Anne, most alert Southenders will know, is the indefatigable councillor for Kursaal and the portfolio holder for Children & Learning within the Joint Administration. Chas, of course, was elected last year as the most recent councillor for Westborough ward.
There is a certain symmetry, therefore, that Anne will be contesting Westborough ward herself next May.
I’ve already had comments from certain Conservative councillors on this move, though I would note that unlike in the case of Cllr David Garston’s relocation, nobody has been deselected by Southend Labour. Nor, really, can this be described as a “chicken run” (Copyright Martin Terry, patent pending -Ed), since after Cllr McMahon’s re-election this year with a 400+ majority, only a fool would have bet against Anne holding her seat.
No, this is down to a number of factors. Namely, that Labour members in Westborough — with whom Anne has a very good relationship, having been one of their number herself — wanted her to stand against Dr Vel; that the Labour Party is beginning its long-awaited expansion into Southend West (More on that to follow -Ed); and that Anne herself wanted to make the move.
Personally, I’m delighted. I’m always keen for a challenge, and Westborough has been saddled with the ineffective “conservative-minded Independent” Dr Vel, who freely tells the community association that he “delegates” all of his work to Labour’s Cllr Robinson. Anne is a heavyweight (Metaphorically -Ed) local politician, who will add yet more gravitas to the Westborough council delegation from next May.
And to be writing this on the day that news comes out that Southend GCSE results are soaring above the national average seems perfectly fitting. Cllr Jones has put a lot of time, energy, and passion into her role as portfolio holder for Children & Learning.
Yes, this election campaign will see me trailing around Westborough ward with Anne, and doing so with a smile on my face right up until she is declared its newest councillor.