Sunday, 29 April 2012

Are Southend Labour insulting residents intelligence?

I am grateful to Julian Ware-Lane for making me aware of the Labour election advert in the Leigh Times.

I was intrigued to see that the headline of the advert was to use the local elections in Southend on Thursday as the opportunity to send a message to Cameron and Clegg.

Flicking through the archives of the election literature that I have amassed over the years was a section from a piece of election literature sent to residents in West Shoebury during the 2006 by-election campaign.

I had to have a chuckle as the Labour candidate claimed that this election was about local issues and accused Conservatives of 'insulting peoples intelligence' if this election was about sending a message to Tony Blair the Prime Minister of the day.

Before I get numerous comments that local Labour Party personnel have changed since 2006, the Labour candidate Lars Davidsson is the Labour candidate in Chalkwell on Thursday and his agent was Cllr Ian Gilbert the Labour Group Leader and Labour candidate in Victoria pictured in the group photo.

Whilst I openly admit that I do not agree with Labour politics and on many occasions vehemently disagree with my Labour opponents but I didn't expect them to resort to using sheer hypocrisy. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

CCTV Vehicle

Following a post by Cllr Chalk on the CCTV Vehicle, it was interesting to find in my in box yesterday that Cllr Assenheim wanted the CCTV Vehicle to catch an offender in Rampart Terrace  but was was quickly overruled by Cllr Chalk who didn't want the vehicle anywhere near and claimed that the vehicle didn't conform to Government guidance. I thought I would share with you my reply:


 Many thanks for your email, it was certainly interesting to read your comments and thought it was this type of allegation that necessitated a reply. Apart from the absurdity of seeing both you and Cllr Assenheim being at complete opposite ends yet again it makes me wonder if you could agree on what day of the week it is! 

On this occasion Mike does make a valid observation and I'm sure officers will respond as soon as he has looked into all the details. Unlike yourself, I will base the argument and merit of the CCTV Vehicle based on fact and not what is reported in the Echo. 

For the record, the CCTV Vehicle is DfT compliant and meets all the statutory requirements as instructed by the Act of Parliament. 

The Government guidance which recommend that enforcement by the CCTV Vehicles are only used where enforcement is difficult, sensitive or enforcement by a traffic wardens are not practical are exactly what they are - guidance. 

However, looking at the areas which the CCTV Vehicles cover in the town, they do follow the guidance: 

1. Zig Zags outside schools - Sensitive? Yes, as a car obstructing the front entrance of a school could be a contributory factor leading to an accident. Difficult? You try and get all the problematic schools covered by wardens. It is also impractical. 

2. Junction Protection - Sensitive? Yes as they are there for a very good reason as cars parked on them can obscure a drivers view. Difficult? Again, try and get a warden to stand on every corner where there is a double yellow which is also not very practacle. 

3. One hour parking restrictions in residential areas - Sensitive? Yes, as why is it that Traffic & Parking get inundated with requests for parking management schemes to prevent commuter parking and also is an area which you have complained bitterly about in the Shoebury High Street area so these areas deserve to have these areas patrolled. Difficult? Try and get all the traffic wardens to monitor all these roads within the one hour restriction across the town. 

I could go on and on. I trust, more in hope I must say, that will alley the need for such rash and ill thought out statements on this issue. 

Kind Regards 


SATC Hustings

Unlike Julian Ware-Lane who mentions on his blog that he was unable to to make the hustings yesterday evening, I did manage to attend and see the whole of the debate. Credit where credit is due, the debate was well chaired and all the leaders were given equal time and opportunity to debate the issues. On the whole though I was very disappointed with the overall lack of debate on local issues within Southend and the lack of residents who were not affiliated with any of the parties.

It was a shame that Graham Longley the Lib Dem leader wasn't there, but as he is probably fighting like a ferret in sack to hang onto his 19 vote majority in Blenheim I can understand why he wasn't.

I am going to avoid the temptation to rank the leaders in order of performance but give my honest assessment as to how each performed.

