Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Once in a Lifetime Experience not to be missed

Now the blisters have subsided and my feet have just about recovered from all the walking I thought I would post about my exploits at day's one and two at the Olympics. Whilst I wasn't successful in obtaining tickets for the big three events of Swimming, Athletics and Cycling I was fortunate to get tickets to see some of my favourite Olympic sports of Hockey, Weightlifting and Boxing

Although it was on a much smaller scale, I got a taster of these fantastic spectator sports at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Weightlifting was by far my favourite sport and again didn't disappoint with a new world record set in the Clean & Jerk and a new overall Olympic Record set by the lifter from Kazakhstan in the Women's 53kg event. Weightlifting is very underrated and televised coverage of this sport does not do it justice.

First up on day one was the Tennis as the Olympics arrived at Wimbledon. Quite what the traditionalists made of the coloured  clothing, the purple backdrops and the music bellowing from Centre Court between matches I do not know, but it did have a distinctive feel from the annual grand slam event.

Despite the heavy downpour and the absolute soaking, the Riverside Arena, albeit a temporary venue,  offers fantastic views of the Olympic Park and across London. Of the two matches I was lucky to witness New Zealand beat Australia for the first time in Women's Olympic Hockey. I was also treated to a master class by reigning Olympic champions the Netherlands as they defeated Belgium.

I have always been a fan of Boxing and have attended many bouts but with amateur Boxing there is a distinct difference as boxers are penalised if they do not punch. There was a great win for Josh Taylor  in the men's Lightweight category. It will be interesting to see if Josh progresses further in the competition.

I am lucky to be at the Handball tomorrow afternoon and at the Basketball on Thursday. I will keep you posted on my Olympic exploits later in the week.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Olympic Opening Ceremony

On Monday evening I and 59,000 others were given the opportunity to see a full dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium. Ceremony director Danny Boyle had respectfully asked the crowd not to post pictures or details of the Opening Ceremony. I will honour the request but what I will say is if you are lucky to have tickets you are in for a treat and is a must see for your Friday night viewing.

Despite much being said about the G4S fiasco and the role of the military, I have to say, on arrival at the security checks it made a change to go to sporting event and be greeted by the charm and professionalism of our armed services rather than the poor interpersonal skills by a private security company.

They are clearly over skilled for their role at London 2012 but are ideal for the job in hand. Whatever your views on the Afghanistan and Iraq conflict, one thing that these missions have done is equip the armed forces with the skills of providing a sense of security whilst being able to be provide charm and tact at the same time.

I was concerned that the presence of the Army would militarise the games but I was greeted with a smile and not an AK-47 rifle. For many who visit the games over he next few weeks, it will be the first time that they will have come into contact with our forces. I can probably guarantee that when they get their customary body pat, like me, they will be filled with pride.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The sun is shining, hopefully the grass will not grow as quick

As I am writing this post, I am looking out of my window at the clear blue sky which has greeted me this morning. It was ironic that when a hosepipe ban was announced for most of the country it was preceded by some of the wettest weather that has ever been recorded in this country. I suppose that this shouldn't come as a gret surprise.

The period of warm weather is welcome especially for the traders as visitors flocked to the town this weekend. Out of all the many services that Southend Council deliver, I am sure the predicted warm spell will be music to the ears of the Council's grounds maintenance department.

As those who have a garden can relate to, keeping the grass and weeds under control during the past couple of months has proved challenging. During the past two months, I have probably received more complaints about overgrown verges, parks, open spaces, cemeteries and weeds growing on pavements that I have in the six years that I have been a councillor.

Despite the inclement weather, the grounds maintenance team have done a sterling job trying to keep the town looking its pristine best and responding to the queries that I and many other councillors have had during this period. Hopefully, this weekend has marked the start of a fantastic summer.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The unreported Olympic Gaffe

The Torch Relay which passed through Southend recently has definitely wetted my appetite for the London 2012 Olympics, despite the travel disruption, having to work additional hours for no extra pay and being on an unsocial shift pattern from now until the end of the Paralympics. I was one of the lucky few who managed to get Olympics tickets and can not wait to see Tennis, Hockey, Weightlifting and boxing next weekend.

