Sunday, 24 June 2012

Shoebury Flood Defences Update

There has been much debate recently about the urgent requirement for improvements to the flood defences at Shoebury Common. Some of the debate has been irresponsible and arguably none more so than this. I have always maintained on this issue that as an elected representative, I have a duty of care and an obligation to protect residents lives and homes.

Residents may be interested in two upcoming events on this issue, where they will have the opportunity to ask questions, view documentation and hear the reasons behind the proposals.

The first event is a drop in session at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club this Wednesday the 27th June from 13:00 - 20:00. The second is a public meeting of the Shoebury Residents Association, which I helped organise on the 11th July at St Andrews Church, Church Road, Shoeburyness starting at 20:00 where officers from Southend Council will be in attendance. These events will give residents the chance to form their own opinions based on the evidence provided.  

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Curse Of Election Promises

To much fanfare, this week Labour launched their Police & Crime Commissioner candidates. Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Val Morris-Cook was the recipient of the Labour nomination for Essex.

At the launch of the Labour campaign, one thing that wasn't lost on me was the pledge to protect neighbourhood policing. This may prove problematic for Cllr Morris-Cook as the elections draw nearer as in 2010 as part of the ruling Labour administration she oversaw the budget which planned to cut Police Community Support Officers until local Conservatives scuppered the plan. I'm sure this point will not be lost on the doorsteps.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

On The Move...

As political parties move their campaigning into the digital ans social media age, a few years ago, the West Shoebury and Shoeburyness Conservatives set up a website to keep residents of both wards informed of our local work and campaigns.

As the number of visitors increased, so did the demand for an improved site. The need for change also unfortunately means the need for a new website address. The new Shoebury Conservatives website can now be found at

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Recycling Sacks

Every so often, I get asked by West Shoebury residents where they can obtain additional pink recycling and white textile sacks due to vast amount of household waste that is recycled by residents.

Every six months 3 rolls of 15 sacks are delivered direct to residents homes. If residents require additional sacks these can be obtained from the Civic Centre, all libraries in the borough, the Cory Environmental Depot in Eastern Avenue, the Tourist Information Centre at the entrance of the pier and the Leigh Town Council offices. Opening times and additional information can be found here.

Alternatively, if residents are unable to get to any of the above locations then please contact me where I will be happy to to deliver additional supplies to your door.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Weekly West Shoebury Review - Delivering on my promises edition

Since the local elections early last month, this has been the busiest week so far. Not only in the ward but also in my portfolio as well. On Tuesday I had a meeting with the Southend Taxi Driver Association. On Wednesday I had a productive meeting along with Cllr Jarvis with the Southend Jet Ski Club discussing the watersports ramp at Shoebury Common Beach and on Thursday chaired the first meeting of the Traffic & Parking Working Party.

It was also a busy week for casework in the ward. I was able to assist a resident in St Andrews Road who had an issue which needed some assistance regarding Southend Cemetary. At the beginning of the week I dealt with a query from a resident in West Road regarding the alleyway which runs behind the length of West Road. I had a walk along the alleyway yesterday and was pleased that following my intervention the alleyway has been cleared of rubbish and dog fouling. The weeds have also been reported and will be removed shortly.

Whilst I am on the issue of dog fouling, you may recall in a previous weekly review that I was looking into having a letter sent to residents in West Road, Richmond Avenue, Ness Road and St Andrews Road to remind the irresponsible dog owners of their obligations regarding dog fouling. I am please to say that these leaflets had started to be delivered along with our latest newsletter.

I also had a meeting with a resident in Lodwick regarding a local issue and with a resident in West Road who had a passport query. Upon looking at diary for next week it appears that another busy week is on the cards but I am looking forward to spending Farthers Day with my family today.

The First Meeting of Real Significance So Far

Although we have had the annual council Meeting to elect he new Mayor, the leader of the council and the short meeting to determine the chairs of all committees, on Thursday, it was the first meeting of the Traffic & Parking Working Party which was the first meeting of the Civic Year at which any meaningful council business was discussed and debated.

