There are always rumours floating around about declining party membership numbers within the Southend Conservative associations, with some estimates I’ve heard suggesting that they have less than 100 members. That might be a severe figure, but it’s illustrative of the problem; declining membership, and what is left growing demographically older.
This is, I strongly suspect, a big contributor to the free-fall decline which Conservative fortunes are experiencing in Southend-on-Sea at the moment. It’s far from the only factor — or even the biggest; not listening to residents, for example — but it hampers their ability to campaign.
But it’s something else when they seem to be drafting in election candidates from outside the borough. Not only that, but failed former-councillors from neighbouring authorities.
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.