This is becoming a habit, Mark.
Last week, the Echo printed an article fronted by Tory Cllr Mark Flewitt, complaining that the Joint Administration was supposedly considering closing down sheltered accommodation across Southend.
Regular readers of this blog will know that this isn’t a particularly unfamiliar occurrence. An (Alleged -Ed) serial-leaker and (Somewhat more concrete -Ed) serial-scaremongerer, Mark has cried wolf a number of times, and has yet to be proven correct.
Still, I’m sure he’ll find a campaign hook eventually. Not this time, though.
So despite my call a few weeks ago, the Southend Conservative group haven’t sacked Cllr Mark Flewitt. Which is a shame, but perhaps I shouldn’t be looking for moral backbone from this group of Tories.
So Cllr Flewitt is still about, still a senior figure on their frontbench, and still — naturally — trying to pass off utter gibberish as a meaningful political contribution.
His latest blog, mercifully, is short. And appears to be written in something rather closer to English than some of his other offerings. Unfortunately, that only makes it easier to notice that one of the central points he makes is, err, demonstrably false.
Regular readers will have seen before my disagreements with Southend Tory councillor Mark Flewitt. They will know that I don’t rate him as a councillor, and have called him to task before for poor politicking, for ham-fisted attacks, and for general poor conduct.
This, today, is not that. This is something of another order, a different league.
A letter has come into my possession, written by Councillor Flewitt, to residents of sheltered accommodation in his ward of St Laurence. This letter makes claims that the council will not be undertaking any maintenance or repairs on their property, whilst a review of sheltered accommodation is undertaken.
Which would be a big concern for residents. Except it isn’t true.
Back when it was first announced that Cory Environmental had not been short-listed for the new waste collection contract, senior Conservatives in Southend (the few of them who are left) unexpectedly went to bat for the private company.
It was a travesty! they cried. It would lead to the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together!
Or, more specifically, that under the new provider waste would only be collected once every two weeks rather than weekly, as it is presently. This was the great bogeyman which, according to the blue corner, Southend had brought on itself by daring to vote for anyone but the Conservatives.
It’s not true, of course. There are no plans under the joint administration to change to a fortnightly schedule, nor have there ever been.
St Laurence ward’s Cllr Mark Flewitt is an enthusiastic blogger, I’ll give him that. Trouble is…well, he’s not terribly good at it.
(Not to overuse the Mandy Rice-Davies quote, but you would say that, wouldn’t you? -Ed)
When it is deciperhable without prior knowledge what exactly he is actually talking about, he meanders around from subject to subject without much regard for his audience’s ability to keep up
(Again, you can talk -Ed)
His latest blog, for example, starts off claiming that Labour activists have been instructed not to talk about the economy on the doorstep. For the record, we haven’t: I had many such conversations at the weekend with Blenheim Park residents, particularly about how George Osborne’s recovery for the few has seen their wages shrink and their living costs rise.
He then goes on to give his thoughts on the draft local budget for Southend Borough Council. Credit to him, Mark is the first opposition councillor to actually venture an opinion on the budget, but his approach is a little scattergun.
I feel like I owe Cllr Garston an apology for the slating I gave his leaflet last week. It’s not that what I said was untrue — it wasn’t; the leaflet was pretty terrible — but that a week later he has been outdone by one of his party colleagues.
Yes, Cllr Mark Flewitt has put out a new leaflet, and like his blog it lurches from subject to subject without making a great deal of sense along the way.
Was he drunk? Has he gone mad? Is he a UKIP plant? Has he, perhaps, been hacked and this is a heinous act of sabotage? Or does he perhaps actually believe that this is actually a good example of a local politician’s leaflet?
Blimey, I’ve never known so much fuss over a waste collection contract.
(And, for anyone who has been following my blog from the early days, and who remembers that one of my first forays into local politics was over changes to the, err, waste collection contract in Wokingham — yes, I appreciate the irony)
When Mark Flewitt made an opportunistic attack on the failure of current waste collection providers Cory Environmental to make the shortlist for the new procurement contract, it was pretty much par for the course, right down to the mangled metaphors. But, it turns out, that he isn’t the only one.
Anyone who reads the blog of Southend Tory councillor Mark Flewitt (just me then?) may have noticed that he has started adding the following legend to his blogs:
“NO COMMENTS WILL BE ANSWERED AS TO THIS ITEM“*
Now, there are many things that can (and will) be said of it, but suffice it to say that I think this is a bizarre statement to make, belying Mark’s commitment to a fully democractic politics and speaking to an over-sensitive nature on the part of someone who aspires to be one of the major political actors of a British town.
UPDATE: Mark Flewitt has deleted the blog post in question. One could infer from that that Cllr Jones has reconsidered his retirement. Or it could be another instalment of the saga of Cllr Flewitt. Who can say?
That the Conservative Party in Southend is in decline is hardly a secret. In fact, decline is a bit of an understatement; in a few short years they have gone from the unassailably dominant party of local government to an opposition in complete disarray. It hasn’t stopped a few “leading figures” embarrassing themselves blatantly jockeying for position to take the leadership, but it’s not really fooling anyone.
Nor is it fooling their own councillors, apparently; leading the exodus, St Laurence councillor Adam Jones has announced that he won’t be standing for re-election next May.