Prittlewell Lib Dems focus on 2016, because they’ve given up on 2015

prittlewell focus spring 2015

Pictured above is the Lib Dem leaflet which has been creeping out across Prittlewell ward.

This was a Lib Dem stronghold at one point in the not too distant past, but like all of the other wards fitting that description (Except Leigh. So far -Ed), their support has dropped off a cliff.

Presently the ward boasts one remaining Liberal Democrat, an Independent, and a UKIP councillor. The Independent is, of course, Ric Morgan, who was a Lib Dem once himself. Now he’s a member of the Liberal Party, and sits in the council with the Independent Party Group. He’s standing down this year, so chances are fancied by the Tories, UKIP and the Lib Dems — as well as Labour’s own Tony Borton.

Like Julian Ware-Lane, I can’t see this seat going back to/staying with the yellow party, but if their leaflet is anything to go by, they’ve already given up on 2015 and are fighting 2016.

Read on…

Cllr Courtenay’s Record

blenheim record

So it looks like the identikit “Record” series of A5 leaflets from Southend Conservatives have reached Blenheim Park ward at last.

Or Blenheim ward, at least, with Cllr James Courtenay apparently suffering the same lack of geographical awareness as the Liberal Democrat candidate (And, given that the Green Party made the self-same mistake in their candidate announcement, we’re just waiting for UKIP to decide if they’re bothering this year, and we’ll have a full house -Ed).

These have been going out across Southend, presumably as they’re cheap and easily to produce, requiring only a change in the ward name on the front page and contact details on the back. I haven’t actually scrutinised one of these leaflets in any great depth yet, and now that I do, I’m not desperately impressed. Someone pass me a red pen.

Read on…

Cllr Liz Day to stand down in West Shoebury

The news that Liz Day is standing down from her council seat in West Shoebury a year before she is up for re-election isn’t exactly news, in the traditional sense. I’d wager that most of those connected to Southend politics in any informed or meaningful way have known that Liz has been battling illness for a while. For anyone who did not know, and who wondered why her absences from the council chamber were not being remarked upon, there you have your answer. Some things are not for politicking.

I have never met Liz Day, but if a politician is to be judged by their esteem in the eyes of their colleagues and constituents (Which they are -Ed), then West Shoebury residents have done well by her service over the years.

I send my best wishes to Liz and her family, as well as my thanks as a resident of Southend for her service.

10 “Divine Move” (12 Monkeys season 1) [SPOILERS]

12 monkeys


It’s a nice thing when a TV series isn’t predictable. A good twist can redefine the story and keep the audience guessing.

12 Monkeys, though, takes it to another level. This isn’t just the occasional twist, or even the end-of-epiosde cliffhanger. I genuinely have very little clue where this is going, and each new episode seems to invalidate my predictions born out of its predecessors.

It’s a good thing. But as I’ve said before, it’s a bit concerning. I don’t mind not knowing where it’s going, but the thing that does and which would worry me is if the writers don’t.

That, after all, was what turned me off Lost; the sense that the title was a description of the writers.

I’m not feeling that way yet with 12 Monkeys. It has the film to guide it, and it’s fast-paced, take no prisoners attitude to the story is a big plus in my book. With the end of the season on the horizon, though, and with a second confirmed, I will be wondering a little if a grander idea for a longer series is going to emerge soon.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

45 Days Out: the view from Blenheim Park

matt dent for blenheim park

It was another busy weekend for Blenheim Park Labour, campaigning hard across the ward by taking the novel step of, err, actually talking to people. I remain heartened by the responses I receive when I knock on doors. There are, of course, the few who are not interested, whether in Labour or in politicians in general.

Most, though, are receptive, with their own perspectives on Blenheim Park, Southend, and the country. The number of times that my hand has been warmly clasped as soon as the door opens, with words to the effect of “You’ve got my vote”, outnumbers the times that I’ve had an instant go away. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who has been called upon by any of the other parties — which, at this stage, is disappointing. And the fact that none of the residents I’ve spoken to have been able to name any of their local councillors is even more disappointing.

I did bump into Tory Cllr Lesley Salter, who was delivering leaflets for James Courtenay. A perfectly pleasant woman, and we had a cheerful conversation despite the cold wind, but I can’t help but wonder what it says about the resources of Southend Conservatives if Cllr Salter, up for re-election in her own Belfairs ward, is being drafted in to help James leaflet.

And whilst UKIP PPC Brian Otridge seems confident to the point of arrogance that his party will win a second Blenheim Park seat (They might like to select a candidate, before they start measuring for curtains -Ed), the one person I spoke to who specifically mentioned UKIP was less than glowing.

Well, I had thought about voting UKIP, but around here they’re just a bunch of clowns, aren’t they?

You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment…

Southend Against Tax Dodging


Congratulations are due (Overdue -Ed) to one of my local councillors.

Cheryl Nevin, Labour councillor for Milton, has impressed me since I first met her, clipboard in hand, knocking on doors in her election campaign on an overcast and blustery autumn day. I know that I am not the only Milton resident with a favourable opinion of her; I have knocked on the doors of many, to be greeted with warm words and admiration for Cheryl.

Her latest achievement is a motion before the council, calling on the government to crack down on some of the £120 billion lost to tax avoidance. The motion is part of ActionAid’s “Towns Against Tax Dodging” campaigning, and has now received the backing of the cabinet — which, given the fact that it consists of three parties two parties and a “group”.

So provided that no councillor objects and calls it in to full council, it will be adopted by Southend Borough Council.

There is a perception that a councillor or a council can do little ultimately to influence national policy. And maybe that’s right. But I’ve always maintained that the key role of a councillor is to be a voice for their residents. In this, Cheryl is fitting the brief and then some.

I fully expect that the Conservative-led government will pay no heed to Southend. But given that the council has been forced to deal with nearly £12 million of cuts, which when compared to other councils under different political control feels downright punitive, to do anything but speak out against the abhorrent failure to tackle endemic tax corporate tax avoidance would be a disservice to the town.

And let’s not forget that HMRC is still a major employer in the town. Investment in tax inspectors to track down the missing billions could benefit Southend twice over: in swelling the public purse and lessening the cuts inflicted on local government, and in potentially bringing a raft of new jobs to the town.

If you’re not a resident of Southend, then you can call on your council to support the Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign here, on ActionAid’s website.

Read the motion

More rubbish about rubbish from Southend Conservatives

mark flewitt burning money

So despite my call a few weeks ago, the Southend Conservative group haven’t sacked Cllr Mark Flewitt. Which is a shame, but perhaps I shouldn’t be looking for moral backbone from this group of Tories.

So Cllr Flewitt is still about, still a senior figure on their frontbench, and still — naturally — trying to pass off utter gibberish as a meaningful political contribution.

His latest blog, mercifully, is short. And appears to be written in something rather closer to English than some of his other offerings. Unfortunately, that only makes it easier to notice that one of the central points he makes is, err, demonstrably false.


Read on…