I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised, on the whole, with how the Southend Independence Group have risen to the challenge of being a party of serious local government, rather than a purple tied brigade geared at causing and effecting outrage. Even if I am disappointed that they didn’t use my suggested name of NewKIP.
Cllr Moyies, in particular, seems to have grasped that running a unitary council isn’t quite the easy ride he may have anticipated. James is someone I have respected since I first met him, even if our politics differ radically on a number of key points. He has adapted well to the challenging brief of Health & Adult Social Care.
There is, though, a question mark remaining still over the political loyalties of the Southend Independence Group councillor for Kursaal ward.
In the election campaign, I speculated rather freely on whether James Moyies and the other outcasts from Southend UKIP would go over to the Independent
Party Group. After all, Moyies was expelled and the others roundly condemned by the Dear Leader Farage.
But despite members of Clan Moyies being amongst the Independent
Party Group’s candidates at the local elections just gone, that isn’t how things have panned out. No, flush with UKIP-proper’s abject failure in Southend (Third in both constituencies, and no gains on the council -Ed) Moyies et al have decided to start their own party grouping in the council chamber.
So farewell Southend UKIP; enter New-KIP.
Anyone tuning into the Southend Borough Council budget meeting might notice the absence of Cllr Lawrence Davies, the UKIP councillor representing Kursaal. If any voters in Kursaal ward are wondering why their councillor isn’t at one of the two most important council meetings of the year…
…my little birds report that Cllr Davies is on a weeks-long holiday in South America. With several thousand pounds a year of allowances out of your taxes.
Money well spent?
I really don’t like blogging so much or so frequently on the same subject. It can feel, at times, like flogging a dead horse.
But with Southend UKIP a dead horse might be about the best metaphor.
In a short week, UKIP have gone from an awakening force in Southend to a shambolic joke. Five councillors were elected in May, to the general surprise of those political watchers of the town.
Now, eight months later, the UKIP Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council effectively doesn’t exist.
In all the excitement of a kipper-on-kipper conflict in Southend, it’s easy to overlook that Southend UKIP’s answer to Robert E. Lee, parliamentary candidate Floyd Waterworth, wasn’t the only UKIP councillor to miss a key vote at the recent council meeting.
The change from cabinet to committee system, a UKIP local election pledge, was lost by two votes. And missing were UKIP’s Cllr Waterworth, and councillor for Kursaal ward Lawrence Davies.
Lord knows what Waterworth’s reason for missing the meeting was — though judging from his letters in the Echo, he seems to have no problem breaking promises to voters — but I do have some idea of where Davies was.
I am always loathe to rely solely on rumour, but I do not rule out reporting it especially when I hear the same thing from different sources. Here, my little birds tell me that Cllr Davies was unable to attend the full council meeting and honour his election promises because…he was on holiday.
I wonder if Kursaal residents feel particularly well-served by a UKIP councillor who can’t even attend meetings to represent them?
In the run up to the elections in May, I warned that UKIP did not make for good representatives. In the European Parliament, their attendance has been nothing short of dreadful. They consistently rank amongst the worst absentees, whilst taking home all the same pay and claiming all the same expenses as those MEPs who do the job.
It does not surprise me therefore, and should not surprise anyone who pays attention to Southend local politics, that at last night’s full council meeting in Southend two fifths of the UKIP group were absent.
What pushes this even further into the realms of absurdity, is that the absence of those kippers meant that a policy that they supported — changing the council from a cabinet system to a committee system — failed.
Reaching a point, you have to wonder what certain people are thinking, exactly.
Of the new crop of UKIP councillors gifted upon Southend by a poor turnout in May, three of them are still pretty much complete unknowns to me. Though second-hand reports of Cllr Waterworth’s antagonistic conduct has reached my ears, Cllrs Callaghan and Burling are still inflatable question marks in my mind’s eye.
Cllr Moyies, my esteemed and victorious opponent in West Shoebury in May, is the UKIP councillor I have heard the most of. He chairs the People Scrutiny Committee, and has spoken the most out of the five in any public forum. I’m sure I will have plenty more to say about Cllr Moyies as his term continues, but so far he has not be the ‘KIPper about whom I have blogged most.
No, that honour belongs to Cllr Lawrence Davies, who only last week was the subject of a blog on his apparent lack of judgement. This time, though, the poor judgement is rather more than “apparent”.
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.