Saturday, 28 May 2016

It comes to something when even your own side have to be induced to support you


With no one party managing to achieve a majority in the Council chamber in Southend-on-Sea it was inevitable that an amount of horse trading would ensue. Whilst I take no pleasure in seeing the Tories back in control, the marriage of two right-wing parties to make this possible was inevitable.

At least those who allowed themselves to believe that UKIP was an alternative to Conservatives will now be somewhat disabused of this notion.

What was surprising, though, was sight of a Conservative Leader effectively bribing his own members to support his challenge for leadership of the council. Weak leadership now characterises the top of the local Conservative Party.

Cllr Lamb has expanded the size of the Cabinet (in spite of pledges to do the exact reverse) so that dissident voices could be bought off. The only other explanation is that it takes eight Tories to do what the Joint Administration managed with seven (which may be true in any case).

For the record I have never had to be seduced into showing my loyalty, nor offered support in exchange for either filthy lucre or the baubles of office. I support my party as that is where my principles lie.

As for some in the Conservative Party, it seems that their attitude to principles mirrors that of Groucho Marx ("Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.")

Friday, 27 May 2016

This week's interesting planning applications for Milton ward


Here are a couple of recent planning application in Milton ward that may be of interest to those who live in Southend-on-Sea.

 

APPLN. NO: 16/00929/PA3COU

 

Officer: Ian Harrison

Date Valid. 25 May 2016

CHANGE OF USE OF EXISTING BUILDING FROM OFFICE (CLASS B1(A)) TO EIGHTY SIX FLATS (CLASS C3) (PRIOR APPROVAL) (AMENDED PROPOSAL)

 9 ELMER APPROACH SOUTHEND-ON-SEA ESSEX

 

APPLN. NO: 16/00958/PA3COU

 

Officer: Janine Rowley

Date Valid. 26 May 2016

CHANGE OF USE FROM FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES (CLASS A2) TO THREE SELF-CONTAINED FLATS (CLASS C3) (PRIOR APPROVAL)

NATWEST BANK 39 HAMLET COURT ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA

 

 

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The cliffs repairs - a long wait thus far and a while to go I expect


A couple of years rainwater run-off led a stream-like cascade down Seaforth and Manor Road in Westcliff-on-Sea. This torrent led to a waterfall like cascade over the Clifton Drive cliffs, which caused a considerable amount of damage.

 

The Council pledged to repair the damaged cliffs, repairs that are well under way. However, it does appear that the repairs are taking longer than expected.

 

Assurances were issued by the previous Leader of the Council (Cllr Ron Woodley) that the cliff repairs would be completed by June 3rd. With about a week until that deadline passes I cannot but believe that it will be a deadline that will be missed.

 

In fact my admittedly inexperienced eye suggests that the deadline is going to be missed by a country mile. Now I do know that these repairs take time, and that the Council is undertaking proper repairs rather than a quick fix, but these cliffs do not look like they will be completed by the summer  - which will disappoint not just locals but those who choose to visit this wonderful seaside town.

 

I hope that the repairs are being expedited with all possible speed. For too long these cliffs have been out of bounds, initially owing to damage, and owing to repairs.

 

I want good, substantial repairs above all else. But this has been a long time in the waiting, and looking increasingly like we will have to wait a while longer.

If animals could vote they would vote to remain in Europe (LAWS leaflet)



Monday, 23 May 2016

Please encourage your MP to sign this

Early day motion 577 HITTING HORSES IN RACING
To those who care about the welfare of animals this will be a no brainer.. The text of this Early Day Motion reads as follows:

That this House notes with concern that racehorses are routinely beaten with a whip under rules set by the industry's regulatory body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA); further notes that these rules explicitly sanction the use of the whip for so-called encouragement, in order that jockeys may try to improve their chances of winning; observes that new research demonstrates that the majority of whip strikes and breaches occur in the final stages of hotly contested races, even though evidence indicates that whipping for this purpose is counter-productive and does not make a horse go faster; further observes that horseracing is the only form of public entertainment to involve hitting animals, and believes that this is out of place in a nation with a great concern for animal wellbeing; notes that no other animal can be legally beaten in such circumstances, and that a 2014 YouGov poll found that 70 per cent of all respondents oppose racehorses being whipped; recognises that, for genuine purposes of safety, where other methods have failed to bring a horse under control, a whip can be legitimately employed, as recommended by the RSPCA and as is already the case in Norway; and calls on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that the BHA's rules are amended to forbid use of the whip for encouragement or for equivalent reasons.

 There should be no place for cruelty in a civilised country.

I would encourage you to vist Animal Aid's Horse racing page.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Vote to remain


APPLN. NO: 16/00757/PA3COU

APPLN. NO: 16/00757/PA3COU    

Officer: Janine Rowley 
Date Valid. 5 May 2016 

CHANGE OF USE OF GROUND FLOOR FROM SHOP (CLASS A1) TO RESIDENTIAL (CLASS C3) (PRIOR APPROVAL)

38 HAMLET COURT ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX 

This application will result in the loss of a commercial premises in Westcliff-on-Sea's high street.

