GUEST BLOG: It’s always sunny in Kursaal


women's work

This is a guest post, written by Helen McDonald, Southend Labour’s candidate for Kursaal ward at the 2016 local elections. As such, the views and opinions expressed may differ radically from your blogger’s own. Some of them may even make sense…

For the past few weekends I’ve been knocking on the doors of Kursaal and, despite the miserable weather on more than one occasion, the residents have proved themselves to be a very welcoming bunch. The birthday cake was a particularly appreciated pick-me-up as was finding a fellow Dolly Parton fan!
Of course, it’s The Big Three that are causing the most upset (that’s parking, dog mess and litter for the uninitiated).

Read on…

On the 2016 Southend Council budget…


southend civic centre

So we come around to budget time again, in Southend-on-Sea, and it doesn’t make for exactly pleasant reading for those who don’t want to see the town cut away to nothing.

The Conservative government, in its wisdom, has decided that the Borough of Southend-on-Sea has £8.43m too much in funding, and so has issued another 28% cut to the council’s funding. In the national interest, we are told, but there’s a dishonesty at its core. The Treasury keeps loading the tough decisions onto councils to cover up the incompetence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, heading fast towards the point where vital services will become unsustainable.

In the light of all this, then, the budget constructed by the joint administration in Southend is a work of wonder, with services preserved and serious pain avoided. And having seen them utterly fail to scrutinise it at the three scrutiny committees last week, I can only presume that the Conservatives agree.

Read on…

Will the last copper out of Southend please turn off the lights?


Essex Police

So the declining size of Essex Police cannot have passed by anyone who lives in the county, or certainly not in Southend. Round after round of vicious cuts has hollowed out the numbers of frontline officers, PCSOs and support staff, leaving those few with a thanklessly difficult job.

Time and again we are reassured that there is no impact on the service provided, and that policing is as robust as ever, but even a five year old can figure out that if you keep taking and taking away from policing resources then it will be impossible to maintain the same standard of service (Might be one to remember, for the near future -Ed).

A particularly potent example reaches your blogger’s ears of anti-social behaviour in a residential Westcliff street one night last week. Persons of ill-repute were apparently knocking the wing mirrors off parked cars, and when residents called the police, they were unable to help because no cars were available.

In other news, the Essex police precept is going up in 2016/17, and Police & Crime Commissioner elections are on 5th May.

A Mad Man with a Blog’s top five films of 2015


film 2015

Okay, so we’re doing this. And if we’re doing this, then we need to lay out some ground rules.

Firstly, these are all going to be films that I’ve actually seen. Which was a little limiting, when I got down to it. Apparently a number of the films I quite liked this year were actually not films this year. Who knew?

Anyway, the second rule is that these are the films I most enjoyed. Which is a polite way of saying that it’s my list, and I’m choosing the films.

Other than that, enjoy and feel free to be wrong disagree in the comments.

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A Mad Man with a Blog’s top five posts of 2015


2015 wordpress summary

5. Kipperwatch! Southend UKIP PPC expelled from UKIP council group

In which I break the news that UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East has been kicked out of the UKIP council group.

4. On Jon Fuller, and the Green Party in Southend

In which I look at the policies, behaviour, and motivations of the Green Party’s 2015 candidate for Southend West, Jon Fuller.

3. Southend-on-Sea local election candidates 2015

In which I publish the full list of nominated candidates for the 2015 local elections in Southend-on-Sea.

2. Green Party ‘trade unionist’ PPC “doesn’t need to join a union”

In which I look at the rather odd contradiction of Southend Green Party’s parliamentary candidate, Simon Cross, whose support for trade unions doesn’t stretch to being a member of one.

1. Here’s why no one in the creative industries should vote Green

In which I explain why Green Party policy on copyright would irreparably damage the creative industries in the UK.

The top 10 maddest moments in Southend local politics 2015 (Part 2)


southend pier

You’ve come this far. Maybe you’re willing to come a little further...

Yes, the end of 2015 is truly upon us, and so as promised, I must offer the second part of my rundown of my 10 maddest moments in Southend politics.

Honestly, distilling it down to 10 was hard work. Deciding what got the top spot was harder still. It’s been a fun year, but looking back over it is more a cavalcade of the weird and wonderful. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, here is the first part, running through numbers 10 to 6.

Here is my top five, of the maddest moments in Southend local politics in 2015.

Read on…

2015: HBO, still idiots


game of thrones season 5

Regular readers will recognise this as a regular feature on my blog, the part where I have a pop at the marketing strategy of one of the most successful TV companies of all time, over one of the best TV series of all time. So here were go.

2015 draws to a close and, yes, HBO are once again idiots.

I am talking about the news that Game of Thrones is once again the most pirated TV show of the year (The link is to the BBC, because we’re British, but really it’s covered just about everywhere -Ed). Now, I say this every year, but as well as being a victim of its own success, this is partly a result of their approach to DVD releases.

Time and again I insist that people pirate because of convenience rather than expense. Given the popularity of Game of Thrones as a series you would have expected it to be the best selling Christmas DVD. But it’s not. Why? Because it’s not on sale until March.

They do this every damn year. They do this every year, when other shows are available on DVD practically as soon as the series is out. HBO could have topped the DVD best-sellers list with Game of Thrones at the end of 2015. Instead they topped the most pirated list.

Good going there, lads.

The top 10 maddest moments in Southend local politics 2015 (Part 1)


southend pier

Politics in Southend is, to be honest, a joy. You never know what’s going to come along next.

I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but politics seems to be particularly…weird around here. So in the spirit of the end-of-year listicle, I decided what better way to round off the year than with a rundown of my personal favourites of the lot (And split it over two posts to boost traffic -Ed).

Here it is then. Numbers 10 to 6 in my top 10 rundown of the maddest things that happened in 2015 in Southend local politics.

Read on…

07 “Flicker” (American Horror Story: Hotel) [SPOILERS]


american horror story hotel

On it rumbles, with a very real sense of making it up as it goes along.

Mainly, I think, because it is.

Part of the anathema of American Horror Story is that it’s a live experiment. Not all of the things it tries out work — no experiment is ever 100% successful — but it always seems to come across some interesting nuggets.

It’s a commitment to watch, in a way, because you never really know what it’s after a lot of the time. The previous four seasons have all, to varying degrees, pulled it together by the end, and are more notable for their successes than their failures. And that, ultimately, is the bar that Hotel has to meet.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)