Well, this is a point of interest.
Whilst picking over the statement of nominated candidates for Rochford District, a familiar name jumped out at me. With the ward boundaries having been withdrawn, the district next door to Southend is electing all of its councillors at once.
And one of those on the ballot paper as a Conservative candidate is Ann Holland. And yes, that is the same Cllr Ann Holland who currently represents Southchurch on Southend Borough Council and is the deputy leader of the Conservative Group.
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.
Meet the candidates…
Well done to Matt Softly, who will be an excellent representative for the people of Rochford ward. And well done to the fantastic campaigners of Rochford and Southend Labour Parties, a mere handful of whom pictured above.
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 not that long ago about the impending by-election in Rochford District, brought on by the sad death of Conservative councillor Gill Lucas-Gill. The date for that by-election has now been set for 26th November.
The Labour candidate at this by-election will be Matt Softly.
I’ve known Matt pretty much since I moved to Southend, where he was the secretary of the party’s Local Campaign Forum. He now lives in Rochford ward, where he serves on Rochford Parish Council, which in my view makes him the ideal candidate for this by-election. Having served in the dim and distant past as a parish councillor myself, I know how it connects you to the very heart of a community’s concerns.
There is a campaign to come, albeit a brief one, but I am confident in stating that Matt would be the best councillor that the people of Rochford could ask for.
News reached your blogger this weekend of the sad death of Gillian Lucas-Gill, a councillor on Rochford District Council.
Now, I’m not very intimately involved in the politics of Rochford District (Though I am not without my Rochford-based little birds -Ed), so I wasn’t familiar with Cllr Lucas-Gill. My general belief, though, is that the vast majority of elected councillors give their time and their effort out of a sense of public duty. I didn’t, as I say, know Cllr Lucas-Gill, but I am saddened at her death and thankful for her service.
This does, though, mean there will be a by-election in Rochford ward for Rochford District Council (Keep up… -Ed) in the coming months. As far as I know, no date has been set for the poll, and whoever wins will only serve until all seats are up for re-election in May due to boundary changes.
Nevertheless, the by-election will serve as a useful political barometer, in advance of the main event next year. More details as I receive them.
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.