Click here for the Conservatives’ budget amendment proposal to the Rainbow Coalition’s proposed 2016-17 budget.
Buried on the council website is an interesting table, showing councillors’ attendance at certain council meetings (full council meetings, scrutiny, Cabinet (including subcommittees) and other council committees (such as Audit/Appeals).
I was pleased to be one of many who insisted this information is important to have in the public domain. I think we can be reasonable pleased with the first effort council officers have come up with to allow residents to see whether they are being properly represented (or at least whether they are turning up – contribution levels vary dramatically) by their ward councillors in meetings that involve the running of the whole town, rather than just their ward.
I’m not convinced the table has all of the meetings it could have included, and with different councillors on different committees (and therefore expected to attend different, and differing numbers of, meetings) it is not quite as useful as it could be. But this is the first year, so I’ll check it out again next year.
It should also be noted that there is more to the role of being a councillor than being a great orator in the council chamber. However I do think it is important that people at least turn up and therefore the residents of the ward they represent get a say in how the town is run.
With all bar one (Licensing sub-committee A!) council meetings for the calendar year 2015 over the table stands at:
Bold = Blenheim Park Ward councillor.
*Known health problems
- Only 18 out of 51 councillors managed to achieve 100% attendance (although many of the others will have sent substitutes and attended as a substitute for others)
- Of the four councillors (excluding Graham Longely who is unwell) who could reasonably have been expected to attend 80% or more council meetings, I’m pleased that none of them are Conservatives and not surprised that two of them were elected under the UKIP banner.
- I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions on the attendance record of the three Blenheim Park councillors….
Tonight was the LCM where the community from Blenheim Park, Chalkwell, Prittlewell and Westborough wards get to meet with the police and discuss serious and ‘less serious’ crime that has been happening in the area, since the last meeting.
We had an update from the police, for the four wards, there have been (7th October to 30th November):
58 fewer burglaries than the same period last year. However they are carrying on Operation Insight (which concentrates on burglary) as this is the major priority for the neighbourhood police and residents alike.
184 instances of Anti-Social Behaviour (220 in same period 2014), which isn’t too bad given this includes Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Residents raised issues of: the theft of white sacks (textile recycling), cars driving on pavements (at the Shell petrol station) to cut through the traffic lights on the A127, youths smoking cannabis (I won’t disclose the location!), bogus callers (particularly after antiques) and hoax emails being circulated and speeding in various locations.
The police took away the information and will be looking into most of these issues where they can.
We also received a short talk on crime prevention, focusing on car locks being jammed.
I haven’t had any criminal activity or major antisocial behaviour reported to me over the last 2-3 months (this is the first time I haven’t had anything to raise at a LCM or their precursor Neighbourhood Action Panel). I’d like to say it is because Blenheim Park is crime and antisocial behaviour free, but I’m sure that’s not the case – so please come along to my surgery (first Saturday of the month 10:30am to 12noon at the Old West Area Housing Office, 2 Mendip Road, SS0 0HD or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to discuss any issues you have and see how I can take them forward for you.
Today Southend Council’s Cabinet met and rejected Cllr Longley’s attempt to railroad through the Blenheim Park Pavilion proposal and deferred taking a decision on this until such time as a proper consultation takes place and ward councillors (or at least the majority of ward councillors) agree with the proposal.
I would be delighted to support a Pavilion in the park – if that’s what residents want. Without giving the residents the information to take an informed decision, how can they know?
This Administration couldn’t organise a drink up in a brewery – the Deputy Leader of the Council, Graham Longley, puts a paper to Cabinet to force this through, he takes the day off (I assume to attend the exciting, but sparse, Lib Dem conference), only to find out that in his absence his Leader does his legs in. For once I agree with Cllr Woodley. Just a shame I’ve had to push so hard for this Listening Administration to actually listen!!
At the meeting of the full council last night, the debate continued.
http://www.southend.public-i.tv/core/share/open/webcast/0/0/560/185976/185976/webcast/start_time/5267000 – here you can see the debate. The full debate lasts for about 25 minutes.
I asked for a response to my request for a public meeting, only to be told that I couldn’t have one – well maybe I would be able to have one, but not until the weak consultation that has been started (due to yours truly forcing Cllr Longley to undertake one) has finished!! Well that will be helpful, won’t it!
This is lining up to be Cllr Longley’s little project that he will push through regardless of my or residents views. Very disappointing.
As someone quicker off the mark has already reported (the perennial blogger Cllr Ware-Lane), there was some ‘fun’ at the recent Place Scrutiny meeting.
There were also some important matters discussed. One of the important matters that was there for debate (as requested by the Conservative Group – i.e. Me in this instance) was the proposals for the Blenheim Park Pavilion.
I have today emailed the Chief Executive requesting that the council holds a public meeting, to explain the proposals to the public and garner their views.
My inbox has received several messages from residents concerned about the proposals. The chief complaint (by me and residents) is that we don’t know much about them! Residents, understandably, fear the worst.
I was delighted to call, with the aforementioned councillor, for the matter to be referred back to Cabinet (basically to ask the Administration to think again). My reasoning was to allow for some consultation to take place and for residents’ views to be taken into account.
There is a wonderfully worded introduction to the on-line consultation: “The portfolio holder for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Cllr Graham Longley, has requested that a consultation is undertaken with local residents and park users regarding a proposal, received by the council, to build a new football pavilion and changing rooms in Blenheim Park.”
This is a load of boloney… he has only ‘requested’ this because his proposal was thrown out by me and the Conservative group (with an honourable mention to an Administration backbencher or two) and he now has to be seen to do something to ensure his plans are not dead in the water.