Significant transport items relating to Shoeburyness were debated and I am happy to inform residents that the Working Party agreed to advertise for consultation the proposal to introduce parking bays to ease the parking situation for residents who wish to use local shops on Shoebury High Street.

Also the proposal to fill in the underpass at the Renown and create crossings overground to help residents, especially school children, bypass the roundabout. This was an interesting discussion as the underpass does the job in allowing people to cross the road at a busy roundabout, but the reality is very few people use it.

This is for a variety of reasons, but by and large it is because of the of the vandalism and anti-social behaviour. At the annual Debate Shoebury event this issue has been raised for the past three years by the students. Due to the anti-social behaviour and bullying that the students say they face they would rather cross a busy roundabout without any crossing points than use the underpass.

As this issue was accepted by the Working Party as an anti-social behaviour and vandalism issue, the Working Party authorised officers to see if the works could be funded away from the transport capital programme if not then the scheme should be considered for inclusion in the transport capital programme next year.

It was interesting to hear some of the feedback on the meeting by opposition members. I was pleased to hear that Cllr Gilbert described the meeting on his blog as being by and large non political and also the kind words from Shoeburyness Ward Independent Party councillor Mike Assenheim for allowing him to speak at length on this issue were appreciated.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Victory Over Censorship

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its third anniversary. When I first started blogging, I hoped that this site would help raise awareness of the work that me and my fellow councillors do in West Shoebury as well as engage a new audience in local politics.

My google analytics suggests that currently over the past year that this blog received around 100 hits per day on average which I though was pretty good going. When 9 year old Martha Payne started her blog NeverSeconds last month to highlight what she ate for her school dinners hoping to raise money for her Mary's Meals charity which raises funds for school feeding projects in communities around the world where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education never imagined she would become a worldwide internet sensation and highlight political issues of healthy eating and censorship in the process.

Martha's blog gives a score out of 10 to each meal, a 'health rating' and even the number of hairs found in each meal and got children across the world excited about healthy eating, she attracted images of other children's dinners from Germany, Japan, Finland, Illinois, Spain and America.

Following an article in the Scottish tabloid The Daily Record criticising the poor quality of the food served at her school, on Thursday Martha was told by her headteacher that the local council, Argyll and Bute, had told the school that she would have to stop posting pictures of her school dinners.

Presumably, Argyll and Bute council didn't have a clue as to how much of an internet furore that the censorship of this blog would cause and that a blog of a 9 year old had done more to raise the issue of healthy eating than their own well meaning locally tax payer funded scheme. In the meantime, the hit counter on her blog was rising faster than the national debt and thousands of pounds was being donated to the Mary's Meals charity.

Thanks to the intervention of the leader of Argyll and Bute council, Cllr Roddy McCuish, a statement was issued by the leader condemning the censorship. Thankfully common sense prevailed and a victory over censorship for internet blogging had been won. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Don't Lose Your Right to Vote

Earlier this morning I received an email with the latest media release from the media team at the council informing me that Southend Council is about to commence its annual canvass which means that now is the time to act to make sure you are registered to vote.

Canvass forms are sent out to every household in the borough by law to ensure that the Register of Electors contains the details of all residents who are eligible to vote. Residents will be receiving their forms from Monday 18th June.

If you are happy with all the details contained on the form then you can confirm them using the free and secure internet or telephone service. You will find your unique reference number on the top right hand side of the form and either method also allows you to request an application to vote by post if you wish.

If any details on the form require amending then the form with the amended details need to be sent back by post using the envelope provided.

Registering now will enable you to be able to vote in the Essex Police & Crime Commissioner elections on Thursday 15th November. Nicholas Alston has been selected as the Conservative candidate

Monday, 11 June 2012

Shopping Local

I know I have made numerous posts regarding the quality of local shops and services in West Road and back in November, I posted that I believed that businesses in West Road have passion in what they do and care about the local community. In what has been a difficult couple of weeks for my family, I wanted to highlight some truly outstanding service that me and my family received from local shops and services in West Road.

