Tag Archives: anna waite

That Labour’s local manifesto is un-costed is obvious, so why don’t they just admit it.

As is the way of things Julian* has responded to my post of yesterday where I pointed out the hypocrisy in his criticising another party for failing to cost policies when at the same time Labour are parading their own entirely un-costed manifesto.

If I was wrong in the substance of my comments he could easily have silenced me – by identifying the cost of Labour’s proposals and in turn what he would cut, or how much council tax would rise. He didn’t (I suspect that should read: couldn’t) do this, and so instead chose to obfuscate. Not surprising from the party that ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to put together an alternative budget.

So what does Julian have to say, well…

Firstly he denies ever proposing to purchase properties in Victoria Avenue. Well maybe He personally didn’t say that, but the labour manifesto does commit the party to

take tough action on derelict properties, including those on Victoria Avenue which are a hazard and an eyesore”

The way that councils would be able to achieve that outcome would be to (compulsorily) buy up the properties. Of course you could try talking to landlords (done that) or alternatively giving some sort of planning permission that creates an incentive for development (eg. high rise flats). The problem is the first solution has been tried (repeatedly) and failed, while the second would bring with it plenty of objections from local residents and labour supporters.

Secondly he refers to Labour’s un-costed proposal for an additional primary school. The conservatives are already providing a new primary in Shoebury, to replace Hinguar school and create more space for pupils. We have completely costed and resourced that scheme which is already under-way. If Labour are claiming to be able to provide an additional school over and above that which the Conservatives are proposing then they need to provide the details for where it will be funded from, if they are not proposing anything beyond the Conservatives then they must make that clear in their manifesto.

Thirdly he says, in essence, that other Labour spending pledges are of very small value and therefore don’t need costing. Remember the money involved in supporting Gay pride events, alley gating and street lighting were just a couple of examples of Labour’s unfunded spending plans. Put those together with other examples and it is by no means quite the small fry Julian imagines.

Compared to the £400+ million budget the council enjoys it may not seem much, but discretionary spending is a far smaller portion of that amount. It seems awfully lazy (and maybe a bit odd?) to go around criticising others for not costing pledges and then say that their own spending plans are so marginal they don’t need to bother working out the expense.

Fourthly Julian mentions trees. Let me be clear, Southend currently plants a lot of trees. Mostly these are not that expensive, while a few are rather pricey. Planting large tree’s (irrespective of origin) is unfortunately expensive. I think the Palm tree’s have been quite a success and recall that back when we originally discussed putting in trees along the seafront people were really keen on having Palm trees. If Labour plans to plant more tree’s then I’d like to know what trees, where and at what cost.

Julian then complains about litter and fly tipping in Southend. I agree litter and fly tipping is wrong, it is a blight and that is why we have to put a stop to it. We already have a team of street inspectors and are one of the cleanest towns in the country, but of course more could be done. I was a councillor for 10 years and didn’t hear a single idea from Julian, or any Labour councillor, on additional things we should do about this. Rather than moaning why don’t they actually put forward their suggestions.

The truth is Labour’s manifesto is poorly conceived, filled with griping about issues which bear no relation to local government, demonstrates a poor understanding of how the council operates and in the rare occasions it does make tangible proposals fails to explain where the funding will come from.

– While writing this is an idea did occur to me. To kill two birds with one stone perhaps we could support a free school in purchasing a property in Victoria Avenue, improving the street and increasing the number of primary places at a stroke. This would definitely need some thought, consideration and before being proposed in a manifesto – some costings!

  • I am sorry that I spelled your name wrong and that I forgot to link to you. That wasn’t done on purpose and I will update the post to reflect that. In truth yours is perhaps one of the more reasoned opposition blogs that I read, which is why I chose to respond (Of course given some of the competition you might not feel that is too much of a compliment).
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When The Pot Calls The Kettle Black

There is an interesting post on the blog of Julian Ware-Lane, Julian’s Musings. Julian is a Labour Candidate in the upcoming elections and blogs regularly on many issues.

