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The Rumour Mill: Anne Chalk WILL stand in Shoeburyness in 2016


the rumour mill

File this one under “unconfirmed” and “liable to change”, but my little birds sing to me songs of a former Independent Party Group councillor for Shoeburyness, who plans to stand for election next May against sitting Independent Party Group councillor Mike Assenheim.

It doesn’t take a great deal of sleuthing to realise that this is none other than Anne Chalk, who lost to Tory Roger Hadley in May. Finding strife in the Independent Party Group these days is no great achievement, but Anne was never that keen on the leadership of Cllrs Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) and Ron Woodley (IND – Thorpe), not indeed her ward colleague Cllr Assenheim.

I don’t know what banner she will stand under, but I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be under that of the Independent Party Group. If she does indeed follow through her threat, I foresee more squabbles about who is the “official” Independent candidate for Shoeburyness.

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How I (accidentally) kept Cllr Terry in the Southend Council cabinet


martin terry

Regular readers may recall a few weeks back that I reported a tip from one of my little birds that Cllr Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) had left his cabinet role as portfolio holder for Public Protection, Waste & Transport.

Attentive reasons may have noted that, in fact, Cllr Terry remains in his post. So what happened? Was my source wrong?

Well now I can tell you all the story…

Read on…

Cinemas in Southend


southend odeon

My apologies to anyone who, flicking through the Southend Echo this morning, and came across the “Big Coversation” section. Yep, my ugly mug front and centre.

The issue was cinemas, and whether there is demand and room for a second cinema in Southend (I was also asked about Basildon, but not really knowing the town or using its cinema I declined to comment). What I did say, for those not blessed (Cursed -Ed) with my smiling face in their morning paper, is as follows:

My fiancee and I go to the cinema a lot. I think a second cinema in Southend is a great idea because it would be competition for the Odeon.

I have had issues with it not showing films I want to see, for example The Dallas Buyers Club. That was an Oscar-nominated film but wasn’t showing in Southend. I certainly think there’s room for competition.

I’m slightly concerned for the location, as it’s a built up area and I’m not sure there is room for a sizable cinema. Somewhere out of town would be better placed for it with a bigger cinema and less chance of it putting the Odeon out of business.

I haven’t been misquoted, but I do want to make a couple of clarifying points.

Read on…

Southend’s Victoria Gateway, and the “Shared Space”


I pass the Victoria Gateway “shared space” twice a day every weekday, on my way to the train station in the morning, and on my way home in the evening. For those who aren’t familiar, the stretch of road passing Southend Victoria station is on the same level as the pavement and very similarly paved. Not identically, but certainly making it more of a challenge to differentiate.

The obvious flaws in this design are, as I say, obvious; but essentially there is a reason why pedestrians and traffic are usually kept separate.

I wasn’t, then, surprised at the news of the young schoolboy hit by a bus on the shared space earlier this week. I do not know his status, but my heart goes out to him and his family. It is, without any doubt, a horrible tragedy to befall anyone, and having seen the speed at which buses come round that corner, I can unfortuantely picture just how such an accident could happen.

Unfortunately for those who would like to see it torn up and replaced with something adhering a little more to common sense, it cost an absolute bomb. So in these austere that is not likely to happen, however much sense I agree it might make.

That isn’t to say that some measures cannot be taken to improve the safety of this corner. Perhaps instituting a lower speed limit, or some way of demarcating the “shared” part. I don’t know, but it needs to be looked into.

I do know that the shared space was a poor idea when it was implemented, and time has not improved it.

What a Cory-motion


cory

Blimey, I’ve never known so much fuss over a waste collection contract.

(And, for anyone who has been following my blog from the early days, and who remembers that one of my first forays into local politics was over changes to the, err, waste collection contract in Wokingham — yes, I appreciate the irony)

When Mark Flewitt made an opportunistic attack on the failure of current waste collection providers Cory Environmental to make the shortlist for the new procurement contract, it was pretty much par for the course, right down to the mangled metaphors. But, it turns out, that he isn’t the only one.

Read on…

Interzone #253 (Jul/Aug) – A Review


interzone #253LonCon3 (the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention) finished at the start of this week. I mention this partly out of massive jealousy of anyone and everyone who was able to attend, but also because it seems to have gotten a good amount of coverage in the mainstream press.

There is also a regular part of David Lanford’s Ansible Link column entitled “How others see us”. Here, David cherry picks recent press articles about the SF genre and world.

Now, it might be a coincidence (It is a coincidence – Ed) but that section doesn’t appear in this issue. Perhaps — just perhaps — science-fiction as a genre is starting to receive more of the mainstream acceptance that it deserves.

If it is, then we can only hope that this will extend to such organs of excellence as the short story magazines providing the lifeblood of fresh and exciting SF. Which neatly leads my into my review of the latest issue of Interzone.
(more…)

Heresy of the Week – Guardians of the Galaxy was basically Farscape


GotG

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

“Guardians of the Galaxy has already cemented itself as one of the films of the year, and stands out amongst Marvel Studios already crowded film-universe for its sparkling wit and sense of fun. But if you look at it with a critical eye, it is basically a big-screen version of Farscape.”

Read on…

And we’re off!


southend civic centre

With the local elections this year being later than most due to the European Parliament elections (the vote usually occurs on the first Thursday in May), today has seen the publishing by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council of the notice of election. This marks the “official” start of the election campaign — I say official, but all parties have been laying the groundwork for months. Would-be candidates have now 10 days to get their nomination papers in — with the signatures of 10 nominators living in the ward and on the electoral roll — by 24th April.

There are eighteen seats up for election — one in each of the seventeen wards in the borough, and an extra in Westborough which Independent Martin Terry has vacated in his flight to Thorpe — of which 11 are Tory-held, 5 by the Lib Dems, 1 Labour and 1 Independent.

Most local political commentators — both enthusiastic amateurs like myself, and those sitting on the council — are expecting upheaval after this election. The Conservative majority stands at 1 presently, and they are almost certain to lose a number of seats on May 22nd. What this means for post-election Southend will depend on how the dice ultimately fall, and what alliances can be made as a result.

So there is a lot to play for; expect a lively campaign.

38 days to go.

Out and About in Kursaal Ward


image

So after nearly two months in Southend, I finally ran out of excuses and found myself today canvassing with Southend Labour Party.

It rained — of course it did — but that didn’t stop us — myself, Councillors Ware-Lane and Jones, and Labour candidate for 2014 Chas Willis —  knocking on doors up and down the marginal Kursaal ward. Not how many people would choose to spend their Saturday mornings, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve done any sort of campaigning.

As I said before, after leaving Wokingham I drifted a bit from local politics, but I’m determined to get stuck back in here.

And Kursaal was a good place to start. Over the course of a couple of hours we spoke to residents about all manner of issues — with lack of parking a big issue. The parking in Southend is a huge problem, particularly given that it’s a hybrid of commuter and tourist town.

The other issue was around Christchurch Park. Residents were concerned that the shortage of children’s play equipment had led to it becoming a focal point for anti-social behaviour even down to drug dealing and use on a residential street.

The fact that the area has Labour representatives means that we can take some action immediately. But each additional councillor gives more power to deliver changes for the better more quickly; so there is real and tangible importance to each vote cast next May.