Unconfirmed as yet, but my little birds are whispering to me that Southend’s Cllr Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) has left his cabinet post of portfolio holder for Public Protection, Waste & Transport, to be replaced by Cllr Mike Assenheim (IND – Shoeburyness).
I’ve said before that one thing that unifies Southend Independent
Party Group is an inability to play well with others. Represented in their number is former Labour candidates, former Lib Dem candidates, and until very recently a former Tory.
The news that Cllr Steve Aylen has left the Independent
Party Group after a falling out with Ron Woodley is scarcely news. Conservative blogger Cllr Mark Flewitt already covered it in his stream-of-consciousness style, and the Southend Echo in something a little closer to English.
I don’t want to get too deep into Cllr Aylen’s accusations (Putting it simply, I have heard that he was rather brusque to an officer, but that Cllr Woodley threatened him in open committee -Ed), but whilst I don’t agree with Steve on a great deal of subjects — not least culling deer in Belfairs Wood — I have always found him pleasant to deal with and entertaining in the council chamber.
But one of the points Cllr Aylen made when quitting the Independent Party Group was how much like a political party it had become. Hardly a surprise to most of us, but strenuously denied by Messers Woodley and Terry. But given that my little birds this morning report to me that Martin Terry has stepped down as the
leader spokesperson of the Independents, to be replaced by Cllr Mike Assenheim, this blogger wonders how much longer the fallacy can continue.
With the election done, and the joint administration secured (Just about -Ed) back in control of the council, we’re starting to settle back into normality in the weird world of Southend politics. Which means, as ever, my little birds have begun again to sing.
One particularly interesting take regards the odd politics of Shoeburyness. Apparently, a certain former Independent
Party Group councillor, licking their wounds, is eyeing up the possibility of a comeback next year. Except, as eagle-eyed readers will already be aware, the councillor up for re-election in Shoeburyness next year is Mike Assenheim of the, err, Independent Party Group.
The bad blood between Anne Chalk and Mike Assenheim is not exactly news, and their divisions may well have helped Roger Hadley back onto the council this time around. But one Independent running against another, especially when there can be no ambiguity in whether they were part of the same grouping, would be a definite escalation.
The 2016 elections are still a way off yet, but these whispers surely serve as reassurance that Southend local politics will continue on in the same bizarre vein as usual.
Whilst everyone — myself included — have been focused on the extraordinary implosion of UKIP in Southend, the Independent
Party Group on the council have quietly been undergoing their own woes.
It’s easy to forget that the switch from cabinet to committee system was the pet issue of the Indies as well/before UKIP. And yet they scarcely did any better when the vote came up at the last council meeting. The Independent councillors in the cabinet either voted for it or abstained (Turkeys? Christmas? -Ed).
And now, the already loose alliance of cliques seems to be fracturing itself.
It is, I suspect, a mark of how far into the realms of political geekery I have slipped, that fair game as Friday evening entertainment is watching recordings of public meetings on YouTube. For those worrying for my sanity, I should point out that my evening has also included a trip to the library, and may yet feature a film or two.
The meeting, though, in question was a public meeting from last week with the Chief Constable of Essex Police Stephen Kavanagh, alongside the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex Nick Alston, and his deputy Lindsay Whitehouse. Thrilling, eh?
I didn’t attend the meeting, but given that a crime and policing is — in my opinion — shaping up to be a big issue in Southend as budgets are cut away to nothing (a subject I mean to return to in future blogs) it is something I am happy to make time for.
The above photo depicts Mike Assenheim, councillor for Shoeburyness and portfolio holder for Regulatory Service, outside Shoeburyness High School alongside former councillor for Shoeburyness Roger Hadley. Nothing innately interesting there, but Mike sits with the Independent Party Group and Roger Hadley a Conservative. And this picture seems to be causing a little trouble.
In the May elections, Roger was beaten rather decisively by Independent Party Group candidate Nick Ward. This was a bit of a shame, not because Roger was a brilliant councillor — he wasn’t — but because his replacement is a competence-vacuum in the shape of a man. Still, Roger was punished by the voters for slavishly following his party line and not listening to Shoeburyness residents. You can’t really argue with that.
But what is interesting here is the reaction of the third Shoeburyness councillor Anne Chalk (Independent) — who seems so embittered of her defeated foe that she is laying into Mike, ostensibly her friend.
Well, it’s done.
The first meeting of the new council has happened, and the vote for leader has been cast. Congratulations to the new leader of Southend Borough Council, Councillor Ron Woodley.
The actual votes were as follows:
Cllr Woodley (IND) 31
Cllr Lamb (CON) – 18
Absence – 1
Abstention – 1
The abstention was the mayor, and the absence was Labour’s Cllr Royston, who is still recovering from an operation. All five UKIP councillors backed Cllr Woodley, which is mildly surprising. They aren’t a part of the joint administration, and I had wondered if James Moyies would be a little bitter at the failure of his pact with the Independent Party Group. It’s actually a bit unfair to blame that on the Indies — it actually comes down to lacking the numbers.
But the result means that the joint administration has taken power, and there is a now a whole new executive team in place.