Thursday, 20 November 2014

Southend Homes for Southend Residents?

According to report in today's Echo, this evening, Southend Council were debating the purchase of homes to increase its council housing stock. The planned purchase also included buying homes in neighbouring authorities Castle Point and Rochford as well as in places as far away as Thurrock.

Early on this year, I sat in a debate on the potential impacts of the governments welfare cap when members, who now form the administration, were lining up one by one to criticise London boroughs for buying homes in Southend for their tennents.

By proposing to do the same, this smacks of hypocracy of the highest order should those members who made these comments vote the proposals through. In principle, I believe that trying to increase the social housing stock is a laudable aim considering the chronic housing waiting list that Southend has.

I do however believe in 'Southend homes for Southend residents' and that the purchase of homes should stop at the borough boundary. Should any resident wish to see the outcome of the debate they will be disappointed as it is being held behind closed doors. I do not see why the principle could not be held in public.

If I was a betting man, I suspect that this item is being discussed behind closed doors as the method of payment to purchase these properties will be by borrowing the money and therefore sparing the embarrassment of Cllr Woodley considering his claim at the last full Council meeting that the Council would not fund any new projects from borrowing.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Delivered to my inbox this evening was a copy of the latest newsletter from the Burgess Estate Residents Association (BERA).

The newsletter was sent by a bemused BERA member as it would appear that BERA Chairman Ron Woodley is talking to himself. For those readers who are unaware, BERA Chairman Ron Woodley is also an elected councillor and Leader of Southend Council.

Contained in the newsletter was this little gem:

"The Council having been reminded of their Civic responsibility to maintain an attractive street scene, including our parks and open spaces, have responded accordingly."

I wonder when the BERA Chairman reminded the Leader of the Council? Still, the BERA Chairman/Leader of the Council didn't have far to go to remind the culprit for letting things slip in Thorpe Bay as the Portfolio Holder for clenliness in Southend is none other than his Thorpe Bay ward colleague and BERA member Cllr Martin Terry!

No Laughing Matter Cllr Terry

In today's Echo there was an article which claims that the Council may be on the verge of losing funding for seawall improvements at Shoebury Common. It would appear from the grinning Cllr Terry that he seems delighted at the prospect. I'm not sure residents who live on the flood plain at Shoebury Common will share his laughter if, as predicted, Britain is hit by extreme weather and further flooding this winter.

Cllr Moyies Is He Ukip? Oh No He Isn't

Time to get the popcorn ready as the Ukip pantomime is in full swing. Southend Ukip, the party that just keeps on giving...

Enjoying The Perks of Power

Last month, full council decided in a narrow vote to retain the current Cabinet system rather than return to a committee system of local government.

Rather than rehash the merits of cabinet v committee system debate, I think we need to look closer at the actions of one of those who abstained from voting in the debate - the leader of the council Ron Woodley.

At first glance it does seem rather odd that anybody wouldn't vote on a paper which had their name on it. It was also interesting to see the pro cabinet bias.

This is in complete contrast to the comment Cllr Woodley gave to the Echo on the 20th June when he stated:

"We have also asked officers to look at reviewing the cabinet system of decision making and to consider whether we should move back to a committee system in the next municipal year, making the council more open, transparent and honest in its decision making process."

Or the comment he gave to the Local Government Chronicle in an article on Council's returning to Committee System when Cllr Woodley stated:

“The cabinet has been a dictatorship of eight or nine people and I think that is wrong. The right way is to involve as many councillors in decisions as possible.”

His abstention was designed to give the impression that he is a relaxed leader prepared to lead however his disciples saw fit yet what he abstention really says is that since being elevated to the leader of council he quite likes being supreme leader of the dictatorship that he describes.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Lame Duck Leader

When first looking at the title of this post you could be forgiven in thinking that this would be about Ed Milliband, but the major local political story this week was the revelation in the Southend Echo of the open warfare with the Southend UKIP branch.

I had long suspected this may be the case but now it has spilled over into the public domain. This story was first broken by Conservative blogger James Courtenay.

Although James Moyies is leader of the local UKIP group it does remain to be seen for how much longer. Just last month, we had Cllr Davies, though to be considered an ally of James Moyies, openly criticising him. This is quite impressive as they have only been elected for six months.

It has been interesting looking at the performance of UKIP since May. It has generally been accepted that their attendance has been woeful, We have had Cllr Davies organising a game of Monopoly whilst the Council were discussing the closure of local Care Home.

Cllr Waterworth's big idea was to lobby the Leader of the Council to relax the dress code. Looking at how Cllr Davies was dressed to honour the war dead at the Remembrance Service it seems he has taken Cllr Waterworth's advice as this was straight from the Michael Foot campaign guide!

Still, at least residents will know that when UKIP claim they are fight for local residents what they really mean is that they are fighting each other.

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