In these dark times of austerity, good news should — it is this blogger’s opinion — be jumped upon and celebrated. So when two good news stories drop into my inbox on the same day, I’m starting to wonder if it’s Christmas.
I am an environmentalist at my core, though it is rooted in the same pragmatism as my socialism. I have little time for blind idealism; principle is worthless if it does not translate into action.
And the translation of principle into action is what these two pieces of news represent. Firstly, the roll-out of energy-efficient LED streetlights across Southend is being accelerated. Secondly, the Southend Energy Company has already saved Southend Residents over £100,000 since it started.
Why do these things matter? Because they make a difference.
Across Essex, there are campaigns to bring back night-time street lighting, district councils attempting to buy back what should be a basic service from Essex County Council. There are fears around rises in crime, around public safety, arguments which we in Southend have sidestepped.
Because not only will the lights stay on, not only will our CO2 emissions be cut, but this will save us money. Long term thinking at its finest, and exactly the sort of innovation that the people of Southend deserve.
And the Southend Energy Company? That, I think, is my favourite bit. Southend has some of the highest fuel poverty in Essex, and this is a real, tangible measure to help the people who most need helping. And, as with the streetlights, we are doing it at the same time as building a greener, more environmentally-friendly town for everyone.
Investing in the future in more senses than one.
I am in politics to make a difference, not to make myself feel better. I want to help my neighbours in this town, I want to make their lives better and easier. This is why I fight as hard as I do, because Labour in power in Southend, even with the government choking us bit by bit, are still managing to help those who are worst off and save the planet at the time.
It’s worth bearing in mind, particularly for those who voted for the Greens at the most recent election. Whilst Green activists are chasing publicity, photo opportunities, and making self-aggrandising shows of themselves, Labour in Southend are making the real difference.