It's not often that I get the chance to blog about the local Labour Party in West Shoebury as for a number of years Labour had appeared to abandon West Shoebury. The lack of a mainstream alternative opposition here in West Shoebury has allowed, in my opinion, the BNP and the policy lite and principle free Independent Party to achieve second place in the majority of local elections in West Shoebury since I was first elected in 2006.
Creditable opposition is healthy and I welcome the selection of Gray Sergeant as the Labour candidate in West Shoebury as he appears to be more than the token 'paper candidate' put up by Labour in recent years, although even by Gray's own admission in his blog there were no other willing takers and a former Labour parliamentary candidate admitted on his blog that Labour can not win in West Shoebury.
As I have mentioned previously in this blog I am also encouraged that another young person is actively engaging in local politics. I also appreciate when I was a whippersnapper starting in politics that combining active politics whilst studying at university restricted campaigning to when term ends or in the summer recess. This can not be easy for Gray so credit where credit is due and I also have a gut feeling that for Gray the 'political bug' is here to stay.
When I was a full time student at university I quickly realised that standing in elections was not an option as the demands of being a committed, hard working councillor wouldn't be conducive to my studies. I didn't feel that if I were to be elected at that time of my life that the residents I was seeking to represent deserved a part time councillor. Local government has partially addressed this but needs to go further if we want representation on councils in the UK of all ages and walks of life.
It has been said that challenging young people involved in politics was a political no, no but I subscribe to the view that age is no barrier and if you are willing to put your head above the parapet and stand for elected office then you open to challenge and scrutiny. I found it personally patronising and insulting when others wouldn't challenge me on my politics or beliefs because of my age.
Yesterday I was give a copy of the latest Labour Rose newsletter in West Shoebury and it would appear that it is coming the way of West Shoebury residents door mats shortly. It seems that the main focus of Gray's campaign will be on the West Road shopping area. Recently, I blogged at some length on West Road on the things that have been done and on it's future and it could be that the Labour candidate is leading on this after disclosing that he finds out what is happening in West Shoebury by reading this blog.
Gray claims in his leaflet that he has taken small steps to make West Road a better place by reporting piles of rubbish and rusty bollards and street lights. As the portfolio holder for these areas/issues I have checked with the council department yet they have no records of any councillor or resident reporting any of these issues in West Road.
Gray also claims that he will shame local councillors into taking action on three immediate steps which could be taken to improve West Road.
Firstly, Gray claims that instead of boarding up empty shops with wooden boards, artwork should be used from either local artists or schools to 'brighten up' the area. There is one slight problem with this. Currently, no empty shop in West Road is boarded up!
Secondly, a notice board should be installed for commercial and community groups to advertise local events. I do not know if Gray's picture has been super imposed onto a photo of West Road but on closer inspection, he would have noticed the notice board on the side of the building on the junction with Sea View Road. As with most of these notice boards they are used by nightclubs in the town to fly post although this one in West Road is currently free of such activity.
Finally, Gray suggests that the local environment in West Road would be improved by hanging flower baskets from the street lights or planting a tree or adding a flower bed. I will let the residents of West Shoebury decide if this will measure will send shoppers or potential traders flocking to West Road.