Julian Esposito - Green Party: Whilst I do care about the environment, I have to confess that I do not believe in Green Party politics as it like listening to a 1970's Labour Party manifesto. Julian did come across as a pleasant chap but it was clear he didn't have much knowledge on local issues as was misinformed on national issues.

Nigel Holdcroft - Conservative: Whether you agree with Conservative politics or not, even his detractors will all agree that he is an accomplished speaker and performed and debated well. Along with the Mayor David Norman these are two best orators in the council chamber by far.  Nigel's knowledge on local issues was the best of all the leaders and was true to his beliefs.

Ian Gilbert - Labour: Ian spoke on predominantly national politics but did talk a little on local issues as well. What I would say, whilst I vehemently disagree with Ian on the majority of issues he was consistent and did stick to his beliefs. Where he agrees with Nigel he agreed, where he disagrees with Nigel he disagreed.

Martin Terry - Independent Party 'spokesman' come leader who receives a leaders salary of over £7,000 but claims he is an Independent: Over the past few months, Martin's comments and rants have almost become farcical as the Independent Party campaign unravels. On the night some of his comments were to the extreme right of UKIP and to the left of  Genghis Khan. The same usual lines were trotted out.

What I was really looking for were the big revelations, the talking points and Cllr Terry didn't disappoint. Cllr Terry did reveal that he and the rest of the Independent Party supported a rise in Council Tax this year and would advocate rises in Council tax in future years. To his credit, Ian Gilbert did say that whilst he didn't like the council tax freeze, he couldn't justify a rise in Council Tax to his residents when families are hard pressed during the tough economic times.

Also one other area of note was the Independent 'Party Line' had changed from Wednesday as they now wanted to work with all the political parties. This is hardly surprising as in the not to distant past he belonged to the Labour Party, led his own political party until 2007 and supports the UKIP candidate in West Shoebury!

With five more days of campaigning it is anybodies guess when the next incoherent message will be.     

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Southend wins Purple Flag Award

Before we start, don't panic, I haven't gone all Independent/UKIP with you, but I was delighted to hear that Southend had been awarded the Purple Flag for it management of the town centre and seafront at night.

In awarding the Purple Flag the assessors rated Southend as ‘above standard’ in two of the five judging criteria - ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘A Broad Appeal’.

The judges found the town’s High Street and Sea Front to be “welcoming, safe and clean” and said they offered “a vibrant choice and a rich mix of entertainment and activity”. They also met the required standard in the ‘Movement’, ‘Place’ and ‘Policy Envelope’ judging criteria. 

Among the features of the town’s night-time economy which were recognised by the judges were: 

  • an innovative town centre policing strategy 
  • the ‘BOBB’ (Behave or Be Banned) scheme, which they said was “well enforced and respected” by the police and local businesses 
  • the availability of fixed and portable toilets 
  • the SoS Bus – “an excellent example of what can be achieved through multi-agency co-operation” and 
  • the town’s ‘Clubwatch’ scheme, where representatives of 35 town centre clubs, pubs and bars meet regularly with police to share intelligence and good practice.

Since being awarded Council of the Year this is the send major award within my portfolio following on from the success of the 'Better Bus Bid'. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Do the Independent Party Really Care about Shoebury High Street? Part 2

Over the past few months both myself and my fellow West Shoebury councillors have received a lot positive feedback on our shop local campaign after a newsletter was sent to over 4,000 homes detailing how many items can be brought in local shopping areas cheaper than in supermarkets and receive a more personal service.

I was delighted to read that the traders in West Road have decided to set up the West Road Traders & Community Association and is something that I encouraged on this blog following the success of the neighbouring Ness Road traders coming together to encourage local shopping.

It seems that this action has spurred Cllr Chalk to once again criticise the CCTV vehicle in preventing vehicles parking on bends and double yellow line.

