How to lose friends & alienate people – Southend Tory edition

cllr georgina phillips

Having blogged only yesterday about the volatile relationships between members of Southend Borough Council’s Independent Party Group, it seems that they aren’t the only ones with a talent for losing friends and alienating people.

You wouldn’t believe the things which find their way to my inbox. A lot of spam and Nigerian princes with millions of dollars, mostly, but occasionally something interesting appears. Today, for instance, it seems that a member of the Conservative group has seriously annoyed a Liberal Democrat councillor.

Nothing especially surprising there, but causing enough offence to prompt a particularly aggrieved complaint to John Lamb, local Conservative leader, is something of a slightly different order.

The Lib Dem in question I will leave nameless — though there are few enough of them left that it shouldn’t be too hard to deduce — but it seems they received a very angry phone call from West Leigh’s Cllr Georgina Phillips, making accusations against them. I’m unsure of the precise nature, but it has something to do with a letter from a member of the public to the Leigh Times.

Oddly, this isn’t the first I have heard of Cllr Phillips’ behaviour. The rumour mill has it that she isn’t burdened with an over-abundance of popularity even amongst her Tory colleagues. She is regarded as “troublesome”. Which is a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it — though some level of co-operation is necessary for a ward councillor to do their job.

The catalyst for the Lib Dem complaint is a little unclear; it seems to have something to do with Cllr Phillips’ nebulous title of “official spokesperson for pub watch”. She also seems to have been using her husband’s profession as a solicitor as a tool of intimidation. Not very civic-minded of her…

The email of complaint brands her “the nastiest and most obnoxious woman I have ever come across”, that she has “gone too far this time”, and that she:

will end up destroying the inter party working relationship that takes place within the council by trying to support ward councillors on ward issues

In all of this, it’s worth remembering that Cllr Phillips was only elected in January, in the by-election to replace former-cllr Gwen Horrigan. That’s not a long time in which to have made so many enemies; James Duddridge, by comparison, has taken the better part of a decade as an MP to alienate everyone. It will be interesting to see what, if any, action Cllr Lamb takes.

Cllr Phillips is also up for re-election next May. In the elections just gone, the Conservatives held West Leigh with a majority of 349. But when Cllr Phillips won her by-election, she did so with a bare majority of only 55. In election terms, that ain’t a whole lot.

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