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.