On Thursday evening, I was at the full council meeting of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to ask a question of the leader of the council.
This is actually quite a fun little feature. Any member of the public can ask a question to any member of the cabinet at any full council meeting. All you have to do is email it to email@example.com clearly marked as question to the executive. You get to go along and ask it yourself.
Anyway, I went along on Thursday, and asked a question to Cllr Ron Woodley (IND – Thorpe).
“In a letter to his constituents, the MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, has attacked the administration currently running the council as giving “factional leadership” and “poor direction of policy”. Given that Southend has suffered millions of pounds of cuts at the hands of Sir David’s government, and surprisingly has not benefited from the extra money doled out from the Treasury, united leadership for the town is undeniably vital.
“In light of this, could the leader of the council tell me what invitations he has made to Sir David and James Duddridge since he became the leader of the council, and what the response of Southend’s Conservative MPs has been to these open offers of co-operation?“
Cllr Woodley’s answer:
“Our Joint Administration has always made decisions based on what we believe and feel is best for the residents of the town. We constantly have to deal with negative comments from Conservative councillors as well as our two Conservative MPs. These comments do not offer us a viable alternative solution, but openly criticise to whoever wants to listen, and more often than not are not based on actual fact.
“However, the Joint Administration has run the Council effectively and efficiently since it took over in June 2014. It has continued to provide the best possible service to the residents of the town, notwithstanding the considerable cuts coming to us from central government. The Joint Administration has listened to the people of Southend, has been united in its objectives and given clear direction. It is very disappointing that our two local MPs have not supported the Council in its endeavours.
“I have made repeated efforts to work with our MPs for the good of the town, but they continue to refuse to speak to me.“
If you’re a real glutton for punishment, then you can watch me ask it on the council’s fancy webcast system.