Almost all Olympic Games in my lifetime have seen much negativity in the respective host city in the lead up to the games and the usual inevitable last minute glitches. Unlike previous games there hasn't been the minute mad dash to get stadiums completed the day before the Opening Ceremony but London hasn't been immune from the last minute glitches with the G4S fiasco and the militant unions threatening to cause unnecessary carnage on London's buses and at Border control on Thursday.

Despite these highlighted issues which I am sure will be occupying games organisers time this week, there was however a somewhat more self inflicting gaffe which didn't get the press coverage that it deserved.

Once of the responsibilities of the British Olympic Association (BOA) is to issue media accreditation for all the different events. One of the main reasons that London was awarded the 2012 Olympics was because it is a cosmopolitan city which was successfully exploited by the London bid team back in 2005.

I was surprise to hear this week that that the BOA thought it was justified to refuse the The Voice, Britain's leading Black newspaper accreditation for the Olympic Stadium to cover the Athletics events despite Black athletes making up a large proportion of the Team GB squad in London, the contribution Black athletes have made to Team GB over the years and the fact that The Voice's headquarters are based just a stones throw away from the Olympic Stadium.

The campaign to reverse this decision was spearheaded by sports radio station Talksport after they exposed that othe niche newspapers like the Jewish Chronicle for example were given accreditation. I'm not saying that the Jewish Chronicle shouldn't have received accreditation but that it was short sighted to refuse The Voice newspaper. Fortunately the BOA finally saw reason and media accreditation was awarded to The Voice.

Despite these hitch's and some loss of public confidence in security arrangements you can feel the buzz that this once in a lifetime event is upon us and I for one can not wait.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

2011 Census Information

This week the first tranche of data from the 2011 Census was released. For Southend, the headline figures were as follows:

1. The 2011 Census estimates that there are 173,600 people living in Southend, an increase of 11,343 since 2001.

2. There are 74,700 households in Southend.

3. Southend had a census response rate 91%. The national average was 93%.

4. The resident composition for Southend is estimated to be 51% female and 49% male.

5. It is estimated that 17.8% of Southend's population is over 65 years of age with the national average 16.4%.

Further information on he 2011 Census is due to be released between November 2012 - February 2013.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Meals Before Full Council

Three years ago I supported the abolition of free meals for councillors before full council and other evening meetings as part of cost saving measures.

On Friday, front page news on the Southend Echo was the story was that a free two course meal for councillors and officers would be trailed before Full Council this Thursday, following a meeting of the leaders of all four political parties to try and get us 'to mingle more easily'.

I take the view that a meal provision should be made available but if councillors want a meal then they should pay for it but am happy for a meal to be provided to officers who have already done a full days work, although many that I have spoken to feel that officers should also pay as well. I am happy to place on reord that I will not be sitting down to eat the meal on offer.

Information from Royal Mail in West Shoebury

Shoebury Common Flood Defences - First Pictures

On Wednesday there was a packed public meeting of the Shoebury Residents Association which focused on the issue of the proposed Shoebury Common sea defences.

Many residents that I have spoken to on this issue couldn't visualise what the works would look like once completed.

At the meeting an artist impression was released. It was stressed that nothing has been finalised and the works are still subject to planning permission.

As part of the planning process, the proposed sea defences are subject to consultation. At the meeting, as part of the consultation with Shoebury residents, I managed to secure a further public meeting where officers will be in attendance.

There is a school of thought that Shoebury Common will become a dumping ground for spoil from the Cliff Slip works. To aliveate these fears, I will be pushing for the spoil to be stored away from Shoebury Common before the works start.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Busy, busy, busy. Weekly West Shoebury Round-Up

Looking at the latest stats for traffic on this site, it was interesting to see that my weekly West Shoebury reviews have been the most read posts on this blog since May. This probably shouldn't be no surprise especially as a disgruntled UKIPer this week informed me that the UKIP Eastern Counties Chairman and past West Shoebury candidate James Moyies has instructed his members to follow local councillors who blog and websites of local political parties as it, in his words, "is amasing how much time and work they can save you" if you are a UKIP election candidate. Honest, straight up, as ever, I am happy to share the disclosure upon request. Those who wish to see the evidence, just email me at

So to all the readers of this blog and for James Moyies benefit, my apologies for not writing a review last week but things have been really busy with a variety of work in the ward and across my portfolio. A couple of weeks ago, I attended the latest West Road Community & Traders Association meeting and continue to be impressed with their work in West Road and the West Road Shopping Area. I also want to give a plug for the latest community event organised by the West Road Community & Traders Association in West Road on the August Bank Holiday Monday, where a street party is planned from 10:00 - 17:00. Further information can be obtained from Rubel at The Polash Restaurant by emailing him at

On the 27th June I attended the flood defences drop in session at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club and was delighted to share my thoughts with many that attended. Just a quick reminder to residents that the Shoeburyness Residents Association have a public meeting on this issue this Wednesday at 20:00 at St Andrews Church Hall in Church Road.