Today, however, he has chosen to take a pop at a Green Party Candidate for uncosted pledges.  He states-

‘Competence is critical, and unfunded promises are not a sign of competence.

To increase safe cycle paths, to want cheap and available public transport, to introduce more traffic calming, to provide low cost loans for insulation – these must all be paid for. I am afraid the Green reputation for pie-in-the-sky politics will not be dispelled by this leaflet.’

Well I suggest that you should take a look at the local  Labour manifesto with fresh eyes Julian.

Here are just few of the uncosted policies-

‘The council needs to take tough action on derelict properties, including those on Victoria Avenue which are a hazard and an eyesore. We will use powers to clean up properties left in a poor state.’

A great pledge but buying up Victoria Ave is costly and the Council already has an enviable record around smaller derelict properties

‘We have been calling for a new primary school for a number of years.’

Very expensive and what’s that that is being built in Shoebury….why, it’s a new primary school!

‘If the local gay community would like a Pride event then we will support this.’

‘We will seek to improve street lighting and support council funding for alley-gating.’

‘We also support the provision of more public toilets and benches.’

All these need money so where will it come from or will council Tax go up ?

‘We want a greener town and are committed to preserving our green spaces. We will plant more native trees and look to plant pollinator-friendly plants in the display beds and borders.’

Southend already plants many trees many of which are native, where will the money come from for more…..Council Tax increases?

‘We want Southend to have cleaner streets.’

Who doesn’t?  It’s a bit like apple pie and mother hood as is much of the rest of the manifesto, much of it uncosted and costly.

It’s a Purple Flag for Southend !

Great news another flag for Southend and it’s the first purple flag in Essex. Well Done the Police and Town Centre Partnership.

Southend has a new flag to add to its impressive haul of five blue and four green ones – a PURPLE flag.

Purple Flag is a new accreditation scheme which recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night. just as Blue Flags are a guarantee of good beaches, Purple Flags act as an indicator of where to go for a good night out.

The standard is only awarded to entertainment areas which are judged to have met a strict set of criteria.

To date only 25 Purple Flags have been awarded but today (Wednesday 25th April) the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) has announced five new recipients.

They include Southend’s High Street and Sea Front, the first area in Essex to have its night-time economy recognised.

In awarding the Purple Flag the ATCM rated Southend as ‘above standard’ in two of the five judging criteria – ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘A Broad Appeal’.

Yet another Accolade for Southend

The Low Carbon Business Programme – paid for by the European Regional Development Fund and involving nine partners across Thames Gateway including Southend-on-Sea Borough Council – has been named Britain’s top New Energy Champion of the Year.

This innovative programme helps small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) reduce their carbon footprint thereby making them more competitive.

The scheme has so far assisted 92 such businesses in Southend, and given them the funds to hire a total of 60 apprentices.

This scheme is yet another example of how the Conservative led Council is using all options to improve Southend. It follows on from other EU funding grants such as the match funding for North Road Chapel renovations, the recently announced EU funding to improve local homes, the improved access to the Victorias are but a few examples.

Carrots not Sticks!

The new MiTo, where less is certainly more, caught my eye and it set me thinking when the Alfa Romeo magazine, full of fancy photography and cars in clever settings, landed on my doormat this week.

Whilst I have always encouraged the development of policies that promote alternative fuels and low pollution vehicles I had not realised quite how far the petrol engine had come! So a few minutes on the internet revealed that Alfa are not alone in their 67mpg low emission, clean car. Other more mainstream manufacturers are now producing similar engines for vehicles bigger than a Fiat 500!

I have never believed that people will be forced from their cars onto buses or trains or that Labour’s ridiculous parking policies would ever do more than cause problems.

Sticks are not the answer, nor is reducing parking in new developments to zero in the false belief that if you do not have an off road parking space you will not have a car, nor are punitive parking charges at stations etc. nor is the anti-car rhetoric so beloved of some.

