southend airport

On Jon Fuller, and the Green Party in Southend

jon fuller

The Green Party in Southend are, to be honest, a bit of an odd bunch.

I know, pots and kettles. But this is a blog which I’ve spent a good long time trying to get right. See, there’s an election coming up (You may have heard something about it… -Ed), and as I have repeatedly stated, my aim with the political wing of this blog is to shine a light on what those who will be on the ballot paper are actually offering.

This is because there are some groups who actively benefit from a lack of awareness of what they want. UKIP, for instance. Their gains in May came, I would say, from a general lack of awareness of their policies, beyond the obvious, and of their people. Since then I like to think I have shed a light on who the purple-and-yellow band in Southend actually are. I leave readers to make their own judgements based on that information.

The same general ignorance is true, I would say, of the Green Party. They are fielding candidates in both Southend constituencies: Simon Cross in Rochford & Southend East, and Jon Fuller in Southend West. I will turn my beacon of scrutiny on Simon in good time (for now, this provides an interesting view), but I want first to focus on Mr Fuller.

Jon Fuller is chiefly an environmental campaigner, so far as I can tell. He is heavily involved with South East Essex Friends of the Earth, and a vocal voice against Southend Airport. That seems, though, only tangentially related to his standing for election.

Read on…

Is Southend at risk from Ebola epidemic? In a word, no

london southend airport

Ebola is big news at the moment, and there are a lot of people worried about the potential of the disease to jump from West Africa to this country. So far I see little evidence of it doing so — there is a world of difference between the standards of public health in West Africa, and the proud¬†pinnacle¬†of our NHS.

However, not even Southend is immune to the fear. Some, as I say, is legitimate. Much should be assuaged with facts, figures and reason.

Ebola even featured at the full council meeting of Southend Borough Council last week, in a question asked by Conservative frontbencher Cllr Lesley Salter. As I would imagine most residents do not watch the full council meetings (No, just nutters like you -Ed), I will produce the exchange between Cllr Salter, and Labour group leader Cllr Ian Gilbert, below.

Cllr Salter began by asking:

In the light of the global escalation of the Ebola crisis, and with an international airport on our doorstep, would the portfolio holder responsible for public health let us know what training the airport staff have been given, and whether checks are being, or going to be, made on passengers arriving there.

Cllr Gilbert’s response followed:

Staff from Southend airport recently participated in a multi-agency Essex-wide training event on Ebola. Prior to this, the airport team had put on public display the public health information provided to central government, on awareness of the Ebola virus, its symptoms, and the appropriate action to take should you feel that you may have been exposed. The airport had also briefed its staff, and liased with its airport partners in respect of aircraft cleaning protocols and has subsequently reviewed its actions in line with central government advice, and other airport operators’ actions.

Enhanced screening for Ebola has already commenced at Heathrow and Gatwick, where most affected flights from the region arrive. Screening for Ebola is also due to commence at the Eurostar terminal. The decision to further extend screening to other UK ports is a UK matter. The government are continuing looking at what further action is needed, based on latest medical advice.

Cllr Salter then asked a supplementary question:

In your answer you said that they’ve put on public display the public health information provided. Would the portfolio holder consider providing our residents with basic guidance on what they should do if they feel at risk of exposure and are unwell themselves, or concerned about friends and family? Maybe simple things like handwashing. I was thinking along the lines of letting them know that they should not go directly to the GP or out-of-hours service, or to A&E, but stay at home and phone them for advice first.

To which Cllr Gilbert responded:

I think it’s very important that we actually follow the advice from the government on this. I think that if each council was drawing up its own policy, we may well end up with more confusion and perhaps mistakes being made. But I will take all the points that she raised back and discuss them with our Director of Public Health to see what further can be done.

I, personally, think that Cllr Gilbert is exactly right, and whilst I wouldn’t want to suggest that Cllr Salter shouldn’t have asked the question (Praise where it’s due, she actually seemed to be on her game, whereas her party colleagues looked like a gaggle of shambling corpses, still shell-shocked to be out of power -Ed), her suggested advice is a little on the patronising side, and she ignores one key fact.

This I want to highlight above all else, because even more than statistics on the spread of the disease, even more than the strength of British public health, this should reassure any Southender worried about Ebola. Yes, our town has an international airport, but:

No flights at all land at Southend Airport from the affected parts of West Africa!