Tag Archives: Independents

INDEPENDENT PARTY IN DISARRAY

You couldn’t make this up…..

Over the past few days the Independent party have been getting up posters about the ‘spy car’ these postershave gone out in Ron Woodley’s name on behalf of the Independent Group.

However,  some Independent Cllrs have been calling for the CCTV car to be deployed in their wards!  If they cannot even agree on the CCTV Car how can they think that they could form a co-alition or take control of the council….

No wriggle room for Martin Terry

I have very little desire to spend much time commenting further on Martin Terry’s increasingly surreal blogs. He responds to my previous post by claiming I failed to provide context.

Well I posted not only Martin’s comments, but the entire article from the Echo so that there could be no question of misrepresenting the context.

Besides how much wriggle room is there in the words ‘ I agree with EVERYTHING (Anna Waite) said or ‘What she said was entirely right’

Independent leader damns himself with his dishonest and fake comments (with evidence).

I suspected when I posted about Martin Terry on Saturday that he lacked the self awareness to stop incoherently ranting about me, ‘bilge pumps’ and whatever other phantom evils invest his mind.

What Martin Terry didn’t realise is that to an extent I was counting on his response as a basis of bringing something rather interesting to light.

Martin Terry has made great play of the offense he takes from my ‘supposed’ comments about single mothers. Never mind that he regularly misquotes or misunderstands what I said, he describes my comments as a disgusting attack, blighting single mothers, as spiteful, nasty, shameful and disgraceful. He also repeatedly calls for my resignation.

So why would I repeat all these accusations? Well let us take a look at the Southend Echo newspaper of February 29th. This was the Echo’s second story on this topic.

As part of this piece the Newspaper gives a comment to the opposition. A whole box set aside so we can read the views of the opposition councillors, and who did they pick to give this comment? Why none other than the fulminating Martin Terry, leader of the Independent party.

And what did Mr Martin Terry have to say about my comments? Why, he said that he totally agreed with them.

Expanded and unedted section from article in Southend Echo from 29th February 2012 showing Martin Terry’s comments. See below for context.

Not that I should resign, or that he was appalled or even that he agreed only in part.

No, he stated that he TOTALLY AGREED with them. Let me quote him again where he says “what [Anna Waite] said was ENTIRELY RIGHT“.

There is more than enough  hyperbole in politics and I have no wish to add to it by making exaggerated comments or personally insulting the guy, especially when his rants say more about him than I could. But who, in all honesty, can respect Martin Terry, or have him as their party leader, when he carries on like this?

You can read my comments on Southend Town Centre here

Independents- A New Dawn? Hardly- they can barely hold a conversation, let alone run a council.

It might seem an odd choice of website to promote, but I would urge anyone thinking of voting independent to visit Martin Terry’s blog. He seems to have a rather creepy case of ‘mentionitis’ about me (8 highlighted references to someones name in a single post does come across as slightly obsessive). It’s not how normal adults generally conduct themselves. He’s sort of a ‘real world’ internet troll.

Anyway his central theme that I am somehow controlling the local conservative party is (perhaps sadly from my point of view!) as entirely false as the rest of the innuendo on his blog. The post of chairman is mainly concerned with administrative and organisational issues. It can certainly be a busy job at times but it doesn’t involve setting or determining ‘policy’.

I genuinely find it quite sad that the residents of Westbourough have to be represented by someone like this. What do you think officers of the council make of his ranting and raving? I think his behaviour on council was embarrassingly poor at times. I have huge respect for the professionalism and independence of Council staff  but someone as aggressive and unpleasant as Martin Terry is an almost totally ineffective advocate for his residents.

He talks on occasion about some sort of post-parties collaborative council, but at a very fundamental level the man is not capable of collaboration because he is so fixated with attacking anyone who disagrees with him – no matter how trivially obvious it is to everyone else that he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. I remember as a portfolio holder him shouting at me in full council because of some comment in a report and when I later read the report I realised he had completely misunderstood it, and I do mean completely.

I think that’s what bothers me about the independents. I was a councillor for a long while before the ‘independents’ started to win any seats and for that time disputes between local politicians were about policy and principles. However, a lot of what the independents say is – and I don’t know whether it’s dishonesty, or that they don’t understand, or don’t want to understand – so far removed from the reality of what is going on that discussion become impossible.

Instead they run very personal campaigns which seem to primarily work by making as many outrageous claims as possible and relying on enough people currently mistrusting politicians that some of it sticks. In national politics there is a competitive media and plenty of rescources to ensure that overtly cynical politics gets exposed. In the local arena we’re far more reliant on a deal of goodwill, honesty and integrity from candidates. Sadly if there were three words that don’t generally characterise independant campaigning they would be these.