Firstly, I want to highlight the care and compassion that was shown to my family by Carr's Funeral Service. They are a relatively new business in West Road which opened in October 2011. They have provided an affordable and dignified funeral for my aunt and many have commented on the little personal touches like driving on the outside lane so nobody could overtake the procession and also walking the Hurst along Stock Road into Southend Crematorium her final resting place. This shouldn't surprise anybody as all along they said that they would only provide a service that would expect for their own family.

I also want to mention Wendy the florist in West Road who provided all the flowers at exceptional quality and value. People who attended are still commenting on the handbag and shoes! Finally I want to thank the Eagle Club in Seaview Road for their hospitality in holding the wake and Kirsty at the barbers for the haircut ensuring that I looked smart on the day.

I have always valued the fact that I have local shops on my doorstep and hope that many other local residents continue to support local shops as the owners are local people, who run these local businesses and services for local residents, providing exceptional quality that will not break the bank.  

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Weekly West Shoebury Review

Despite most of my time this week being preoccupied with the sudden death of a relative it was still business as usual with a very busy week in the ward.

I was delighted to launch the Safe Zone Scheme in West Road with Cllr Roger Hadley in neighbouring Shoeburyness Ward. The scheme is designed for shoppers who are in distress can seek assistance of any shop displaying the opposite symbol who will call the emergency services or relative for those in need. The scheme has been well received by local traders and is in the process of being rolled out across Shoeburyness. If any shop keeper or local shopping area wants details or literature for the scheme, then please contact me at

On Friday, I was delighted to kick off the Diamond Jubilee celebrations by presenting commemorative medals to the children at Richmond Primary School. The school were delighted that Southend Council footed the bill for the medals for this once in a lifetime event as they were planning something similar but budget constraints prevented this from happening.

It was seeing all the children dress in red, white and blue delighted to embrace the jubilee and the joy on their faces which made the expense by the council worth while.

I was also delighted to meet up last week with the new Gunners Park, park ranger who has been employed by the Essex Wildlife Trust to take over management of the site from Southend Council. I was delighted to hear of the volunteers who have agreed to help with litter picks of the area and protect the rare flora and fauna.  

Live Streaming of Council Meetings Moves a Step Closer

I would have liked to have posted on this subject last week but due to the sudden death of a relative and assisting in the organisation of the funeral, much of my time and mind has been somewhat preoccupied just of late.

I was delighted to read in the Southend Echo last Wednesday that the leader of the Council has asked the Chief Executive to cost up a workable scheme. Whilst the idea is still in its infancy, I remain hopeful that this idea will become a reality.

I have publicly called for this measure since March as I thought the budget debate and subsequent rowing back from those who supported it deserved a wider audience and would stop councillors making promises that they can not keep It will also make politics more accessible to people who cannot go to the council meetings due to having children or being disabled or elderly. With the technology available at relatively low start up costs this seems a natural extension to local democracy.   

Conservative Essex Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate Announced

Whilst I have never made any secret of the fact that I was opposed to the legislation for elected Police and Crime Commissioners, the Bill has received Royal Assent and elections are due to be held in November. Elections for Police & Crime Commissioners were originally to be held on the 3rd May but were moved as the Lib Dems High Command were concerned that if these elections were held in tandem with the local elections they would have received an even bigger pasting nationally as they are perceived to be by many as 'soft on crime'.

Despite my reservations, I can confirm that Nicholas Alston has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Essex. Nicholas is a former Royal Naval Officer and senior official who has served in various defence and security roles during a career which saw him awarded a CBE in the 1997 New Year's Honours list for his services to defence. Nicholas has also worked closely with Police forces in the UK and overseas and is also on the advisory board of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at University College London.

He also has a long association with Essex Police, having been born in Harwich Police Station in 1952 nad his father Kenneth Alston QPM, was Deputy Chief Constable of the Essex and Southend Joint Constabulary until 1971.