I have always found it quite amusing when the like of Cllr Chalk dub it the 'spy car' as you can hardly miss the thing! In actual fact it is more more visible than a traffic warden. I also have to laugh when Cllr Chalk takes a dislike to the 'spy car' yet is quite happy for all and sundry to read her emails and listen to her telephone conversations. Although what emanates from Cllr Chalk at times I'm sure that even a spook would get bored very quickly.

Whilst trying to show residents that she cares about local businesses in Shoebury High Street the truth couldn't be more different. Back in 2010, a measure that would create free parking bays along Shoebury High Street to prevent commuters from taking up space which would have allowed shoppers to pop into their local shop for a newspaper and a packet of cigarettes was proposed.

Unfortunately, this measure met resistance from, yes you guessed it from Anne Chalk, who was actively encouraging people to object to the proposals.

Despite this, further efforts were made by local Conservatives to assist businesses in the High Street following complains that the situation was getting worse. But again, who was putting obstacles in the way...Anne Chalk. It really does beggar belief that Cllr Chalk believes that she can say one thing and do another and get away with it. Still, as we have seen in recent weeks the Independent Party in Southend are showing their true colours and residents are beginning to see them for what they are.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Plot Thickens

Following my expose on Wednesday, it was reported in yesterday's Echo of a possible electoral pact with the Independent Party and the Lib Dem's after Thorpe Independent Party councillor Ron Woodley's support for Lib Dem leader Cllr Graham Longley in this years local elections.

After returning home from a long day out on the campaign trail, in my in box was a leaflet sent to me anonymously by a West Shoebury resident which claims that the UKIP candidate in West Shoebury has the personal backing of Independent Party leader Cllr Martin Terry and 'Independent leadership member' Cllr Ron Woodley.

As this is the third candidate/party that Cllr Woodley has endorsed in these elections I wonder who he will endorse tomorrow? So much for taking party politics out of local government!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Do the Independent Party really want to keep party politics out of Local Government?

Whilst most of the Independent Party cheerleaders are towing the 'party line' by trotting out their mantra of 'keep party politics out of local government', it appears this message still hasn't reached Thorpe Independent Party councillor Ron Woodley who now wants residents to vote Liberal Democrat. A little yellow bird kindly forwarded onto me this leaflet which has been circulated to all post voters in Blenheim ward.

Now despite trumpeting his so called 'Independence' Ron has got form when it comes to supporting political parties especially the Lib Dems and its local leader Graham Longley. A couple of weeks ago, I dispelled the myth peddled by Cllr Woodley that he has never stood for election for a political party by revealing that in 2006 he stood for Alliance Southend a party who was led by Cllr Martin Terry.

In February, Cllr Woodley told a meeting of the Economic & Environmental Scrutiny that he was really a Conservative but in 2010 signed the nomination papers of Cllr Longley to become the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East.

One thing that is certain is that Cllr Woodley's antics will not go down well in Thorpe Bay as the residents are already quaking with fear that the Lib Dems could be let anywhere near power in Southend.

If I was a betting man, I would suspect that support for Cllr Longley is eroding in Blenheim if it takes Cllr Woodley to send a begging letter to its residents. 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Does Cllr Terry Support Squatting in Graveyards?

It was one of those unkept secrets that ITV's Homes from Hell star And Independent Party candidate for St Lukes, Brian Ayling, was a supporter of SKIPP but has taken this to new lows by now openly supporting Occupy Southend and has recently written a lengthly article on their website. 

Recently Occupy Southend came in for some heavy criticism by trying to claim squatters rights in a graveyard are still camping at the old Toomey's site. 

As the rudderless leader with no authority over his party, I am pretty sure Cllr Terry will not denounce Brian's latest stunt. One can only assume that failure to denounce means that Cllr Terry supports Occupy Southend and squatting in graveyards.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Unhealthy Obsession Spreads

With the unhealthy obsession of Anna Waite by Cllr Terry showing no signs of slowing, it would appear this has now spread to the Labour Party in St Luke's as the Labour candidate now see's the need to mention Anna on his literature to try and gain some electoral advantage. 

