Friday 30 March 2018


These photographs were taken yesterday. This is a snapshot of the High Street in Southend-on-Sea.

These are empty shops, and indicates the woeful state of the High Street and its clearly evident decline.

This is not a comprehensive illustration of what is lying empty, and I certainly did not wander down the adjacent streets - which would have doubtless added to this miserable collection.

Thursday 29 March 2018

I think Jonathan N. Fuller has a bee in his bonnet about me

You cannot be in politics without irritating some people, it goes with the territory. Some choose polite discourse on the topic at hand, a minority are less restrained.

Jon Fuller has form when it comes to attacking me. I am a man of many sins, according to Jon. I am, in his opinion, a child murderer, and now a racist. Anyway, don't take my word for it, I reproduce below his latest rantings.

Before that, though, you may find this an interesting read: The ugly Green Party agenda – standing for no other reason than to stop me.

It seems I got right up Julian Ware-Lane's nose. Good. I am delighted.
Julian is one of those pro-pollution plain nasty Labour councillors who vigorously supported expansion of Southend Airport, despite knowing the utter misery this would cause the locals, and knowing that increasing greenhouse gas emissions would kill ever more black & Asian people.
He says the leaflet tells “lies” but I suspect we will wait a long time before hearing what “lies” have been told.
I don’t usually bother to engage with proudly anti-science politicians but he makes an important error in his rage which I had to correct. This is not an election leaflet. 20,000 leaflets were ordered but the bad weather put the team back and we were not able to finish distribution before the local election period began. We stopped leafleting on Friday 16th March and, unless the Tories suddenly decide to meet their COP21 international commitment and start protecting the NHS, deliveries will recommence after the May elections.
Welcome to the politics of protest Julian. If you lived in Sheffield right now you would know all about decent people taking on vicious Labour politicians.

Julian is the type of illinformed chap who shoots his mouth off and then runs for cover. So it is ironic that he calls for debate.

I normally have a canter through the papers and specialist eco websites first thing in the morning and post interesting items here on FB, but I will pause for 24 hours. I doubt any of my Labour supporting FB chums will want to stick up for Julian Ware-Lane, and I am pretty damn certain Julian won't be offering any evidence I have lied, nor will he have the integrity to apologise, but I will leave it for 24 hours to see if anything happens.

No surprise there, Julian Ware-Lane remains silent & he is out on his own.

Steve Jordan tells me that Julian used to be a member of the Green Party but didn’t stay long and hopped it to Labour. That doesn’t surprise me, the Greens don’t support the expansion of polluting activities so Julian wouldn’t have felt at home.

When Julian hears news about the number of children being killed by climate change (340,000 p/a) his reaction is different to everyone else, and demands the expansion of aviation. When Julian hears news that low lying states and the Caribbean may soon be uninhabitable, he falls silent and refuses to contemplate a reduction in such polluting activities. Indeed the only thing we heard from him in recent weeks was to whinge about the increase in car parking charges at the airport !

What an awful human being he is.

It would never occur to Julian that Black & Asian lives matter; that is wrong to kill children and that ‘environmental racism’ is as nasty as it gets.

Like many others I have followed the attacks upon Corbyn over anti-Semitism (principally by the right wing of the PLP). During the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza the UN said that 1,462 civilians, including 495 children were killed. People can react with anger at the killing of so many innocent people and some blamed the Jews rather than the Israeli state. When Israel ignores UN resolutions and continues to build settlements on Palestinian land some people react with fury, blaming Jews rather than Zionism. This dispute within Labour is important, the language used is important, and has led to expulsions from the Party.

But when the dust settles can Labour Party members then get on to the topic of tackling those of its members who put into effect policies that will kill children, and principally Black & Asian children? The Party must no longer turn a blind eye to such cruelty. 

Tuesday 27 March 2018

An oddity of an election leaflet

This is an odd election leaflet, if it is an election leaflet at all. It admonishes its readers against the sin of voting Conservative, not that I disapprove of that, but it offers nothing by way of positive endorsement.

