Introducing the new make-up of the Cabinet on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council:
- Cllr Ron Woodley (IND – Thorpe) — Leader of the Council
- Cllr Ian Gilbert (LAB – Victoria) — Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Community and Organisational Development
- Cllr Graham Longley (LD – Blenheim Park) — Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development
- Cllr Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) — Executive Councillor for Public Protection, Waste and Transport
Cllr David Norman (LAB – Victoria) — Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Regulatory Control
- Cllr Anne Jones (LAB – Kursaal) — Executive Councillor for Children and Learning
- Cllr James Moyies (SIG – West Shoebury) — Executive Councillor for Health and Adult Social Care
That makes 3 Labour councillors, 2 Independent councillors, 1 Liberal Democrat councillor, and 1 Southend Independence Group councillor.
I’ll leave it up to readers to decide who they think is driving this administration’s agenda…
In a move which will surprise absolutely nobody, veteran Labour councillor David Norman has been re-selected by local Labour Party members to contest Victoria ward in the 2015 local elections.
I say that it will surprise nobody, because David is one of the best orators in the chamber, and has achieved more than almost any other councillor in the last year of his term. David is presently a member of the cabinet, with responsibility for Adult Social Care, Health & Housing. In that role he has overseen the building of the first council housing in Southend since the 1980s, as well as a review of the previous Tory administration’s decision to close care homes.
Regardless of your political position, David has been an unambiguous force for good, and a benefit to the town of Southend-on-Sea.
“I have been privileged to have represented the people of Victoria for the past 14 years and have always sought to ensure that their views are heard in the Council Chamber. I have also helped many hundreds of residents with their problems. I would welcome the opportunity to serve for a further term.“
Until very recently David was my local councillor. I have never found him to be anything but principled, hard-working and dedicated. He has served his residents diligently for fourteen years, and I hope that they will give him the chance to do so for four more.
There have been a glut of important meetings at Southend Council this week, with the three scrutiny committees preceding last night’s full council. It provides plenty of material for a local politics blogger to pick over, but sadly it does leave me on the back foot a little, juggling it with a full-time job and something approximating a life.
So with that in mind, come back in time with me to the People Scrutiny Committee meeting from Tuesday 15th June, to witness some bizarre statements from Tory members of the council.
Only last night I was talking to a member of the Labour Party in Southend about housing in the borough. Fourteen years of Conservative rule saw not a single new council house built — and all the while the housing crisis grew worse. Since the Thatcher government sold off social housing stock on mass and foolishly failed to invest the proceeds in new housing to replace what was lost.
I’m not going to pretend that the new social housing secured by Labour after only a few weeks in power in Southend well since the problem alone, but I remain convinced that it signals a chance in attitude. Under the new joint administration, steered by Cllrs Ian Gilbert and David Norman, Southend Borough Council is taking housing provision seriously.
And this is extending to the private sector too. The announcement of a plan by developers Randall Watts to build 27 houses on a disused brownfield site — 100% of which to be affordable, housing association homes.
The plan goes before the Development Control (“Planning”) Committee tomorrow, so it’s not a done deal. But it is a good sign, there’s no escaping that. The solution has to be a combination of outgoing of public and private, and the public has been neglected for too long. The fact, though, that the private sector too is recognising the need for homes that people can afford to live in.
In May, Labour promised we would build housing. In July those promises are already being delivered.
It has been a point of some personal annoyance with myself, that the press coverage of Southend Borough Council’s joint administration — the first non-Conservative administration in the town for fourteen years has been dominated thusfar by Martin Terry’s non-announcements. Now, though, we have one of the first hard policy announcements: the building of the first new housing in the borough in some twenty years.
This was something that Labour campaigned heavily on, and in opposition Victoria’s Cllr David Norman led a review of potential sites for housebuilding. David is, of course, now the portfolio holder for Adult Social Care & Housing, and it is entirely because of the hard work that he put in that the administration can move so quickly on this.
Well, it’s done.
The first meeting of the new council has happened, and the vote for leader has been cast. Congratulations to the new leader of Southend Borough Council, Councillor Ron Woodley.
The actual votes were as follows:
Cllr Woodley (IND) 31
Cllr Lamb (CON) – 18
Absence – 1
Abstention – 1
The abstention was the mayor, and the absence was Labour’s Cllr Royston, who is still recovering from an operation. All five UKIP councillors backed Cllr Woodley, which is mildly surprising. They aren’t a part of the joint administration, and I had wondered if James Moyies would be a little bitter at the failure of his pact with the Independent Party Group. It’s actually a bit unfair to blame that on the Indies — it actually comes down to lacking the numbers.
But the result means that the joint administration has taken power, and there is a now a whole new executive team in place.