Kursaal ward’s new UKIP representative is staying put, he says. Despite previous claims, he isn’t going to be moving to Cambridge next month. Cllr Lawrence Davies told me himself, via the pages of the local paper and indeed in response on this humble blog.
And, having decided to stay, he seems to be looking at how being a councillor can work for him.
A few weeks back I blogged about one of UKIP’s five new councillors on Southend Borough Council. Lawrence Davies, representing Kursaal ward, had said in April that he would be moving back to Cambridge this August. This, as I said at the time, was a matter of concern because it would either leave Kursaal with an absentee councillor, or the Southend taxpayer a £14,000 bill for a by-election.
Cllr Davies has, now, responded by way of the local paper, to clarify that he isn’t, in fact, going to be leaving Southend. Which is fair enough. But he also seems to have taken offence at the question ever having been asked in the first place.
UPDATE: He says he’s staying…we’ll see.
When UKIP shocked everyone at the Southend election count last month, by going at one stroke from no representation to five seats on the council, there was a lot of whispering about the newest political grouping. The simple fact is that we (as in, Southend) know very little about the new purple councillors.
James Moyies is well known, of course, and has worked hard over a number of years to win West Shoebury. And from what I heard, Tino Callaghan worked hard in Prittlewell, even if his earlier campaign in the West Leigh by-election did little to inspire.
But the remaining three are pretty much unknowns, and there was of course a lot of wondering as to how long they might last. UKIP has a fairly high casualty rate (in the last EU Parliament, of 13 MEPs 5 were either sacked, had the whip suspended or resigned), and I doubt they have much imagined the responsibilities and work-load required of a local councillor.
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.