As a councillor, two of my favourite meetings of the year are the open meetings of the Shoebury Residents Association where all members and non members of the Residents Association across the two wards of Shoeburyness (West Shoebury & Shoeburyness) are invited to attend.
As a councillor I like these meetings as they give me another opportunity to listen to what residents concerns are. These meeting are not scripted and I am not briefed beforehand on what issues will be raised.
Over the years, the Shoebury Residents Association have been very active and vociferous in major planning applications affecting Shoebury, re-launching the Shoebury Fair and campaigning on issues which are of concern to Shoebury residents.
The open meeting last night was no exception with a committment from the Residents Association to be very active in helping promote and support small businesses especially in West Road and the elderly population in Shoebury.
One thing from the meeting which particularly struck a chord with me was the Chairman's opening remarks especially in regards to the Burgess Estate Residents Association (BERA) recruiting leaflet which some residents when the misfortune to find on their door mats.
I have blogged at length the issues with BERA which for time and space considerations I will not repeat, but the Shoebury Residents Association Chairman gave me gentle reminder and others present how independent the Residents Association are from their elected politicians.
Back in 2006, when I was first elected as a councillor, I was forced to resign my membership of the Residents Association and in fairness to him even Shoeburyness ward Independent Party councillor Mike Assenheim resigned as Chairman and from the Association when he a candidate in the Shoeburyness by-election in 2007, albiet he did set up the Coalition of Borough Residents Association (COBRA) and remained in control until his election.
To see a Residents Association not run for political ambition and have the honest intentions of the residents it represents makes a refreshing change.