How can anyone have a debate with someone who can’t go two minutes without spitting something about ‘Anna Waites Tory boys’ (sic). If a conservative candidate put up blogs like that about a labour or liberal democrat I would personally ask them to take it down and  point out that politicians, as public servants, should conduct themselves with a greater degree of professionalism. I would expect the Labour and LibDem parties to take the same approach.

Anyway, I don’t generally complain about what people have to say about me – it’s not nice but if you’re in politics it comes with the territory – however, I feel this kind behaviour almost reinforces the idea that somehow places like Southend can’t do ‘grown up’ politics. If you were sat in Whitehall or Westminster reading a blog like that would you be persuaded of the benefits of localism and greater autonomy for local authorities? I wouldn’t.

Q. When is an Independent not an Independent?

A. When he’s teamed up with a Lib-Dem!

The so called Independent candidate in St Luke’s has joined forces with last year’s Lib Dem candidate for St Luke’s and SKIPP sympathiser. The stated object to get rid of the sitting ward Cllr Anna Waite.

Whilst I am sure Cllr Longley will disown this collusion, it would not be the first time he has done this. In 2006 the LibDems colluded with an independent and quite probably UKIP and Labour too. This collusion was confirmed to me by Mike Grimwade (LibDem) who said that he disliked the collusion that had taken place and hoped I would not hold it against him!

Independents Demand Higher Parking Charges

Independent Cllrs at Council on Thursday evening demanded that already hard pressed commuters be charged more for car parking. Southend Council has recently increased the parking facility behind Leigh Station and undertaken some environmental improvements and has imposed a charge for all day parking of £1.00 per day to offset these costs, prior to these improvements there was no charge. However, cars parked all over the place and along the narrow road making it dangerous for pedestrians and access was difficult.

There is a large station car park operated by a national chain but the charges there are so high that many commuters cannot afford to park in that car park. The idea that all commuters have vastly well paid City jobs is ridiculous, many do not even go as far as London and I would not want to deter them from using the train or working.  Given the high cost of train travel before 9.30 adding another £25 a week to their bill simply does not encourage train travel or working up the line in low to medium paid work.

I do not approve of squeezing the motorist and tax payer for every last penny, they pay their road taxes, their national taxes and their council tax, why should they be ‘taxed’ yet again for parking to get to work?  Yes we are in difficult economic times and yes all councils including Southend are having to look very closely at budgets, but before we start adding to the cost of getting work let’s at least consider what happens when that cost gets too high resulting in the commuter either moving away or giving up work- as that cost could be far greater to economic prosperity of Southend.

New Hotel for Gas Works site

The echo today has run a story around the proposed new hotel at the Gas Works site which has been empty for many years now. I think everyone concerned would have preferred a 4 star hotel but I fully understand the reasons behind the change to a more basic style of hotel. However, I was amazed to read that Cllr Woodley was bemoaning this change as it was he that spoke so strongly against the adjoining proposals for a mixed use development some years back.

 The development control committee refused the application to the clear joy of Cllr Woodley and the earlier 4 star hotel was lost.

It was clear to many that finding a 4 star hotel to sign up with a derelict site with no valid planning application on the adjoining site was going to be a challenge too far.  Now with a reduced application approved another hotel has shown interest but we are in a recession and the new hotel is not a fully fledged 4 star.

I think its a shame that the earlier more exiting scheme which was praised for its design was refused and that we will now have a fairly basic mixed use development and a fairly basic hotel.

One of the reasons the earlier design was refused was because it was claimed it was too high and had too many flats in it. If we do not build up in a few locations to provide one and two bed apartments for first time buyers and for retirement we will never free up the family homes for families nor be able to house our young people in Southend and due to the demand for apartments prices will remain too high for many.

Independent councillors fail to declare joint corporate interests! Police called into council chamber over protest!

Southend’s Independent Cllrs have failed to declare that they are directors of Independent for Southend Ltd. This is very likely a standards board case as the Register of Members Interests is quite quite clear on these issues and they have been Directors since at least May 2009! So much for Independents being whiter than white- first we learn they are in cahoots with the LibDems, then we get proof in that they have signed Graham Longley’s nomination papers, now we learn they have formed a company that they failed to declare. Really quite poor form from people who take such a holier than thou approach. It also puts lie to this notion that independents are not a ‘party’ truly independent individuals do not form companies together! Oh and I did I mention that a very rattled Cllr Woodley then stomped out  shouting abusive language towards the Nigel Holdcroft, leader of the Council! (to be clearCllr Delaney who was not present at Council and  Dr Vel was not part of this nor a director of their company )

The council was also cleared this evening when a small group of protesters started screeching and throwing leaflets onto the Independent group/party- the irony is of couse that Independent Cllr Woodley supports theses undemocratic protesters. Eventually the Police removed them. Sadly the tribute to a retiring Council Officer was  disrupted but after the small rabble was removed was able to continue. Shame really that such a silly group chose that moment to interrupt a fairwell tribute.

