For those who aren’t quite as avid followers of Southend local politics as your blogger, Daryl Peagram was the Conservatives’ candidate for the Southend West ward of Westborough in 2015 and 2016. On both occasions he was unsuccessful, losing to Labour both years and going from second to third between the two years.
His campaigns were most remarkable for his bizarre election literature, but nowadays he runs a niche and little-followed Facebook page where he approaches local politics with fury and factual accuracy of Fox News across the pond.
Today he’s helping out the Tories’ campaign in the ward for 2018 — by, err, describing residents as “scumbags”.
This is a guest post, written by Labour candidate for Essex Police & Crime Commissioner, Chris Vince. As such, the views and opinions expressed may differ radically from your blogger’s own. Some of them may even make sense…
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.
So I’ve touched on the proposals to build a pavilion on Blenheim Park previously, and the reasons that I’m against it — loosely boiling down to the fact that I am not keen to see a precious green space and piece of public land given away on a whim to a private entity.
The issue has been bubbling away over the summer, and I’ve heard from a fair number of residents — both contacting me directly, and when I speak to them on the doorsteps — raise that they are really not keen on the proposal. So serious has this become that even the part-time UKIP representative, Cllr Floyd Waterworth, has emerged from his inter-election hibernation to string a few words together on the topic.
As well as canvassing the views of residents — which, despite what the Council consultation might claim, my experience says they are largely against it — I have been lobbying behind the scenes on the subject, to the point that Cllr Gilbert, leader of the Labour group and Deputy Leader of the Council, is well and truly sick of me talking about the subject.
It has clearly done some good, though. At the meeting of the Cabinet this week, the decision was taken to delay the development for further consultation.
When the leader of the Independent Party Group, Martin Terry, decided not to stay in Westborough for a hopeless stand, but rather to flee across Southend to the electoral safety of Thorpe, I genuinely wondered whether the Independent Party Group would field a candidate.
I mean, Martin has salted the ground for any candidate pretty thoroughly, and has surely tainted the official Independent banner in Westcliff. He essentially declared that his ego was more important than the voters he was supposed to be representing. Then he threw a slightly inept smoke bomb, and tried to sneak out the back.
However. For every thankless task there is a taker. Cometh the hour, cometh Independent Party Group candidate for Westborough: Alan Hart.
West Shoebury is interesting, as far as the local elections in Southend go, as it is the only seat where UKIP stand any chance of breaking through. James Moyies has been putting considerable time and effort to winning a council seat, and after coming up 3% shy in 2012, he clearly fancies his chances against incumbent Tony Cox this year.
What Mr Moyies is actually offering, though, is a bit of a confusing story.
With the local elections this year being later than most due to the European Parliament elections (the vote usually occurs on the first Thursday in May), today has seen the publishing by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council of the notice of election. This marks the “official” start of the election campaign — I say official, but all parties have been laying the groundwork for months. Would-be candidates have now 10 days to get their nomination papers in — with the signatures of 10 nominators living in the ward and on the electoral roll — by 24th April.
There are eighteen seats up for election — one in each of the seventeen wards in the borough, and an extra in Westborough which Independent Martin Terry has vacated in his flight to Thorpe — of which 11 are Tory-held, 5 by the Lib Dems, 1 Labour and 1 Independent.
Most local political commentators — both enthusiastic amateurs like myself, and those sitting on the council — are expecting upheaval after this election. The Conservative majority stands at 1 presently, and they are almost certain to lose a number of seats on May 22nd. What this means for post-election Southend will depend on how the dice ultimately fall, and what alliances can be made as a result.
So there is a lot to play for; expect a lively campaign.
James Duddridge’s “Halifax customers only” community surgery seems, at first glance, like a fairly trivial issue. But really it goes to the heart of the idea of representation. With concerns about corporate and large scale lobbying diluting the access of voters to their MPs, Mr Duddridge putting himself in a position where he seems to be turning his representation into a service for sale to corporations looks about as wise and well informed as Grant Shapps’ latest Twitter campaign.
We at Castle Dent (n.b. not an actual castle) had an interesting caller yesterday afternoon. Whilst the sun beat down on Southend, the doorbell rang, and I was the one to open the door.
And it opened onto a strange gentlemen, with a clipboard in hand, and a look I knew well. He introduced himself as the Conservative candidate for Victoria Ward. When he asked about my own politics, I was honest — a simple Google search would have told him the truth any how. It was a little different to how I would have canvassed someone on the doorstep; a lecture on the follies of François Hollande and the Parti Socialiste.
His name was Denis Garne, and less than half an hour later I learnt that he was a former councillor on Southend Borough Council. Representing the, erm, Labour Party.
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.