With the local Labour Party seeming to have a dislike of their politics it does seem strange for them to see the need to ape their campaign tactics.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

Apart from Christmas Day, Easter Sunday is one of the most important days in the calendar. I made a promise to myself to keep this blog free of politics today and would like to wish all the residents a very happy Easter and hope you enjoy the remainder of the Bank Holiday weekend.   

Saturday, 7 April 2012

An Unhealthy Obsession?

Whilst out on the campaign trail yesterday, it was pointed out to me by an eagle eyed resident that of the four posts on Cllr Terry's blog since the beginning of the month, three of them contained the name of Anna Waite in the title. One of the posts yesterday bizarrely managed to link Anna's name and a recount of Thursday night's Economic & Environmental Scrutiny Committee.

I was asked if this focus on Anna Waite was healthy and the resident quipped that along with Cllr Terry's Conservative 'Party Whip' fetish people have received restraining orders for less. With the intensity that an election campaign can create, it never ceases to amaze me how the public can lighten the mood with exceptional moments of humour.

Taking the humour aside, it does seem odd that Cllr Terry continues to berate Anna for her comments yet it is fine for Cllr Terry to criticise people who attended public school and Eton. I have always found it odd when fellow politicos criticise the Government for the millionaires in its cabinet especially when Labour's front bench has at least seven millionaires as brilliantly exposed by Guido Fawkes on his blog.

History should teach Cllr Terry that those who play the politics of envy have little electoral success. I am of the belief that the public couldn't give a damn how much wealth politicians have but just want them to be competent.

I mentioned in a post on Wednesday that in life one of biggest pet hates is hypocrisy. It is such a stain on local politics that the Independent Party should practise so much of it. For example:

- Why does Cllr Terry claim to be a 'spokesman' for his group when he claims over £7,000 for being a group leader when being a spokesman costs the taxpayer nothing.
- Why does Cllr Terry still try to claim that Southend council's finances are out of control when even by his own admittance he doesn't understand the accounts.
- Why is it that Cllr Terry want to the Conservatives to pursuit Business Rates collection on small businesses in the town who are struggling when we have a 98.5% collection rate overall.
- Why is it that Cllr Terry says that local residents have the chance to keep party politics out of local government at this election when the Independents could never control the council and has a history of setting up political parties.
- Why is it Cllr Terry condemns Anna Waite but welcomes into the fold Cllr Aylen who couldn't care if smokers get cancer and die. Cllr Aylen was de-selected by the Conservatives.
- Why is it that Cllr Terry and the Independent Party supported the budget on their own free will yet he allows his councillors and candidates to blame the mayor and the Conservatives for not letting them have a vote.
- Why is it that Cllr Terry criticises other councillors for belonging to residents associations yet fails to call for the resignation of his own councillors and candidates who run residents associations.

As one contributor to this blog pointed out, the Independent Party in Southend are about as independent as Tibet!

Driving Tests Back in Southend

I was delighted to read in the Southend Echo yesterday that Driving Tests will return to the town from the 17th May for the the first time in four years after the Government announced that Southend (Tickfield Centre) will be one of the mobile test centres.

The success is the result of the successful campaign by the Southend & District Driving Instructors Association and James Duddridge MP. I was delighted to play my part in getting the council to offer the Tickfield Centre as a mobile Test Centre which made yesterday's announcement possible. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Political Parties

When you mention to the Independents that they are a party in all but name they start to get a little hot under the collar and last night was no exception. Cllr Woodley set the record straight by proclaiming that he has never belonged to a political party or stood for a political party. But did he.

In 2006, Cllr Woodley stood as the Aliance Southend candidate. So what you may say, except looking at Electoral Commission's website reveals that Alliance Southend were a registered political party from 2005 - 2008 with, you've guessed it, Cllr Martin Terry as it's leader. Well at least that's cleared things up then!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Election candidates 2012

Nominations for this years local elections closed at noon yesterday and all the runners and riders in the 17 wards have been announced.