Friday, 20 May 2016

How it went in Rochford on May 5th



Here is a summary of the Rochford District Council elections held on May 5th:

party
vote %
seats won
Conservative
46.8
21
Labour
13.1
0
Rochford District Residents
12.1
6
UKIP
10.0
4
Liberal Democrat
8.9
4
Green
6.6
3
Rayleigh Independents
1.8
1
Independent
0.7
0

Labour came second on votes share, but failed to win a seat (and thus lost their two seats).

This was an all-up election, and the unevenness of the number of candidates illustrated one of the failures of all-up elections.

The Tories now have a majority of three in the council chamber.

As for trends; in terms of vote share this is the best Conservative performance here since 2012. It is Labour's best since 2014, and the Liberal Democrats had their best day since 2013. It was an improved performance for the Greens too, their best since 2014.

The biggest losers were UKIP, who lost over half their vote share as compared to last year. Rochford District Residents are also down on last year.

My role for the new civic year



Here are the committees, working parties and outside bodies that I will be sitting on for the coming civic year (2016 - 2017):

Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee
Appointment and Disciplinary Committee
Licensing Committee
Audit Committee
Biodiversity & Environmental Awareness Working Party
Conservation Working Party
Grants Strategy Working Party
Public Transport and Buses Working Party
Traffic and Parking Working Party
Southend Business & Tourism Partnership
Essex Fire Authority

In addition to these I am the Deputy Leader of the Labour Group (and, owing to a change of administration, now have a new seat in the chamber).

I shadow the deputy leader of the council, whose new responsibilities are now Culture, Tourism & The Economy.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Eight of the ten

Cllrs Gilbert, Willis, Borton, Jones, Robinson, Nevin, Norman, and Ware-Lane.
A recent photo of eight of the ten-strong Labour Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. The two missing were Cllrs McDonald and McMahon.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Southend UKIP propping up the unpopular


As we are about to see a change in who runs the Borough of Southend-on-Sea I think it pertinent to remind people that the new administration will be led by a Conservative Party that achieved its lowest vote share in more than two decades, attracting less than 30% of those that voted. They will be propped up by a party, UKIP, who failed to win a single seat.

Such is the bizarre nature of our democracy.

The Tory-UKIP pact replaces a Joint Administration, whose candidates received just over 51% of the popular vote.

So, it could be argued that not only are UKIP bending over backwards to give the reins of power to the Tories, they do this in defiance of the wishes of Southend's voters.

Still, doubtless both UKIP and their new found blue friends will now be able to celebrate every cut foisted upon them by Mr Cameron's Government. In the meantime, the Labour Group will continue to fight for fairness.


Tories down, Labour up - a look at recent results in Southend-on-Sea



Here is how Labour's vote share (percentage) has changed in recent years across a number of wards in Southend-on-Sea. I have ignored General Election years as these skew the data.

ward
2008
2011
2012
2014
2016
nett change
Westborough
9.4
26.5
31.0
33.2
33.9
24.5
Milton
25.8
32.5
35.8
36.4
45.3
19.5
Prittlewell
7.9
16.1
17.1
14.5
27..0
19.1
Victoria
37.7
48.7
50.4
39.5
54.7
17.0
Blenheim Park
9.1
18.6
16.5
14.3
24.6
15.5
Kursaal
38.0
44.5
38.8
31.5
42.2
4.2
St Luke's
19.4
21.3
25.8
26.5
20.9
1.5

By comparison, here are how the Conservative vote has changed over the same period.
ward
2008
2011
2012
2014
2016
nett change
Southchurch
37.0
38.0
35.8
38.8
35.1
-1.9
St Laurence
42.5
35.3
35.9
28.2
38.2
-4.3
Belfairs
43.9
51.7
29.6
44.7
39.2
-4.7
West Leigh
58.0
50.0
49.7
40.6
44.6
-13.4
Eastwood Park
57.2
52.3
50.9
41.8
42.6
-14.6
Chalkwell
56.6
47.3
41.7
37.3
38.5
-18.1
West Shoebury
56.3
51.7
39.1
34.8
36.0
-20.3

I have selected the best seven wards for both parties. Every Labour ward has seen improvement, significant in five of the seven. In contrast the Conservatives are down in all wards, significantly in four of them.

Whilst I cannot prove any correlation, the slump in Tory voter numbers matches the rise in UKIP support. The imminent pact may have consequences beyond handing power to an increasingly unpopular Conservative Party.

The slump in Liberal Democrat fortunes does not appear to have transferred voters in any significant numbers to Labour (or so it appears to me).  In 2010 there was certainly some transfer from yellow to red, but in recent years this has levelled out, and I would guess that it is the Greens who are benefiting from disaffected Liberal supporters. The caveat here, though, is that where Labour can seriously challenge the Tories then former Lib Dems votes are going red. The challenge for the Greens (and UKIP) is proving to voters that they can win wards - otherwise voters will peel off towards parties that do stand a realistic chance of seeing their candidates elected.