Over the past couple of weeks there has been some positive action on issues that have been raised by residents. Action has been taken on overgrown grass in Weare Gifford and the weeds in the Alleyway behind West Road have now been treated.

Replacement signs which indicate the Alcohol Exclusion Zone in the ward have been erected after some of the signs had been stolen and Ness Road from the roundabout with Elm Road leading to ASDA has been resurfaced which had been deteriorating for some time. In addition, I also attended the monthly Taxi Drivers Association meeting where I was able to put a residents concern regarding alleged speeding by taxi drivers on Maplin Way and Maplin Way North to the committee and was able to help a resident in West Road with an anti-social behaviour issue.     

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Southend at its best...

Southend at its best. Not my words, but the words of a visitor who was interviewed on local ITV news after the Torch Relay passed through City Beach on Friday.

Despite the weather, thousands greeted the relay runners from the start at the Bell on the A127 to the borough boundary on the A13. It is estimated that 170,000 people lined the route in South Essex.

The phrase 'one in a lifetime' is often used but as the likelihood is we will never host the Olympics again in this country during my lifetime, this was a day that the relay runners and those involved in the choir will never forget.

The 'gold medal' undoubtedly goes to the 2012 primary school children across the town who formed the choir who greeted the runners at City Beach. They were simply outstanding. During the lunch break, I was speaking to one of the sponsors who said that after 49 days of the Torch Relay, Southend has been by far the best and it will take a lot to beat it before the games start on the 27th July.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Succinct description of why we’re in the state we’re in

Matthew Parris’s articles in The Times tempt me to take on an online subscription to the newspaper. With so much free quality comment, it’s not yet worth that expense. Here’s how Matthew spreads the blame for the reason our society is in its current state.

“We have been living beyond our means. We have been paying ourselves more than our efforts were earning. We sought political leaders who would assure us that the good times would never end and that the centuries of boom and bust were over; and we voted for those who offered that assurance.
We sought credit for which we had no security and we gave our business to the banks that advertised it. We wanted higher exam grades for our children and were rewarded with politicians prepared to supply them by lowering exam standards. We wanted free and better health care and demanded chancellors who paid for it without putting up our taxes.
We wanted salacious stories in our newspapers and bought the papers that broke the rules to provide them. And now we whimper and snarl at MPs, bankers and journalists. Fair enough, my friends, but, you know, we really are all in this together.”
Hat-tip to Guido Fawkes blog


My thanks to Cllr James Courtenay for alerting me to this on his blog, the Sacrilege event seems to be one not to miss for adults and children alike and deserves wider publicity.

Sacrilege is a life size inflatable replica of Stonehenge for people to bounce on designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller as part of the London 2012 Festival.

This Wednesday, for one day only, Sacrilege will be coming to Southend. Sacrilege will be available for people to use from 10:30 - 6pm at Priory Park. Further information on Sacrilege can be found here

Village Green Event

One of my favourite weekends of the year is the weekend of the Village Green Event in Chalkwell Park. It is a fantastic day out with many arts and craft stalls and activities for the kids. This year, I was asked if I would judge the classic bike competition and I was happy to oblige.

The winner was a classic bike from the home guards in the second world war and the owner had made the extra effort by dressing up in the original uniform and even had the compulsory 1940's army haircut to match. He was a deserving.

The Cycle Southend Team also had a number of exhibitions and activities for all ages and was challenged to ride the mini assort course. Needless to say my competitive nature came rising to the surface and made sure that I completed the course. The other challenge on offer was to show the effects of driving under the infulence of alcohol but putting on special goggles and trying to dribble a golf ball around three cones with a golf club which was a real eye opener.

I want to thank all the staff, stall holders and volunteers who put in a lot of effort to make the day possible an such an enjoyable occasion for all that visited.