I have resisted the urge to blog on the council meeting of 26th February 2015, as while it had the potential to be exciting, it wasn’t. Everyone in the administration parties was whipped to vote the ‘right’ way, even those who very publicly spoke out against it, ensuring the budget passed.
The Conservatives have not had a whip since well before I joined the Council nearly four years ago, several years before that as well I believe. The Independent Party would argue the same, however I cannot believe Nigel Holdcroft would ever have been so blatant and cheeky as to stand up, just before the main budget vote, and say to administration members something along the lines of: “It may be worth pointing out that you want to vote For” – nothing like letting people make their own minds up.
I have previous blogged the five Conservative amendments, I didn’t’ expect them to pass, as with ‘UKIP’ (presently excluded from the party nationally) taking their standard line of “anything but Tory”, even though they didn’t want a Council Tax rise, Car Parking charge rise or the other cuts we had proposed, the voting was but a formality.
A few notable things did happen in respect of the budget though:
1. Ron Woodley continued to show he can only speak in overtly political and rude manner, whilst stumbling over the words written on a piece of paper for him (who, in their middle of their speech, turns round to the officer behind them and says “there is a spelling mistake here”?). Whilst I’m sure the Conservative’s five amendments were not perfect (and as I spearheaded them I expected to take some flak from the Administration for them), I think Ron Woodley could have had a better retort than “You can’t even afford the shoes I am standing in” in his summing up (Sadly the webcast cut out around this time).
2. Mike Assesnheim, a member of the Cabinet, Independent Shoebury Councillor (same party as the Leader of the Council, Ron Woodley) and star of that day’s Evening Echo, continued his bizarre stance on litter bins. He had voted to propose the budget to the council as one of his duties as a Cabinet member, not once, but twice. He then had a full page spread opposing the cuts to litter bins, only to hours later when presented with an amendment to reverse the litter bin cuts voted against it.
3. Blenheim Park’s contributions to the budget was left to yours truly only. Floyd Waterworth decided to go for a walk during most of the budget debate, before leaving the chamber at around 8:30, before there were any votes. Graham Longley sat there and took some scathing comments about increasing pier charges, but contributed nothing to the entire debate (or council meeting, with the exception of answering a prepared question at the very start of the meeting).
4. A new, very costly proposal was announced during the Leader’s rambling speech, of a Southend Advantage Card being sent to all residents, free of charge. The costs of distribution, and the loss of income to the council (which can be as much as 50% in some cases) when residents use the card to swim, play bowling, tennis or walk up the pier had not been thought about – mainly because it was an idea sprung on council officers as much as opposition councillors.
I haven’t repeated my speech on this blog, because it can be seen online here: