So the Southend Tories have done a George W. Bush and declared mission accomplished in their long and bitter war against the closure of toilets. They can now presumably go back to their long and bitter struggle to close Priory House care home.
On a serious note, I was never particularly pleased with the proposal to close public toilets, its presence marring what I think is generally a pretty good budget, Southend’s £11 million Tory cut considered. I spoke out against it in the Labour group meeting, and hoped that it wouldn’t be part of the final passed budget.
I’ve said before that the Conservatives in Southend are in a position where their best talent is outside the chamber. And before their heads get to swollen with compliments, neither Nigel Holdcroft or Tony Cox were exactly blogging powerhouses through December.
Tony has yet to make his triumphant return to the blogging scene (though with the report on the seawall review I don’t anticipate having to wait much longer), but yesterday saw Nigel put finger to keyboard again, with some interesting results.
I disagree with Nigel, the once (and future? -Ed) leader of the Tories in Southend on a great, great many things, but I cannot deny that he is a cool performer, both in the chamber and when it comes to his tone online. Improved, no end, I would say by the adoption of my suggestion that he uses paragraph breaks.
The blog I want to talk about particularly centres around an interesting anecdote about one of the council’s new UKIP contingent…
When I blogged earlier this year about James Duddridge’s constituency surgery, exclusively for Halifax customers, I was clear that in my view it wasn’t malicious, simply a fairly sizeable lapse in judgement.
Much of this falls into the “Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?” camp. True, I am a Labour activist. True, I am not a fan of Mr Duddridge. And true, I am very much hoping to see him replaced by Ian Gilbert next May. But read on, if you will, as I unfold the pages of another example of the question marks hovering over James Duddridge’s judgement.
It has been, now, over a week since the fun and games of Southend Borough Council’s budget meeting, and a lot of the focus — my own included — has been on Nigel Holdcroft’s accusations of horse-trading against, err, his own administration, and Ron Woodley’s histrionics at his inclusion in the ambit of such horse-trading.
So I’m afraid that I’ve neglected to look at the actual votes cast on the borough’s budget for 2014/15. That is something I shall attempt, in part, to remedy now. It is, I note, difficult because at time of press the council had released no minutes for the meeting.
But from my own observations, and the observations of other bloggers covering Southend local politics, one thing has become apparent: in at least two wards, Independent Party Group councillors cancelled each other out.
My good friend Julian Ware-Lane blogged last week that Southend’s Conservatives had selected their leader and deputy for when current leader Nigel Holdcroft steps down at the elections in May.
There aren’t any surprises therein — except that I haven’t seen anything yet on the matter from those few Conservative councillors who actively blog — with current deputy John Lamb to replace Holdcroft, and Southchurch Councillor Anne Holland as the new deputy.
The significance really depends on the state of affairs after May. If the Conservatives cling on to control — they won’t hold their majority, but depending on which way the wind blows the Independents or Lib Dems may prop up a Tory administration — then this will be the new leader and deputy of Southend Borough Council.
Which makes it all the more interesting that, as Julian pointed out, Cllr Holland doesn’t actually live in the Borough of Southend.