Coup or coronation? Meet the Southend Independents’ new leader


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I’ve said before that one thing that unifies Southend Independent Party Group is an inability to play well with others. Represented in their number is former Labour candidates, former Lib Dem candidates, and until very recently a former Tory.

The news that Cllr Steve Aylen has left the Independent Party Group after a falling out with Ron Woodley is scarcely news. Conservative blogger Cllr Mark Flewitt already covered it in his stream-of-consciousness style, and the Southend Echo in something a little closer to English.

I don’t want to get too deep into Cllr Aylen’s accusations (Putting it simply, I have heard that he was rather brusque to an officer, but that Cllr Woodley threatened him in open committee -Ed), but whilst I don’t agree with Steve on a great deal of subjects — not least culling deer in Belfairs Wood — I have always found him pleasant to deal with and entertaining in the council chamber.

But one of the points Cllr Aylen made when quitting the Independent Party Group was how much like a political party it had become. Hardly a surprise to most of us, but strenuously denied by Messers Woodley and Terry. But given that my little birds this morning report to me that Martin Terry has stepped down as the leader spokesperson of the Independents, to be replaced by Cllr Mike Assenheim, this blogger wonders how much longer the fallacy can continue.

Read on…

Ant Man – A Review


ant man

Marvel have reached the point, now, where they can basically do anything and it’s presumed it will be a hit. This ability to print gold is a fairly recent development, likely stemming from the surprise hit that was Guardians of the Galaxy.

Part of it is the formula that Marvel (Read: Disney -Ed) have hit upon, combining quirky characters, a script which doesn’t take itself too seriously, and an ever changing cast of actors and actresses you know from that thing. This time we get the bloke from Basic Instinct, Phoebe’s husband from Friends, and the woman from Lost. Oh, and the alcoholic from the first season of House of Cards.

Ant-Man, I suspect, alongside the expected Doctor Strange film of next year, is Marvel reaching the stage of trolling DC that it can make the lesser known, frankly more absurd, properties into successful films before DC can get a Justice League film together.

So the pertinent question is, can they?

Read on…

08 “My Name Is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You” (Defiance season 3) [SPOILERS]


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Why is nobody watching this show?

I mean, it’s a mystery. You can’t blame that on it being a SyFy show. Battlestar Galactica was SyFy, and that was massive. But Defiance is a hugely original and innovative snow, not a remake, not derivative, but something new. It’s exactly what should have a mass audience. So why do I feel like I’m basically talking to myself with these reviews?

In a very real sense, we get the TV and film we deserve. If we aren’t prepared the back the innovative, we don’t really have a leg to stand on when we moan about the derivative. So if anyone wondered why I’m persisting with these reviews, there’s your answer. Because when I complain about all the sh*te, Defiance is the counter-example I point to.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Letter to the Editor: Council allowance debate disappointment


Sir,

Having watched some of council meeting last Thursday, I saw the debate on councillors allowances, and I have to say I am deeply disappointed.

In an year which has seen Southend’s budget slashed by the government by £11m, how unedifying to see councillor after councillor to stand up to defend their own allowances and benefits.

I cannot decide what was worse. Perhaps the Conservative Group voting nearly on mass to hold onto their taxpayer-funded printers, rather than travel in to the Civic Centre for their free printing. Or perhaps Independent councillors Mike Stafford and Brian Ayling fighting to keep their allowances as committee chairs, equivalent to some £1,000 per meeting.

If only they fought as hard for their constituents.

On the other hand, credit is due to the Labour group for voting as a whole not to reward themselves as Southend residents suffer cuts to vital services; and to the cabinet for rejecting a wholly inappropriate 5% rise in their own allowances.

I would urge all voters in Southend to watch the webcast, and see how their representatives respond when asked to make sacrifices themselves. The truth is very revealing.

Matt Dent

Westcliff-on-Sea

Rochford & Southend East Labour nominate Cooper and Creasy


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Last night’s nomination meeting Rochford & Southend East Constituency Labour Party is, by a long way, the fullest I’ve seen the Labour Hall in Southend. 43 people, in all, turned out to make the decision for who we, as the local Party, should nominate for the leadership and deputy leadership race.

