This weekend the Labour Party campaign in Blenheim Park got started, with yours truly as the candidate.
Blenheim Park is an area which is currently represented by one councillor each from UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, and none have given residents the strong representation they need in local government.
Floyd Waterworth was elected for UKIP in May. In that time he has hardly distinguished himself. He and his party promised that they would abolish the cabinet system on Southend Borough Council in favour of the committee system. But when the vote came up, where was Cllr Waterworth? I still don’t know, but he apparently feels it no problem that his not turning up meant that he failed on his pledge.
And now he is UKIP candidate for Rochford & Southend East, far more interested in his own ambitions outside of his ward. Perhaps this explains why he is apparently doesn’t have time for council duties. That might, however, be for the best: when he does turn up, he has a tendency to insult the people of Southend.
Liberal Democrat leader Graham Longley is the longest serving of Blenheim Park’s councillors, and currently serves in the cabinet as portfolio holder for
photo opportunities Enterprise, Tourism & Economic Development. The Lib Dems have seen their presence culled on the council since 2010, down to only 5.
But with his seat on the council, Graham seems to have forgotten about his own ward. He is a regular presence in the local press, but more usually pictured at Victoria Avenue (Victoria ward) or Pier Hill (Milton ward).
And finally, James Courtenay, my Conservative opponent at the elections in May. James has seen a remarkable rise in his personal fortunes since his election in 2011. He served in Nigel Holdcroft’s council during the twilight years of the Conservative administration, and is looking like one of the two main contenders to succeed John Lamb as Conservative group leader.
Yes, James’ political career is going places, and one struggles to see his role as a ward councillor as much more than a stepping stone on the way to bigger things — one now more behind than in front of him.
Blenheim Park has been let down by all three parties: UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. Blenheim Park deserves better.
As Labour candidate I am offering residents that better choice. I am a passionate believer in the power of local government to transform communities and the lives of the people who comprise them. I believe that strong representation, by a strong representative, is the cornerstone to a process which in Southend stagnated and rotted under the Conservatives.
If the people of Blenheim Park want a councillor who will put them and the ward they live in first, then in 2015 I would ask them to put their trust in Labour; to put their trust in me.