tony cox

Southend UKIP/Tory alliance to undo last two years’ achievements

tory ukip

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.

Read on…

In the aftermath of a failed Southend Conservative coup

Southend Tories we don't have a clue small

Yesterday I blogged the list of the Conservative shadow cabinet on Southend Borough Council, and left it deliberately without comment.

I spent last year rather confused as to who was in the shadow cabinet, and what they were doing (Bugger all being the standard response to that particular question -Ed). So this year I made a special effort to find out who these people were, and the result was posted up for the whole world to see.

Now, there are some observations to be made about the names on that list. There are more pertinent observations, perhaps, to be made about the names which aren’t on that list. For one thing, after he managed to get re-elected, poor Derek Jarvis is out on his ear. More perplexing, though, is that having gotten the heavyweight they sorely needed back on the Tory benches in the form of Tony Cox, he’s been given…err, diddley squat.

This, I suspect, is the aftermath of an attempted coup at the top of the Conservative Party in Southend.

Read on…

“Is this the change you voted for?” ask Southend Tories. Actually, yes

the change you voted for FIXED

Another day, another Southend Conservative poster fixed by yours truly.

You can read the original over on the blog of Tony Cox, the local Tory chairman doing some admirable rearranging of deckchairs as his party sinks beneath him. It is, however, interesting that they seem to think that saving care homes and building sorely needed houses for the future is “wasteful spending”, though.

I somehow suspect that the people of Southend, who remember well the stagnation under 14 years of Tory rule, would disagree.

Tinker, Tailor, Litter Bin Spy

tinker tailor litter bin spy

I confess that, although I noticed Tony Cox’s tweet at gone 11 on Wednesday night, the significance didn’t dawn on me at the time.

It seemed unlikely for a number of reasons. Firstly, in my experience, local news rarely breaks so late at night in the middle of the week. Secondly, if it does it isn’t usually about litter bins. Thirdly, is this what the Conservative Party of Southend-on-Sea is reduced to?

But actually, there was a story here. You see, the information which Tony tweeted, was released in email to the borough councillors the next day. So how did the chairman of Rochford & Southend East Conservative Association get hold of it some 12 hours before the elected representatives of the voters of the town’s residents?

Who is the Tory mole in Southend Borough Council?


Lies, damn lies, and Southend Conservative Party posters

southend tory council tax poster corrected

The Conservative Party in Southend yesterday released their batch of local election posters. It’s pretty unadventurous stuff, to be honest, but I did like the rather brazen one about council tax. It takes some fairly impressive cheek to print something which, if not an outright lie, is certainly highly misleading.

I’ve written before about how the Conservatives in Southend have not yet recovered from the psychological shock of being rejected so emphatically by the people of the town in May last year. They have no new ideas to sell, so they cling desperately to the belief that the voters made a mistake, which they are bound to realise soon. Right? …right?

That, I think, is the mindset behind the “SOUTHEND’S COUNCIL TAX BOMBSHELL” poster. Luckily for the local Conservatives, I have “fixed” it for them, above. I’m generous like that.

Read on…

Why are Southend Tories against saving £825k on waste collection?

rubbish bags
When the news first emerged that Cory Environmental had lost the contract for Southend Borough Council’s waste collection service, I thought it odd that the local Conservatives decided to position it as the lynch-pin of their opposition campaign.

For one thing, they are the party of privatisation. I wouldn’t describe myself as a completely implacable opponent of private sector involvement in public services but…well, let’s say I’m sceptical.

This, though, is surely the model of how it should work? A contract comes up for renewal, and all comers are invited to bid. They are whittled down to the best offers, and then a choice made between them.

So why were the Tories so against Cory losing the contract? And why are they now so against the £800k saving as a result of changing provider?

Read on…

Were we lied to over the Shoebury sea defences?

shoebury common sea defences

It feels a little redundant to describe the Shoebury sea wall debate as the defining issue of the last local elections in Southend — at least in the ward where I was the Labour candidate, West Shoebury.

At the time I was, I feel, more moderate than my opponents on the matter. Whilst UKIP’s James Moyies (who went on to win) damned the council’s preferred scheme as wrong and unworkable, and Conservative then-Cllr Tony Cox backed it to his last electoral gasp, I took the middle way.

I said, whenever asked, that the decision should be reviewed. That the process should be scrutinised. That the choices should be looked at afresh. But given that sea defences are vital — and I still believe that — I could not, I felt, dismiss the then-administration’s preferred plan, given that it was the most cost effective.

That, however, has now been brought into question. In the review initiated by the new joint administration, the preferred scheme has been found not to be the cheapest, but indeed the second most expensive.

Read on…

What a Cory-motion


Blimey, I’ve never known so much fuss over a waste collection contract.

(And, for anyone who has been following my blog from the early days, and who remembers that one of my first forays into local politics was over changes to the, err, waste collection contract in Wokingham — yes, I appreciate the irony)

When Mark Flewitt made an opportunistic attack on the failure of current waste collection providers Cory Environmental to make the shortlist for the new procurement contract, it was pretty much par for the course, right down to the mangled metaphors. But, it turns out, that he isn’t the only one.

Read on…

Last march of the doomed – Southend Tories select for 2015


tory tree on fire

So the Conservative party in Rochford & Southend East have selected their council candidates for the local elections in 2015. It’s not especially surprising, Southend Labour will be doing the same shortly. The list, too, is not terribly surprising.

This year, the Conservative Party won a grand total of zero seats in the nine wards up for election across  the constituency. This time there are ten wards up for election, which surely gives them an opportunity to not win an extra one. It has become increasingly clear that Conservative fortunes in Southend, particularly in the east, are in full-scale retreat.

What is somewhat surprising is the content of the candidate list.

Read on…

Cllr Mark Flewitt, talking rubbish

mark flewitt

The blog of Southend Tory councillor Mark Flewitt (St Laurence ward) is something of a dark fascination. Like a pile-up on the other side of the motorway, you know it’s going to be a grisly grammatical mess but you can’t help but peek a glance.

The latest instalment of the Flewitt Saga sees the good councillor taking umbrage at the tendering process for the council’s waste collection contracts. Apparently, the current contract holders, Cory Environmental, have lost out on the new contract.

Mark is obviously outraged (you can tell by the number of exclamation marks), but it’s not immediately apparent why

Read on…