I asked the question if there have been any studies which has produced evidence that sites like facebook and twitter have made children less safe. Intrestingly, the facilator said no there had not.

I do believe that banning such sites is a knee-jerk reaction. There can be some good from these sites e.g. it prevented the X-Factor winner from gaining number 1 spot last Christmas, helped save a young man's life when 14,000 people donated a rare type of blood to keep him alive and has got the nation communicating. All positive aspects which never get reported.

Children get bulllied by email, text messaging and sadly on occasions in schools, but in todays age would anybody suggest banning these? I thought not.

The use of social networking sites has actually seen an increase in young people becoming politically active that is why all parties embrace it and will change the way in which future elections will be conducted.

Every death of a child is one death to many and rightly everything that can be done to protect children needs to be explored.

I also made the point that it was impossible and wrong for the authorities to police the internet in such a way we can only access information which they deem fit.

It needs greater parential responsibility to ensure that controls are placed on websites which they do not want their children to access.

I guess some people may come to the view that social networking sites should be banned but it seems that Cllr Assenheim sensing a passing bandwagon though my views were of a nature that I should resign as Chairman of Children & Lifelong Learning.

In short my answer: Get a grip and dream on!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Independents....Don't Agree with Political Opponents? Just Threaten Them With Violence

Oh dear, a new low today it seems from the Independents. Cllr Ron Woodley has got a bit above his station this afternoon as he has taken offence for some reason to my earlier post this week on vote Independent get Lib Dem.

In a nasty telephone call earlier, Cllr Woodley threatens to do me serious damage if I come near him after reading my post. Whilst I can assure readers that I haven't yet pooed my pants over his threat, the amusing part is that all calls to my work telephone are all recorded! Stupid, stupid man.

Whilst I am treating this a case of sticks and stones and all that as I do not believe in the Standards Board or plod getting involved in politiking it is shame that Cllr Woodley had to committ such cowardly and threatening behaviour and not speak to me face to face on the matter in a professional way.

Why is he so annoyed at the post? I can only presume he is angry for some strange reason me mentioning that his daughter has joined the Lib Dems.

I personally can not see why as I think that this is a fantastic thing that young people are getting involved it just might persuade other youngsters to get involved...surely a good thing?

It maybe even just a case of the Independent Party's cosy relationship with the Lib Dems hit a raw nerve? Who know's with them!

Update 19/03/10: In an upleasant exchange of emails from the Independent Party, Cllr Woodley now accuses me of Child Abuse! Whatever low will they now stoop to.

Time to think before you vote

You might have read in the paper, heard on the radio or seen a leaflet coming through your door from someone who says you should vote for them on May 6 as they are an ‘Independent candidate.’

That might seem like a good idea – somebody who thinks and acts totally on their own and in your best interests - but just think about it for a moment.

Actually, the Independent councillors in Southend are just as much members of a political party as any Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem.

Let’s examine the evidence...

If the Independent councillors are all independent from each other, then why do they are all share the same website?

If the Independent councillors are all independent from each other, then why are they making identical election statements in their leaflets and on their websites?

If the Independent councillors are all independent from each other, then why do they vote as group at Council and release joint statements?

If the Independent councillors are all independent from each other, then why is there an Independent group leader? And why is he taking a leadership allowance of over £4,000 a year?

If the Independent councillors are all so independent, then why are at least five of them claiming travel expenses?

Why have the Independent councillors confirmed in the local press that they ARE a political party and will form a coalition with Labour and the Lib Dems if no party wins overall control of the council?

What’s so independent about that?

Nothing at all....

OK. Now, think about this.

You are going to buy a car, and it’s such an important decision as you will be 100% relying on this car to live your day to day life and run your business successfully.

Will you buy a vehicle that you know everything about – when it was serviced, how many miles are on the clock, how fast it can run, what its fuel efficiency is like? You can make an informed decision about buying this car as you know exactly what you are getting.

Or will you buy a car that you know absolutely nothing about; but that somebody tells you they think it will be really good for you? They cannot tell you how anything will work, they will need to wait and see what happens as time goes on – and you will just have to hope that the car goes the way you want it to.

Obviously you would pick the car that you know everything about – the one that you can rely on because you know up front exactly what it will do. There is no way you would want to buy the mysterious car that might end up not being what you want, or need.

Well that’s exactly the same as voting for an Independent councillor.

The so-called Independent candidates’ claim you should vote for them as they don’t have a party line to follow and so can make their own decisions as matters arise. But with no policies, how do you know what they decide is going to be what you want?

You might not like what the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems are promising you, but at least they are telling you what they are going to do. They have clear policies they are setting out for you to make your May 6 decision by. The Independents aren’t doing that.

With an Independent, all they are promising right now is to personally deliver extra pink and white bags to older or disabled residents who are not able to get them. For your schools, crime, healthcare and transport issues, well then you will just have to wait and see what decision they make on those issues when the time comes – and you will just have to keep your fingers crossed they do what you agree with.

