I can’t actually remember the first time I met Gray Sergeant. It would have been sometime soon after I moved to Southend, though, when he was hard at work fighting an election in St Luke’s, which he was desperately unfortunate not to win.
St Luke’s loss looks set to become Milton’s gain, though, as this year Gray is running to be the next councillor in the ward where I live.
Over my involvement with Southend Labour Party, I have worked alongside Gray and gotten to know him. In my opinion, he embodies the very best of our local politics.
Having been out on the doorstep with him, I can attest to his unfailing dedication and appetite for the hard work of being a local councillor. He hasn’t shied from the unglamorous jobs dealing with fly tipping, dog mess, and the chronic lack of parking in the town centre.
But more important for me, Gray knows that politics is not black and white. It is important that councillors work together, for the good of the communities they represent. I think that the two Labour councillors Milton already has are prime examples of the sort of resident-first representation which is so effective. I know that Gray will be an excellent addition to that team, adding the perspective of young people in the town centre to an already broad worldview.
On May 7th I will be placing a cross next to Gray Sergeant’s name. If you live in Milton ward, I urge you to do the same.
So on Thursday night the Castle Dent contingent headed down the road to the St Mark’s Centre, on Princes Street, to hear the candidates for Milton ward at the local council elections set out their stalls.
In all the various places I’ve lived, this is the first time I’ve attended an election debate where I can actually vote for the participants (Not technically true: there was a hustings for the Police & Crime Commissioner elections, but given the glorified farce that they turned out to be, they don’t really count -Ed). So it was probably more exciting for me than basically anyone else.
As a little experiment, I decided I’d try and record the hustings themselves. Armed with a cheap dictaphone, I rocked up, asked permission, and set it recording. The results you can hear for yourself, but I’m pretty impressed with them.
But this blog is about the hustings themselves, not my audio-recording expertise (Pah! -Ed), so how did each of the candidates do.
On Saturday 6th December, I was not the only Labour candidate selected to fight the 2015 local elections. Gray Sergeant was selected by party members in Milton to fight Labour’s number one target seat, and complete the revolution started by Julian Ware-Lane in 2012.
As a new resident of Milton ward, I am delighted with the choice of Labour Party members. (For those who are curious, I moved into Milton the day after the selection, hence I’m not describing it as ‘my choice’.) Gray did excellent work this year in St Luke’s ward, and was unlucky to come second to an invisible, voiceless Independent
Party Group candidate.
He will, I am sure, do far better in Milton.
Jonathan Garston, as I have pointed out, is not a good councillor. He is near-enough invisible, something which has been thrown into stark contrast by the active, vibrant work of Julian Ware-Lane and Cheryl Nevin, the ward’s two Labour councillors.
Speaking of his selection and the challenges before him, Gray said,
“It’s an honour to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Milton. I was born in Southend and have grown up here. I want to make my hometown a better place to live and work and somewhere people want to visit. Milton is a vibrant part of the town but also an area with many inequalities which I hope to address. I will work hard to deal with the local issues residents raise with me on the doorstep.“
Gray will make an excellent councillor for Milton, I am sure of it and come May 7th he will have my vote. And if you want effective local representation for a better place to live and work, then you should give him yours.
Earlier today I blogged about the hypocrisies and contradictions of Southend’s Independent
Party Group, and in particular their candidate in St Luke’s, Caroline Endersby.
It seems that the Independents are getting worried that their inactive, invisible candidate may not be striking quite the chord they had hoped with the electorate. They have resorted, now, to lies and to misleading voters. Amongst others, they claim that Labour finished 3rd in 2012, when in fact our candidate finished 2nd, and that Labour cannot win in St Luke’s.
Gray Sergeant, Labour’s candidate in St Luke’s at this election, has issued a response.