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Cllr Brian Ayling should be ashamed of his allowance money grubbing


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I already touched on this in my overview of Southend Borough Council’s debate on councillors’ allowances, but there were a few councillors who utterly disgraced themselves over the course of the night.

There was, for instance, the gross spectacle of the Conservative group voting almost en masse to cling onto their taxpayer-funded printer paper and ink, because they didn’t want the aggravation of having to come into the Civic Centre to print. These being the same people happy to close care homes, sack library staff, and inflict the bedroom tax on Southend’s very poorest.

But I expect no more from them. The callous, selfish cruelty they displayed is not a new occurrence.

For me, the most unedifying event of the night was Cllr Brian Ayling, an Independent Party Group councillor in St Luke’s ward, fighting tooth and nail not for his residents, but for his own “special responsibility allowance” as chair of one the Council’s appeals committees.

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Building on Blenheim Park should not simply be waved through


matt dent for blenheim park

Nimbyism (Nimby standing for “Not In My Back Yard -Ed) is not something I could usually be accused of, given that I routinely reject the myth that this country is overcrowded, and call in particular for more house building. That does not, though, mean that all building is going to meet with my approval.

Take, for instance, the proposals to build a football pavilion in the Blenheim Park (The actual park, not the ward -Ed).

Now, community sports are a good thing. As a general rule I’d encourage such clubs on public land. But this proposal will involve building a sizeable facility on one of the few public, green spaces in the town. The loss of that green space should not, in my view, be waved through without careful consultation with residents.

Here I have the advantage of having spoken within the last two months to residents along Blenheim Chase, the adjacent road. As such I know that they have concerns about both the loss of the green space in the park, and of the parking problems which would be exacerbated by the increased usage of the area for sports events. Despite what the Council may think, this is a matter about which residents of Blenheim Park and Southend as a whole care.

This administration has a good record on listening to residents; whereas the previous Tory administration would plough onwards with what it wanted regardless of what residents wanted, the joint administration has shown that it will recognise when it has made a mistake and take measures to rectify those mistakes. I urge it to listen now, and I urge all residents who have an opinion on this to respond to the Council’s consultation.

I am no nimby, but I am a long way from convinced that this development is the best thing for Blenheim Park or Southend.

Attack of the (Twitter) Clones


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Twitter is a weird place, sometimes.

A while back an account cropped up with my name on it, my profile picture, following a lot of folks who I follow/follow me, but which definitely wasn’t me. It hung around for a while, until I was deeply weirded out, a number of people had commented upon the oddity, and it had been reported a number of times over. And then it was gone.

Which would have been strange enough, but to make this a little more Twilight Zone, the last week has seen two more of these things appear. The first tweeted a stream of Russian gibberish before going the way of the dinosaurs (Extinction, not evolving into birds… -Ed). The latest is just sitting there, watching me.

I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a weird mix of creepy and intriguing at the moment, and I’m wondering if I’m about to be replaced by social media body snatchers, or if we’re in for a Chronicles of Riddick moment where they all kneel before me and I use them as an army to take over the world.

Hopefully the latter.

More likely the former.

(I, for one, welcome our new spambot overlords -Ed)

But for the moment, accept no imitations. Check the Twitter handle and what language the account is tweeting in. My Russian, I have to say, is incredibly rusty.

Why should Liz Kendall give up?


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An interesting thing seems to have cropped up of late; here and there, the suggestion that Liz Kendall should drop out of the Labour leadership race.

I say interesting, what I mean is utterly perplexing. So far as I can see, there is not much reason why should even consider it.

The theory seems to go that she should drop out of the race and endorse Yvette Cooper, in an effort to stop Jeremy Corbyn from winning the leadership and leading Labour to their biggest catastrophe since 1983. And whilst I do hope that Yvette wins and believe that Jeremy Corbyn would not be good for the Party, the idea that Liz’s presence or not on the ballot paper can have any influence on this is simply ignorant of the facts.

Read on…