Belfairs Conservatives! What is going on?


belfairs conservatives intouch winter 2015

Belfairs ward, in Southend, is nominally fairly safe Conservative ground. It has two Conservative councillors and one Independent — a former Tory elected as an Independent after some internecine bloodletting saw him deselected.

This year it is one of the Conservatives, Cllr Lesley Salter, up for re-election, and the above is a leaflet from her. I say from her, because, as Cllr Ware-Lane has already pointed out, it doesn’t mention her ward colleague Mo Butler — and the there is the suggestion from some parties that Cllr Butler has been asked to leave the Conservatives.

What strikes me, though, is how useless a political leaflet this is.

Now, I am not for a moment saying that flooding isn’t an important issue. It patently is; hence the amount of debate around the Shoebury flood defences. And though I am not overly familiar with Belfairs’ own troubles on the subject, there is some dissatisfaction with Anglian Water across the town.

That said, this is a two page glossy leaflet, entirely devoted to the subject of fairly localised flooding. It’s important, yes, but all important?

It’s also, which the leaflet actually acknowledged, not entirely a council issue. This is something which often gets lost around elections, particularly when different sorts of elections are held simultaneously (Imagine the consternation of UKIP voters who, on the morning of May 23rd awoke to find five UKIP councillors and yet Southend inexplicably still not relocated back to the 1950s part of the EU -Ed).

I understand, as I say, why flooding features. But surely Cllr Salter is doing something else as well as tossing and turning at night over flood waters?

Strange you should ask, because actually yes she is. She’s pushing to close Priory House care home.

It was Cllr Salter in the first place, of course, who made the decision to close the care home, against the wishes of families and, as expressed at the ballot box, the electorate. Strange that she still persists with the rejected and reversed policy — of all the policies to die in a ditch over, being in favour of closing care homes is not the one I would have chosen.

I suspect that this, as with Cllr Garston’s leaflet in Milton a few months back, is just more evidence that the Tories are out of ideas. It takes a while to adjust after the shift from power to opposition, but their intellectual bankruptcy was apparent even before they were booted out of power by the voters of Southend. The last few years of their administration are best described as a managed decline.

And this is the end result. Cllr Lesley Salter, one of the most senior and capable Conservatives left in the council chamber, reduced to two pages about flooding beyond her control, culminating in a couple of helpline numbers.

Still, not a calendar in sight.

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