Sunday, 13 December 2015

Southend Energy Company

Recently, Southend Council has set up its own energy company with the noble aim of trying to reduce fuel poverty in the town. I would always encourage residents to compare energy prices to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere.

Yesterday evening, Mrs Cox received a personalised letter from Leader of the Council Ron Woodley encouraging Mrs C to switch to OVO Energy. Curiously, my name was left off the letter. Is this a deliberate ploy to target female members of households?

My colleague, Cllr James Courtenay, raised a question on the cost of marketing of this letter at Full Council last Thursday. The answer was revealing. In effect, the Leader of the Council has had a £7,000 marketing campaign paid for at Council Taxpayer expense. Does the Leader of the Council really have such a big enough ego to think that his name alone will encourage people to flock en mass to OVO Energy.

Never in my time as part of the previous administration did, I, my colleagues, or the Leader of the Council ever have such a luxury of a personalised £7,000 self promotion budget. The responsible thing to do would have the letter sent in either the Corporate Director or Chief Executive's name.

To be clear, I do not have a personal problem with Southend Council creating its own Energy Company. If residents can get the best possible deal with OVO Energy then great. There were some aspects of the report when the energy company was set up - especially with the Solar Panels option which in effect mean that Southend Council are nationalising your roof.

After receiving the letter, I did look at what OVO Energy could save me on my current energy bills. Unfortunately, there was no such luck. Moving to OVO Energy would have actually cost me an extra £216 a year.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Questions From Members of the Council

A permanent feature at Full Council meetings is the half an hour allocated to members to ask questions to either the Leader of the Council of Portfolio Holder on any subject of their choice.
As it is coming to the budget setting time the Leader is trotting out his well used line that borrowing was too high under the previous administration.
I decided to use one of my two permitted questions yesterday evening to finally get to the bottom of the Leader's well rehearsed line.
On page 5 of the tabled questions, I asked the Leader to tell the Council which schemes under the previous Conservative administration that were financed by borrowing he would not have proceeded with.  
As you can see from the written response, it was a long winded answer to say none! As a suplimentary question, I asked the Leader of the Council if he could tell the Chamber which schemes he voted against in opposition.
Again, the answer was quite revealing. He couldn't name any! To view the exchange, you can watch the webcast here

Choices, choices, choices

Choices. This was very much the buzz word during the HIV motion which was debated at Full Council last night.

Cabinet had made the decision not to proceed with the motion based purely on costs. Full Council voted last night to ask Cabinet to reconsider the decision.  

During the previous Cabinet cycle, the current administration put through a paper to take out over £500,000 from the Public Health budget. If you have a look at where the savings were made these were to some of the most disadvantaged in society.

When savings have to be made, this can, on occasions, be seen as inertia not to do anything. It is claimed that there was no money for HIV testing yet money was found by the public health team to sponsor the recent Southend United v Blackpool fixture.

A quick look at the sponsorship packages on the Southend United website show that match sponsorship packages range between £1,000 - £1,200. These packages include:
  • An Executive Box for 10 people
  • Champaigne Reception
  • Wines, beers and soft drinks
  • Pre match hot buffet
In austere times, is this a priority on what public money should be spent on? For me, it sends out completely the wrong message.