Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Shoebury Common Review

Over the past couple of months, one of the most trumpeted policies of the new rainbow coalition is the decision to review the preferred option for flood defences at Shoebury Common. This despite two thirds of the current administration supporting the preferred option when in opposition.

The responsibility for flood defences now falls to Cllr Terry. During the scrutiny debate, Cllr Terry claimed that the review was to look at all options with a fresh pair of eyes but then announced that it would be highly unlikely that the current preferred option would be recommended from the review.

With such predetermination of the outcome, one has to ask why bother with a costly review when you have seemingly already made up your mind.

Scrutiny Projects

Every year, each of the three scrutiny committees chose an area or topic which they would like to closely scrutinise. These projects lead to recommendations which I have rarely seen them being ignored by cabinet. The Place scrutiny committee chose to look at the issue of Foreshore erosion. An admirable topic chosen despite the warnings given the Corporate Director that specialist technical personnel would need to be brought in at vast expense and the council has no budget for it.

Whilst the funding of the project is an important issue in its own right, it was the seemingly odd behaviour of the West Shoebury UKIP councillor James Moyies. Despite his loathing of anything EU or European, he suggested, to howls of laughter, that the Council should approach the EU to fund the project. Despite seeming to be a strong advocate for the project he then bizarrely voted against the project when it came to a vote.

There is a saying that when in a hole you should stop digging. Cllr Moyies then suggested that we should approach the UKIP MEP's, the largest MEP contingent in the UK, to put pressure on Brussels for funding. This again was greeted with roars of laughter when it was pointed out that UKIP were officially the laziest group of MEP's with the worst attendance record of any party from any member state.

Many a UKIP councillor has sadly been derided for their incompetence once elected. If this is the calibre   that residents of West Shoebury can expect over the next four years then god help us!

For The Love Of CCTV

During a debate on one item, members digressed and the issue of the council's CCTV Vehicles was being spoke about.

We heard the starting admission that the Independent Party leader and new portfolio holder for Transport Cllr Terry that he a big fan of the CCTV Vehicles.

Surely this is a hint of double standards when he and his party famously used this poster during an election campaign.

Campfield Road Taxi Rank - The Scrutiny Debate

This week saw the first scrutiny committee under the rainbow administration, the first real test of the new portfolio holders under interrogation. I will blog further on the Place scrutiny committee in a later post.

An item which will not receive much attention from the cabinet papers will be the taxi rank outside the doctors surgery in Campfield Road. I have to give credit where credit is due and was pleased that Cllr Terry held his nerve and agreed to maintain the status quo despite the plausible nonsense from Cllr Chalk.

I was also interested to hear the contribution from newly elected UKIP West Shoebury councillor James Moyies on this item. James agreed that the rank should be retained but bizarrely chose to vote along with Cllr Chalk to refer the item back to cabinet. This proposal was defeated.

Part of James Moyies contribution was to propose that any unnecessary yellow lines and the disused bus stop in Towerfield Road be converted into formal parking, citing the potential parking stress in the area when the new Morrisons store opens on the corner of Campfield Road and Ness Road.

You may be thinking that you had heard this proposal before? You had, from me, two weeks ago. Under other circumstances I would have put it down as great minds think alike, but sadly, I can not. Avid followers will recall that I exposed a leaked email from James Moyies to UKIP party members where he boasted that he followed my blog to save him time and effort. It would seam that a leopard never changes its spots!

Residents in West Shoebury must be wondering why they have a sheep in wools clothing in UKIP, when they can have the real thing in Conservatives.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Campfield Road Taxi Rank

This week, the new rainbow coalition held its first Cabinet meeting. Whilst most of the cabinet items seemed innocuous, there were still some items of importance which posed more questions than it did answers. I will save blogging on these until after the scrutiny committees have met to discuss these items.

One of the seemingly innocuous items was the petition, organised by Shoeburyness Independent Party councillor Anne Chalk, to remove the taxi rank from outside the Doctors surgery in Campfield Road, Shoeburyness.

Thankfully the decision to retain the rank was taken. I believe this was the correct decision as in the absence of a bus service, the local taxi service is the only mode of public transport available to take passengers to and from the Doctors Surgery.

If the rank had been removed to allow for free for all parking as the petition suggests, would have simply be taken up by staff at the surgery before patients arrived. This would have been the worst of both worlds.

I agree with the decision to create additional parking bays on the disused taxi rank in Avon Way but I do feel a trick has been missed. With the new arrival of the Morrison local store imminent on the corner of Campfield Road and Ness Road, this should have been the occasion to create additional parking spaces in Towerfield Road.

In Towerfield Road, there are swathes of unnecessary yellow lines to facilitate a bus stop for a service that no longer exists. This should be utilised to help combat the inevitable parking stress on this area.

C2C Rail Franchise

It was fantastic news to hear that C2C had won the 15 year franchise for the Shoeburyness to Fenchurch Street line. Finally, common sense had prevailed as C2C has been the franchise that has turned this line from being dubbed the 'misery line' to the best performing line for punctuality.

I know a lot of people have been involved in the lobbying of Government to award the franchise to C2C but I feel a sense of job done as this was a priority of mine and Officers when I held the transport brief.

East Beach Cafe

With the beach now re-opened following the discovery of ordinance, there was further good news that work is due to start on the new restaurant to replace the former East Beach cafe which was destroyed by fire. Having viewed the plans, I am convinced that, once built, East Beach will become the place to visit following the previous investment in the new car park layout and the return of the Beach Huts.

Extended Schools In Shoeburyness To Close

I read with some dismay at the decision of Shoeburyness High School to withdraw funding for the Extended Schools Initiative, which runs schemes not just for the school but for people of all ages in the East of Southend.

The work has been highly valued which resulted in one of the co-ordinators, Karen Stock, receiving an OBE for her work in the role. It was the Extended Schools programme which organised the Shoebury Debates, which led to pupils gaining £40,000 in funding for two new crossings at the Elm Road roundabout.

I had concerns when the headteacher Mark Schofield became a super headteacher, also taking over control of Cecil Jones, that the quality of education at Shoeburyness High School would suffer. The decision to axe Extended Schools compounds my fears.

I was pleased to see Independent Party councillor Mike Assenheim and my former colleague Roger Hadley outside the school condemning the decision. I was rather surprised to see that Shoeburyness Independent Party councillor chose to criticise Mike and Roger for forming an alliance in condemning the decision rather than joining them in the fight.

Is this woman completely and utterly bonkers and finally lost the plot? I would have previously suggested that the decision to criticise was a deep seated loathing of Conservatives but considering she tried to broker a deal with the Conservative Group after the local elections to be a portfolio holder I'm not so sure.