Well, everyone else was punning…
So the Southend Tories have done a George W. Bush and declared mission accomplished in their long and bitter war against the closure of toilets. They can now presumably go back to their long and bitter struggle to close Priory House care home.
On a serious note, I was never particularly pleased with the proposal to close public toilets, its presence marring what I think is generally a pretty good budget, Southend’s £11 million Tory cut considered. I spoke out against it in the Labour group meeting, and hoped that it wouldn’t be part of the final passed budget.
Now, of course, we know that it won’t.
The Conservatives are, of course, claiming credit, but I have to say that I think a large share belongs to a Labour voice: Julian Ware-Lane.
Never shy about his achievements, Julian has claimed as much on his own blog, but he has the evidence to back up his opposition. Anyone who knows Julian will testify to how persuasive (That’s one way to put it… -Ed) he is, and I think it would be churlish to deny his role. This is, as Julian says, in large part a victory for himself and Southend Labour party.
Nigel Holdcroft and James Courtenay reckon that they strong contributed, both having touched the subject on their blogs and probably having reached a readership of double figures (Just about… -Ed) in the process.
Roger Hadley, perhaps, has done a little bit more, the former Tory councillor jumping on the campaign to save the toilets like a man standing for election in one of the affected wards. Wait, what? You mean he is? Well, it would surely be the very height of cynicism to ascribe his enthusiasm to that…
In the end, what has happened here is that something has been proposed, and been found to be hugely unpopular. You can argue about whether the responsible councillor, Independent
Party Group leader Martin Terry ought to have foreseen this (No you can’t! It was obviously a terrible idea from the off! -Ed), but he did at least have the good grace to reconsider. That is something from which the Tories could learn, after they arrogantly refused to listen over library staffing, closing care homes, and the Shoebury flood defences. I’m looking at you, Tony Cox.
U-turns can be damaging, yes, and too many give the impression of a weak administration. But the truth is that for fourteen years the people of Southend had a council administration which considered itself born to rule, and was unwilling to listen to what they thought. The Conservatives were heavily punished for that attitude.
And whatever else you might say about the joint administration, it is at least a breath of fresh air that it is prepared to listen, reconsider, and admit when it was wrong.