Quite what this leaflet is trying to achieve is beyond me. OK, so we should not vote Conservative but then what? The writing is often hysterical, and throws out insults like confetti. It is as if this leaflet was deliberately designed to dissuade people from supporting causes it clumsily tries to promote.

I think the author needs an education in calm and rational debate, and wants to understand that
lies and insults will create no converts.

Monday 26 March 2018

A thirteen storey hotel for the High Street?

APPLN. NO: 18/00341/OUTM
Officer: Charlotte White
Date Valid. 20 March 2018



I have serious concerns about the proposed height of this structure. It is already a large building, and going to thirteen storeys could seriously overshadow its neighbours. I also wonder where the guests will park as the area already struggles with a lack of parking.

Do not build Forum 2 on one of the few open spaces in Milton says Milton Labour

Proposed site for Forum 2

The two Labour councillors in Milton ward are supportive of the presence of both the University and College in the centre of town.

They also cautiously welcome any extension of their facilities, although they note that only two of the three partners in the Forum are backing plans for Forum 2.

The plans for Forum 2 do give rise to concerns, especially as one of the few areas of green open space in the centre of town is threatened.

Councillors Nevin and Ware-Lane do not want Forum 2 to be built on the green space that lies between the Forum and the Farringdon Service Road.

Councillor Ware-Lane said: “There are quite a number of empty buildings in and around the High Street and I am requesting that these be explored as potential homes for Forum 2”.

Councillor Nevin added: “There are too few green spaces in Milton ward as it is. I want all the current green spaces to be preserved.”

There are also concerns that the popular big screen showings will have to end if this area is built upon.

The Conservatives in Victoria ward

In the last set of local elections in the Borough of Southend-on-Sea (2016) the nadir of support for the Conservatives was in Victoria ward where they received an unimpressive 15.3%.

(The Tories achieved 15.5% in Westborough and 16.0% in Thorpe, which does make one wonder why all the effort in Thorpe.)

Many Tory candidates over the years have toiled away in Victoria ward, with scant return for their efforts. Even in a bad year this ward has safely returned a Labour councillor, and I cannot see anything else happening this year. Whilst I am reluctant to predict who will win where on May 3rd, a defeat here for Labour would be a disaster.

I have received nothing from anyone beyond Labour and the Conservatives, excepting a bizarre communication from Friends of the Earth. Here is the Conservative candidate’s leaflet, an uninspiring affair, but I guess this is no surprise. Even the most optimistic Tory must see Victoria ward as beyond their charms at present.

Mr Harland will do well to narrow the gap between the Tories and Labour, which currently stands at a smidgen under 40%.

Friday 23 March 2018

Old Beecroft refurbishment

When the old Beecroft Art Gallery (opposite the Cliffs Pavilion) was threatened with demolition I was pleased to campaign for its retention. Instead of a block of flats we have still the sight of a beautiful old building, a piece of heritage rescued from the wrecking ball. I paid my part in this victory for common sense, and whilst I was not alone in campaigning for its preservation (and listing) I do take some pride in its still here today existence.

I was also pleased to hear of plans to repair the building and put it back into use. I support the arts locally, and am pleased with plans to restore the building and to use it for artists’ studios,

However, I am a little shocked at the sums involved. I remain to be convinced that this represents value for money to the taxpayer who is ultimately footing the bill.

The projected costs are eye-watering:

Design:                                             £80k
Design contingency:                       £44k
Construction:                                   £682k
Construction contingency:            £34k
Other:                                               £35k

This give a grand total of £875k.

This seems excessive. For instance, £80,000 (and potentially £124,000) to ‘design’ an already existing structure! Does it really cost that to re-imagine painted walls and new carpets?

Why the enormous sum for construction? It is already built. I know that some remedial work will be needed, not least to fix the apparent subsidence, but really? It makes one’s mind boggle.

Whatever the costs I hope local, Southend, labour is used. I also wonder whether the contracts will be awarded to companies now run by former council employees.

I think we need a little more detail on what these enormous sums will actually result in, and transparency too.

St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition