For those fans of Conservative oathbreaking in Southend, it really was not a long wait for the first election pledge to go out of the window. In fact, it was literally the first act of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) after he won the leadership of the council.
The following outlines the holders of various council roles, decided at the Appointments meeting of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, on 19th May 2016.
With the dust now having settled on the local elections, it seems a timely moment to look back at my ward of Blenheim Park.
The headline here is clear: I didn’t win. Which, yes, is disappointing, after running what I believe was the most active campaign of any of the candidates. But diving beneath the headline figures, there has clearly been an improvement in the Labour vote.
Looking at position alone, and as I said in my concession speech, a move from third place in 2015 to second in 2016 is progress in anybody’s book. When one looks a longer term breakdown, of vote share as well as base position, the picture gets even more cheerful.
Last week I reported on the deal struck between Southend UKIP and Southend Conservatives, which now seems to be common knowledge, including that Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park) would get chair of Development Control Committee.
Now, never minding the horse trading still going on behind closed doors–including the sheer number of Conservative councillors suddenly realising that they have their leader Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) over a barrel and can demand plum jobs for themselves–there seems to be a groundswell of scepticism as to whether Cllr Waterworth is up to what is — in effect — the most senior non-cabinet role on the council.
This morning, BBC Essex are reporting what my little birds have been telling me for the last few days: that Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh), leader of the Conservative Group on Southend Borough Council, has struck a deal with Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park), leader of the UKIP group, to take control of the council.
To say that I’m disappointed at the news is an understatement, but after the elections the Joint Administration was on a knife edge, and Cllr Lamb clearly saw this as his last opportunity to achieve his long-held dream of becoming council leader — and was willing to do almost anything to make it happen.
The magic number on the council is 26. 26 councillors is a majority. The Tories have 24 councillors after the elections. The Joint Administration had 25 councillors (10 Labour, 9 Independent
Party Group, 3 Southend Independence Group, 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 non-aligned -Ed). Thus the two UKIP councillors held the balance of power.
On Thursday 5th May 2016, the people of Blenheim Park did not choose to make me their new councillor. This is, of course, a disappointment. However, it is hard to remain disappointed given the increased numbers of them who chose to put their faith in this Labour candidate.
My share of the vote was up a staggering 7.5% on the election in 2015, putting me into second place, and making Labour the clear alternative to the Conservatives in 2018. In light of this, and the continuing woeful performance of the Conservative government, Blenheim Park should be a likely Labour gain the next time around.
But as well as the result, I am delighted with the campaign. I would guess that of all the candidates I spoke to the most residents, heard the most issues and personal stories, and had the most individual connections. I won’t let those connections fall by the wayside, and in the coming week I will be picking up the bits of casework which residents raised to me.
The campaigning, for a little while at least, will go back in the box, but I sincerely hope that I have more doors to knock in Blenheim Park ahead of me.
Today is election day across Southend, and if you have a vote then I implore you to use it for Labour.
If you live in Blenheim Park ward, then I ask you to use it for me.
Over the last year, I have been speaking to residents, keeping them informed via regular newsletters, and working hard to resolve the local problems and issues that they have raised to me. Whether I am elected or not, I intended to keep doing this — but it would be a lot easier as your councillor.
Working alongside a passionate and committed group of Labour councillors, I would work to deliver the policies outlined in our local manifesto, whilst making sure that the views of Blenheim Park residents were always heard and considered.
I want this ward, and this town, to be a better place to work and live. I believe that we can do this together.
Please vote Matt Dent for Blenheim Park ward, today.
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.
Last night I attended the launch of the Southend Labour manifesto for the 2016 elections, which was a huge success, and seems to get bigger each year we hold it.
I am enormously proud of not only the manifesto, but the open and democratic way that we write it. It is a product of the ideas contributed by all of the local Labour members, and tempered with the experience and expertise of our Councillors.
Over the last two years this document has formed the core of administration policy pushed by Labour in the Joint Administration. It’s a list of things that all 17 of our candidates are signed up to, for the benefit of the whole of the borough.
So the nominations have closed, and we have the full and final list of the candidates for the Southend-on-Sea local elections.
To my surprise, there are four full slates — from the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens — and UKIP are only one seat short. There are also a few interesting Independent candidates scattered around, and an Indie-on-Indie battle in Shoeburyness, which changes the dynamic there.
As in previous years, Labour candidates are in bold, whilst defending incumbents are in italics. There are five wards this year where the incumbent is not standing for re-election.