Well I’m sorry, an on-line consultation and a few letters to residents will not do. I am requesting that the council holds a public meeting, to explain the proposals to the public and garner their views.
Only your Conservative Councillor is standing up for your right to be informed and have a say at what happens in Blenheim Park. Cllr Longley wanted to plough ahead without listening and Cllr Waterworth… well where is he? I haven’t heard a word out of him about the proposals.
Unlike many Southend political bloggers I tend only to blog when I have something interesting to say (that hasn’t already been said!). However I have been a little remiss in not publicly thanking the residents of Blenheim Park ward for re-electing me as their local councillor until 2019.
I’d like to think the fact my majority increased from 56 to 787 had more to do with my hard work and determination over the past four years than the fact there was a general election with the Conservatives having a decent result nationally. But sadly I can’t think that, as general elections do tend to sway things rather more than the local picture.
However, I do think working hard locally can pay off – yes the Lib Dem collapse and resilient Conservative vote certainly helped in Leigh, but I’m not sure that without a hardworking candidate, who had stood before so built up a little bit of name recognition for his hard work we would have crossed the finishing line first.
In Blenheim I was delighted to speak to 100s of residents personally over the campaign, with a fair number recognising who I was before I introduced myself – something that usually only Sir David Amess gets on a frequent basis.
My lack of public thanks to the residents of Blenheim can perhaps be compensated by the actions I have been taking, with housing issues, progressing the concerns of 100s of parents of Blenheim Primary School with traffic safety in School Way and trying to find a balancing act between the residents around Darlinghurst Primary School and the parents of those who attend there (PLEASE PARK LEGALLY AND WITH CONSIDERATION!). This, coupled with council activities and having to go back to my day job after a two week ‘holiday’ for the election campaign, has kept me busy.
I am delighted with my responsibilities on the council for the forthcoming year, some new ones and some that remain the same:
London Southend Airport Monitoring Working Party – I’m pleased to have been on this since its creation and I have no plans to leave it, so I can ensure that residents get the best out of the airport for the least amount of hassle (enough about that controversial subject).
Traffic and Parking Working Party – This means I will be able to deal with some of the most hotly contested issues across the town and in Blenheim in particular.
Audit Committee – Being someone who doesn’t actually find numbers dull, I quite like this committee (but that’s enough confessions for tonight!)
Place Scrutiny Committee
Planning and Development Forum
Waste Management Working Party
Southend Local Development Framework Working Party
These are all new to me – having carried on with my Children and Learning brief in opposition after two years as the portfolio holder. However my brief has changed this year to shadow Martin Terry, the Executive Councillor for Public Protection, Waste and Transport. Therefore my responsibility with these four meetings are all about ensuring Martin and the Administration are kept on their toes when delivering things such as the new Kent Elms junction crossing, the delivery of a new 15 and a half year recycling and waste contract, along with other issues such as liaison with the police service and flood defences (with important decisions coming up in Shoebury). These will be a challenge, but one I will relish, whilst still keeping a fond eye on the education standards of the town, something I have spent the past three years engrossed in.
I will be continuing my monthly in-ward surgery, something many of colleagues on the council abandoned a long time ago, only months after their election. I pledged to do it for four years and I did. I pledge to do it for another four years and I will. It is a great way for people who might not be as into technology as me to communicate, to meet residents face-to-face and to spend some quality time talking about issues that matter, rather than the fleeting conversations that happen on the doorstep.
This is a real cheat, but why reinvent the wheel? Thanks to my political opponent in Blenheim Park for having put together this blog post and for a decent clean fight in Blenheim.
More from me soon on the elections.
PS – please note the maths is wrong in the table! The Independent Party lost two seats, so should be -2, as Ric Morgan was an Independent Party member when he stood down.
Four years ago, almost to the day, the people of Blenheim Park elected me as their representative on Southend Council.
Today they get the chance to kick me out or renew my mandate.
There is also that other election today, don’t forget to vote for Amess and Duddridge too!
Here starts the longest day of the year!
As thousands of pupils across Southend are sitting down to the dulcet tones of their form tutor or class teacher taking the register, it is time to take the Register of Shame. For these councillors decided, on Thursday last, to put party politics above all else and that, for 1,154 pupils at least, it was more important that they won a vote and saved face, than to provide more of our children with a decent standard of education.
Those pupils in receipt of a black mark are as follows:
Mike Assenheim, Independent Party
Steve Aylen, Independent Party
Brian Ayling, Independent Party (who voted the other way 9 days earlier)
Mary Betson, Liberal Democrat
Tino Callaghan, UKIP (currently suspended from the national party)
Anne Chalk, Independent Party
Alan Crystall, Liberal Demorcrat
Lawrence Davies, UKIP (currently suspended from the national party)
Caroline Endersby, Independent Party (who voted the other way 9 days earlier)
Ian Gilbert, Labour
Graham Longley, Liberal Democrat
Judith McMahon, Labour
James Moyies, UKIP (expelled from the national party, but UKIP Leader on the council)
Carole Mulroney, Liberal Democrat
Cheryl Nevin, Labour
David Norman MBE, Labour
Kevin Robinson, Labour
Martin Terry, Independent PartyPaul Van Looy, Independent Party
Marimuthu “Dr Vel” Velmurgugan, Independent Party
Nick Ward, Independent Party
Julian Gabriel St.John Ware-Lane, Labour
Floyd Waterworth, UKIP (and present!)
Peter Wexham, Liberal Democrat
Ron Woodley, Leader of the Council, Independent Party
No break-time for them today!