The candidates for this years election in West Shoebury are as follows:

Liz Day - Conservative
Stuart Freeman - English Democrats
James Moyies - UKIP
Charles Row - Lib Dem
Gray Sergeant - Labour

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Civil Liberties

One of my big pet hates in life are hypocrites and would rather someone be consistently wrong in my eyes but at least they remain consistent.

In politics, my big pet hate is what appears the consistent attack and threat to Civil Liberties by successive Government's. Under the last Government I was vehemently opposed to ID Cards, ContactPoint, the retention of DNA by police on those that have never been convicted of a crime and the indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial. I have even spoken out in the council chamber against schools in this town which use fingerprint technology for pupils wishing to access school meals or library books.  

The latest Government proposal to store data of our phone calls, emails, social media use and Internet browsing is just plain wrong. This assault in my eyes makes us no better than the likes of China and Iran. I have always believed in the assumption of innocence until proven guilty and do not subscribe to the view that every citizen should be placed under suspicion. I haven't even got going yet on the idea of holding trials in secret.

I suppose we should be thankful that the latest proposed snoopers charter will not form part of the Queen's speech but can only hope that the Government and MP's see 1984 as a novel and not a handbook and that common sense prevails.      

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A week is a long time in politics...

Last Tuesday I broke the news that Independent Party leader Cllr Martin Terry had joined the blogging world and with a week a long time in politics his ramblings warrant closer and further inspection.

First up Cllr Terry revealed the names and wards of his candidates. This post made interesting reading as it confirmed that the Independent Party are only contesting 9 seats meaning that in the unlikely event they won all the seats that they are contesting would only give them 14 councillors resulting in them forming a coalition with the Lib Dems and Labour to gain control of the council. So much for them wanting to keep party politics out of local government!

The surprising name on the list was that of Cllr Stephen Aylen, who has recently been de-selected by the Conservatives following his claim at a Full Council meeting in December that he did not care "if smokers got cancer and died".

Next up was the personal attack on me, sticks and stone and all that, but some of claims are wide off the mark. The post claims that the Independent Party have grown since 2003, odd, considering in 2010 no progress was made and they actually lost a seat in the local elections that year. It was also claimed that last year the Independents received more votes in the East of the town than any other party. By the East of the town that is meaning the wards in Southend which make up the current Rochford & Southend East constituency (Milton, Victoria, Kursaal, St Lukes, Southchurch, Thorpe, West Shoebury and Shoeburyness). In another attempt to mislead, the totals for the parties, which have representation on the council, are as follows:

Conservative - 7,110
Independent Party - 6,828 (7,000 if you include the Independent in Kursaal who was not part of the Independent Party)
Labour - 4,850
Lib Dem - 1,126

The full results for the 2011 local elections can be found here for those who want to question my maths.

The most bizarre part of that post is the insinuation of the links to the Regis Group, myself and the local Conservative Party. Followers of this blog may not be aware that all donations over £500 made to a political party have to be registered with the Electoral Commission. A quick search from when donations were required to be registered in 2001 up until today show a single donation was made by the Regis Group to the Central Party for £7, 2008.

Another search showed that no donation has been received by the local Conservative Association since 2009 and none have been made by the Regis Group.

I am happy to place on record that no donation made to the Central Party makes its way down to local Conservative Associations. Still, as Cllr Terry has previously claimed, figures are not his strong point but never let it get in the way of a good story or conspiracy! But whilst we are on the subject of donations to political parties maybe as their leader Cllr Terry could look into the boastful claim by one of their candidates in this years elections that they donated £10,000 to the BNP when Nick Griffin visited Southend in 2004.

Now trying to play the April fool, it was now the moment for Cllr Terry to champion Respect's victory in the Blackburn Bradford West by-election as evidence that it bodes well for the Independent Party's electoral fortunes in May. God only knows why Cllr Terry wants to use the electoral success of a political party who has a leotard wearing, dictator appeaser as a leader to further their cause.