Residents duped as Independent shows his colours- LibDem

Local Independents are backing the LibDem Candidate.  Mr ‘ I’m a Conservative really’  Woodley  has signed Cllr Longley’s  Parliamentary nomination papers as has Cllr Assenheim.  Seaside news first raised this back in February as a distinct possibility but this proves what we have always said – but the Independents have always denied – that there is a coalition plan between the Independents and Lib Dem / Lab to try and take control of Southend Council.

So what does this mean-

  • This proves if Southend people vote Independent, they will actually get Lib Dem / Lab
  • This proves Independents are anything but independent   
  •  The only way to maintain a Better Southend is to vote Conservative on May

Independent plumbs new depths in election dishonesty

Political knockabout is one thing, it is even to be expected and can be a bit of fun in which all parties indulge at election time. The St Luke’s Independent leaflet has taken this too far, however, putting local politics into the gutter. 

In the 10 years since I first became a Councillor I have fought many elections, in all those elections never has a candidate stooped so low as this Independent has.

In Southend the local media should hold the Council to account just as the press does at the national level. This includes challenging all those who stand for election to uphold the claims they make. Politics cannot work when candidates are free to make spurious and unfounded claims without check.

I thought it was worth going through some of the claims made just to illustrate the level of deceit to which unscrupulous candidates can descend. Below I have quoted statements from his leaflet with my comments in bold.

leaflet Van looy 1

Page One

‘At the last election I was the victim of a number of dirty tricks perpetrated by the Conservatives’

This Independent Candidate publicly thanked the Conservative for a clean fight at the announcement of the St Luke’s results.

‘I want to concentrate on the policies and issues’

Yet he has not provided a single policy this year nor did he in 2008. Given that I address just about every point made in this leaflet you can judge the sincerity of his desire to concentrate on the ‘policies and issues’ once you’ve finished reading!

‘Why did the Conservatives dedicate nearly 50% of the content of their last “con sheet” to attacking me and other Independent Councillors?’

Well, either Mr Van Looy is totally incompetent when it comes to converting fractions of a page into percentages or he is prone to very excessive exaggeration. The Conservative leaflet had less than 1/8 of it relating to Independents and never even mentioned Mr Van Looy.

‘The Council is already making plans to accommodate an Independent led administration..’

I asked the Chief Executive if this was true. It is not. It is customary, polite and makes good sense to enquire of party leaders their intentions post election. This is quite specifically not planning to ‘accommodate an independent led administration’

‘I constantly emphasise the word LOCAL throughout my literature because none of your current Councillors live in the immediate area’

Is this the same Mr Van Looy who lived in Rebels Lane (near Barling) until 2008 and who even now does not live in the ward? It is what you do and how you work that counts not just where you live.

‘Despite what the CONservatives keep saying the Independents are not a political party’

Well they have a common website, a leader who takes a leader’s allowance and they claimed the right to a private Independent room in the Civic Suite. Mr Van Looy also claimed a few lines ago that they would hold the balance of power! This is pure semantics, be they group or party, if they aspire to leading the Council post the election they must have found common policies and ideology.

 ‘I pay for my own leaflets unlike the Conservatives who are funded by Lord Ashcroft…..’

Totally incorrect. All our leaflets are paid for by ourselves. Lord Ashcroft does not and never has financed local Councillors in Southend.

leaflet Van Looy 2

Page Two

On this page Mr Van Looy appears to go even further over board with 4 bullet points accusing us of “untruths” on various topics. He is again wrong on every count.

1)    He claims that independents never proposed pitches for travellers.

The independent representative on the regional planning panel supported the proposal for Gypsy and Traveller pitches. Anne Chalk who is standing as an independent also stated that facilities should be provided at Gunners Park  (at the time she may have been have been Labour). Politics requires consensus, as a Tory I can tell you what the party will do if elected. If as an independent he cannot ensure what position fellow independents will take then he can make no guarantees or pledges.

2)    He claims that Independents never wasted Taxpayers money on unfounded claims

In reality they made a raft of false allegations about me and others that were shown to be totally unfounded. In my opinion they were simply motivated out of spite and they cared little for the costs they incurred.

3)    He claims independents never opposed schemes to improve parking.

The Independents have and still do oppose schemes. They opposed the East Beach parking Scheme and the Shoebury Station parking management scheme. If he supports these schemes he has convinced no-one within his ‘group’ and so cannot be assumed to have their support when similar issues come up again.

4)    He claims independents never opposed plans for affordable housing

Independents have opposed planning schemes with substantial affordable housing- they opposed the Carnarvon Road Scheme and the Esplanade House Scheme, despite neither being in their wards.

