For those fans of Conservative oathbreaking in Southend, it really was not a long wait for the first election pledge to go out of the window. In fact, it was literally the first act of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) after he won the leadership of the council.
As predicted, the appointments meeting of Southend Borough Council saw an alliance of UKIP and Conservative councillors oust the Joint Administration of Labour, Independent
Party Group, Liberal Democrats and Southend Independence Group that has been running the council for the last two years.
Thus begins, then, the new Conservative administration, and the reign of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) as the leader of the council. Dark times ahead…
I don’t tend to pay as much attention to Rochford on this blog as perhaps I ought, given that it’s the neighbouring district to Southend and part of it is within the Rochford & Southend East ward.
But this year Rochford is electing all of its councillors at once, owing to the boundaries being redrawn. This happens periodically, to take account of changes in population distribution, and the prevailing trend currently is to move to all-up elections rather than electing in thirds (Not a trend which your blogger is enamoured of -Ed).
So that means that there are thirteen wards electing three councillors each, meaning a total of 39 seats up for grabs.
Last night I attended the launch of the Southend Labour manifesto for the 2016 elections, which was a huge success, and seems to get bigger each year we hold it.
I am enormously proud of not only the manifesto, but the open and democratic way that we write it. It is a product of the ideas contributed by all of the local Labour members, and tempered with the experience and expertise of our Councillors.
Over the last two years this document has formed the core of administration policy pushed by Labour in the Joint Administration. It’s a list of things that all 17 of our candidates are signed up to, for the benefit of the whole of the borough.
So the nominations have closed, and we have the full and final list of the candidates for the Southend-on-Sea local elections.
To my surprise, there are four full slates — from the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens — and UKIP are only one seat short. There are also a few interesting Independent candidates scattered around, and an Indie-on-Indie battle in Shoeburyness, which changes the dynamic there.
As in previous years, Labour candidates are in bold, whilst defending incumbents are in italics. There are five wards this year where the incumbent is not standing for re-election.
As I’ve already mentioned, I was at the full council meeting of Southend Borough Council on Thursday. I was in the public gallery for most of my time there, I’m at pains to point out, and not in the chamber beyond my starring role asking a question of the leader of the council.
Nonetheless, I somehow seemed to still be the centre of attention, with references to my blog being made under a number of items.
The prevailing view coming from the council chamber (And some outside of and subsequent to the meeting -Ed) is that those who are blogging about politics in the town are somehow doing something wrong, that opinions contrary to their own being expressed on the internet should not be permitted.
It will, I’m sure, not surprise readers that this blogger disagrees wholeheartedly.
For the uninitiated, Momentum is what became of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, after he won the leadership. Its purpose is, I have to say, somewhat unclear in that it seems to vary depending on who you ask.
The official line is that it is an entirely innocent campaign group aiming to build on the enthusiasm built up during the leadership campaign. The fear is that it’s a hard left pressure group to serve as enforcers to purge those who disagree with the dear leader from the Labour Party.
As with most things, I imagine the truth varies, somewhere between the two (But then you would say that, wouldn’t you, you wishy-washy moderate? -Ed).
So with the Southend branch of Momentum holding its inaugural meeting last week, as a Corbyn-sceptic but with a general fondness towards the Labour Party, I decided to go along and see what it was all about.
Today, between 7.00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m., the polling stations are open for residents of Rochford ward to cast their vote in the district council by-election. Matt Softly is the Labour candidate in this election, and I would implore voters to go out and ensure he is their councillor when the sun rises tomorrow.
I have known Matt since I moved to Southend, and I know that the people of Rochford could not ask for a better representative to fight their corner. He lives in the ward — not essential, but a point not to be overlooked — and serves on the Parish Council. I know that he will fight for Rochford residents, and having helped on his campaign team I can tell you what an incredible hard worker he is, spending hours talking to residents on their doorsteps about the issues that matter to them, no matter the temperature or weather.
Matt has made ten pledges in this election, to the voters of Rochford, and in his own words they are to
- “Ensure Rochford gets its fair share of resources.
- Be a strong voice for you and your views, issues and concerns.
- Oppose the cuts to neighbourhood policing.
- Work with the community to overcome issues with antisocial behaviour.
- Hold Rochford District and Essex County Councils to account on issues such as housing, street lights being turned off at night and the condition of pavements.
- Work alongside Jerry Gibson and other Councillors to make Rochford a better place to live and work for everyone.
- Hold regular advice surgeries.
- Listen and be accountable to local residents.
- Lobby for investment in Rochford’s Market Square and businesses.
- Oppose new housing plans that do not include proper infrastructure and do not add to the social housing stock for our families.”
You may not agree with all of his politics, but I promise you that there is not a harder working candidate on the ballot paper. If residents elect Matt today, they will be choosing a passionate, dedicated and principled local councillor.
I blogged a little while back on the shenanigans going on down Southchurch way, and regular readers may recall that Rochford & Southend East Conservative Association deselected longstanding Southchurch ward councillor and former mayor David Garston.
Not that they’re admitting that’s what happened, mind.
Tony Cox (Con – West Shoebury) makes a valiant effort toeing the party line on his blog, saying:
“On the contary to what has been published on the local blogssphere, David has moved to Leigh and decided to fight a seat in the West of the town.“
I’m absolutely not suggesting that Tony is telling porkies; I am sure that David has moved to Leigh, and has decided to fight Prittlewell. But the fact remains that he has done so on account of his having been deselected in Southchurch.
And my little birds report that Southchurch residents are less than impressed.