Do you want to take that risk? Wouldn’t you rather buy the car that does exactly what it says it will do, than taking the mystery ride in something that claims to be a car (but as we’ve seen, actually isn’t) and hoping for the best?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Independent Party in East Beach Climb Down

An intresting piece in todays Echo has revealed further splits in the Independent Party camp in Shoebury as residents have confirmed,as suspected, that anti social behaviour has been reduced but more importantly the Boy Racers have disappeared - even Cllr Assenheim had to admit this in the article!

If Cllr Assenheim finally gets it, it begs the question as to why Comrade Chalk continues to put drivel like this on her website?

Still, maybe it makes her feel special.

Vote Independent Party, Get Lib Dem?

My colleague Cllr Anna Waite has made an interesting observation on her blog seasidenews regarding the cosy little 'relationship' developing between the Independent Party and the Lib Dems in the run up to the elections.

Following on from Anna's observations we also had Independent Party leader Cllr Terrry saying that he will work in a coalition and Cllr Assenheim proposing Lib Dem Cllr Ric Morgan for Vice Chairman at the last Children & Lifelong Learning scrutiny.

However, a little yellow bird tells me that the relationship has taken a new twist with Independent Party councillor Ron Woodley's daughter having now joined the Lib Dems.

Hmmmm More Soon.....

No Support For Camp Cuckoo

An interesting poll on councilbust has revealed that over 60% of responders said that they didn't support Camp Cuckoo.

From talking to residents on the doorstep I have found that the only issue people have with the Cuckoo Corner scheme is when will the police remove these trespassers. One resident even said that had this been the scouts they wouldn't have been allowed to occupy the land for so long.

I know my Independent Comrade Anne Chalk has some sympathy with Camp Cuckoo, so I will be checking to see how she even tries to manipulate these figures considering her track record.

Monday, 15 March 2010


With the local elections and expected General Election now less than two months away I have been hard on the campaign trail. My belief is that a politicians re-election campaign starts the day after you were elected with all the work undertaken in the four years in between counting double vefore the start of any formal election campaign.

Due to the task ahead blogging has been light recently but I am on track to have hit my aim of every road in West Shoebury being canvassed, all supporters receiving a personalised letter and 5 pieces of literature going to every home.

There has also been a lul in council activity with only the 'tree huggers' at camp cukoo providing the entertainment before plod respectfully tell them to move on.
In fact the news has been so slow that our dear friend Comrade Chalk has again plucked figures from the air to have a sad little rant about East Beach

On to some more positive news, as well as planning for the elections, me and Mrs C are also preparing for the little bambinos 1st birthday. As she is animal mad I think I'm sure the voters will excuse me a day off the campaign trail so we can take Miss C to Colchester Zoo.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Members Travel Expenses

Last Thursday at the lengthy Full Council meeting, a motion was presented to the council from Cllr's Woodley and Longley urging the council to remove in borough travel expenses and issue all councillors with a bus pass.

Whilst the issue wasn't discussed at this full council, it will, no doubt, be heavily discussed at the next Economic & Environmental Scrutiny.

Over the past year some £7,000 was claimed in both in and outer borough travel expenses. Over the past four years I have claimed for both in and outer borough travel expenses.

In my first year and a half as a councillor I didn't claim a penny in travel expenses and found myself at times out of pocket.

During the past year and a half I have been claiming for travel expenses but have found for me, that it is actually pointless. As all travel expenses are liable for tax, I am taxed at 40% on all travel expenses and for the £10/20 a month that I have received on occasions felt it wasn't worth the effort to complete a claims form!

I do believe that some members are wrong for claiming for travel reimbursement for attending mayor functions or for sitting in meetings which they are not members for like Cllr Assenheim for instance.

I believe that clearer guidance needs to be issued to all members as to what they can and can not claim for. The problem with the current motion is that issuing bus passes to all members solves nothing.

Sometimes confidential information is given to councillors and I believe that there is a stronger chance of this type of information going astray on public transport. Also, after a certain time at night buses don't run so how are you supposed to get home?

But the biggest question is how much this has cost the council by launching an investigation into this matter. My hunch is that it has cost more than the £7,000 members claimed in expenses!

An Independent With A Sore Head

Following Cllr Assenheim being exposed last week for putting party politics ahead of his residents, this weekend, Cllr Assenheim has gone for the jugular by accusing Shoebury councillors of not caring for local children through his favourite mouthpiece Comrade Chalk's

Last Friday, all Shoebury councillors were invited to the Creative Dance Association Festival, organised by the school sports partnership. Whilst not wishing to answer for my colleagues, my apologies were given as I had a long standing meeting in Chelmsford of the Essex Sports Delivery Group which I attend in my capacity as the borough Sports Champion.

In the afternoon sadly I had to put a shift in at work to provide for my family. Whilst I would like to be a man of leisure like Cllr Assenheim and attend every council meeting to claim the mileage or attend events for the free lunch sadly some councillors like myself also have to hold down a regular full time job.

I feel that holding a full time job as well as being councillor actually helps me in my council duties as it provides a sense of realism and a grasp of the issues that ordinary folk experience.