Then he poses the question-

‘SHOULD YOU VOTE FOR A PARTY SEEKING TO MISLEAD YOU?’

Quite. It’s a  good question and I hope after reading this people will answer in the negative.

Then follows a list of statements that apparently the “CONservatives” have done for Southend

‘Allowed housing waiting list to increase to nearly 6000….’

Sadly the numbers on the housing list have increased during the recession, but that is beyond our control. What we can and have done is to to reduce the numbers on the list as best as possible. We have promoted the town and created jobs with the result that Southend is weathering the recession far better than many towns. Ironically many of the people on the housing list want 2 bed homes but Independents constantly denigrate and oppose 2 bed accommodation.

‘Missed affordable housing targets every year….’

Incorrect we are meeting them. This is despite imposed targets being very difficult to meet in an already built up area.  Remember again it was the Independents who led the opposition to the building of new 2 bed homes.

‘Not created the targeted 6000 jobs…’

The 6000 jobs target is for 2021 – more than 11 years away! As it happens with the new airport and other investments we are well on the way to exceed this goal.

‘Allowed Southend’s roads and pavements to fall apart with a £40m back log’

Nonsense, the figure of £40m is, to my understanding, complete fiction and this administration is putting substantial extra money into the budget to improve our roads and pavements. Heavy snow, ice, frost and rain over the past winter have taken a toll – but we have taken steps to find an extra £400k funding to address the problem. I suggest that Mr Van Looy takes a look outside the Borough where he will find that many roads are far worse than those in Southend.

‘only town the whole of S.E REGION to not subsidise bus routes….(sic)’

Well apart from the fact we are in the East Of England Region not the SE Region we put a not insubstantial £2.5m per year into subsiding bus travel! We put further funding into improving the bus facilities, telematics, etc , we have bid for kick-start funding and seek  ‘106 funding’  whenever possible. I cannot see any basis for his claim.

‘left all our parks unlocked to be vandalised…..’

Hardly. Vandalism has not increased significantly and the cost to the tax payer has not increased as a result.

‘Deliberately allowed York Road Market to be run down and closed’

This is incorrect. The future of York Road Market has been under review for many years, even since before we were in control of the council. This issue has been fully debated and officer’s reports provided. I especially object to the idea that we did this ‘deliberately’, ascribing to us an intention which never existed and for which he has no evidence.

‘Set one of the highest council taxes whilst providing you with the worst possible services’

The Southend Council tax is the second lowest in Essex and of 40 similar authorities. The Council is a 3* authority (which is good) that has been nominated by an independent organisation as being one of the 5 most improved authorities in the country. Our customer services have recently been commended as Excellent, Planning is achieving in the top quartile of authorities, we have blue and green flags for our beaches and parks, the town centre has been awarded for its cleanliness etc. His assertion is simply dreamt up for political advantage.

This diatribe of lies then goes on to personally attack the Conservative Candidate, it makes untrue statements and is quite vicious in its allegations which can be proven to be wrong.

‘She was de-selected’

She was not, she left as her husband was terminally ill and she was very upset by the nasty (similar to being discussed here) rubbish spread about her by the independents and their callous behaviour at the last election. Now bereaved she wants a fresh start and is standing in St Luke’s where she was born, grew up and lived for many years.

‘Rumour has it she only wants to be mayor……………’

Well it’s not a rumour any of us has heard and if we are trading rumours we have a number we could spread about Mr Van Looy, probably with far more substance than this one.

‘She oversaw a large number of schools in special measures….’

She actually saw all our schools out of special measures and excellent GCSE results.

‘She and the Officers wanted to flog-off Cecil Jones lower schools to greedy developers.’

It was never intended nor even discussed that Cecil Jones lower school would be “flogged off” to greedy developers. It was suggested that the School may like to relocate the junior school to the larger site of Thorpe Bay School, they did not and so the matter went no further.  Why would Sally Carr (our candidate) who is a teacher with numerous grandchildren of school age and no personal interest in the matter want to ‘flog off’ schools to developers? What exactly is he trying to suggest of Officers here also?

This kind of campaigning is in many ways responsible for the destruction of trust in our political system. I don’t know whether Mr Van Looy believes what he says and just doesn’t respect the electorate enough to check his facts or whether he is simply an ambivalent friend to honesty. People are obviously entirely entitled to their own opinions and preferences; this is the basis upon which democracy works. However those opinions and preferences cannot be fairly formed on the basis of unsupported assertion. Unchecked it results in disillusion and apathy.

To finish let me leave you with a final ironic quote from Mr Van Looy;

“[The Conservatives] will tell you lots of misleading things throughout this local election in order to try and brainwash you into not voting for me”

I can’t be the only person who feels he’s just projecting his own faults on to others.