What we should be concentrating on are the carrots- free parking in council car parks for vehicles that are both tax band A and London Congestion Charge exempt, free or reduced resident on street parking permits for these cars, more and cheaper parking at stations to encourage greater use of the train, Councils leading by example through incentives to staff who opt for high mpg and low emission vehicles, perhaps even a Government tax incentive on their purchase and I am sure there are plenty of other ideas that could be developed.

Southend is already one of the cleanest towns, let’s keep it that way, let’s actually encourage people to buy cleaner, greener cars, to use the trains, to cycle more and take the bus occasionally. That way it will also be more pleasant to walk and you never know we may all be healthier too!

The Alfa MiTo Twinair Engine has won for major awards and is available from April, I quite fancy one …….

 

Drug Dealers Should Face Eviction

South Essex Homes Should evict these people if found guilty.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and South Essex Homes fully support the drugs enforcement action undertaken by Essex Police today.

Some of the addresses targeted following the execution of warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act are Council properties managed by South Essex Homes.

Possession proceedings which could ultimately lead to eviction will be commenced against any tenants found to have been in breach of their tenancy conditions as a result of police action.

Both the Council and South Essex Homes continue to build on their positive partnership work with the police and will take rigorous action where homes have been used for illegal activities.

South Essex Homes to get powers to deal with ASB

Just taking names and addresses is not sufficient,(echo article) those that behave in an anti social manner that seriously disrupts or disturbs the other residents should be dealt with more severely, one warning then if it recurrs their tenancy should be reviewed. If underage then the parents should be held responsible. (If you are deemed to have made yourself homeless due to ASB etc the Council does not have the same obligations to rehome as it does due to no fault homelessness)

A few examples of ASB that residents have raised with me in the past-

Having dogs on an upper floor in a tower block- then letting them pee and poo in the lift or on the stairs as they are too desperate to wait until outside.

Allowing dogs to persistently foul the small communal gardens of a block of flats.

Drug dealing/taking- you can smell drugs in the communal areas of some Tower Blocks. This can be especially worrying when dealers target young mums who are vulnerable.

Throwing rubbish out of windows- this is clearly dangerous and results in the areas looking a mess. This ranges from large items of furniture to food waste and dirty nappies!

Use of an air rifle from a bedroom window. Recurrent offence.

Use of comunal areas by kids for smoking, drinking etc- has resulted in forced doors to gain access and even fires.

The above are just some of the ASB issues that SEH residents have had to put up with.

If we are to pursue the rogue private landlord (and we should) who allows their tenants to persist in ASB or their properties to be in disrepair, through selective licensing then equally firm action needs to be taken with SEH and be seen to have been taken.

Echo article

 

Rogue Landlords Take Note!

 A private landlord has been fined for failing to repair his property and leaving his tenants to suffer damp, draughty and hazardous conditions for two years!

If we are ever to turn around our housing in the borough the council really must take action such as this each and every time it comes to light. It is also essential that when a resident moves from the private scetor into the council sector that the property from whence they came is inspected. This is because one of the main critria for getting  council property is overcrowding and poor conditions and if the council does follow up on this then the next private tenant may be in a similar position.  For more details on the case please see below-

Terry Frost, of Cotswold Road, Westcliff, had denied failing to comply with an Improvement Notice issued under the Housing Act 2004, but he was found guilty when he appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Monday 26th September. Frost was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Conservative  Councillor for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing, Lesley Salter, said:

“We have many good landlords in the borough and we are trying to encourage those who don’t presently meet the standards we require to manage their properties more effectively.

“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any landlord who shows a cavalier attitude towards their legal responsibilities.”

The court heard how Southend Council had tried repeatedly to deal with the matter informally before finally serving the Improvement Notice in December 2010. This listed a series of repairs required to bring the property up to the appropriate standard and allowed several months for the works to be completed. They included renewing defective windows, refurbishing the kitchen, improving security, work to minimise dampness and tackling a mouse infestation.

The Council was forced to prosecute after a re-inspection of the property revealed most of the repairs were still outstanding, even though the Notice period had expired. In addition to being fined Frost remains responsible for ensuring that all the works required are completed.

Essex Police Update on Riots

This email is sent on
behalf of Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson

Following on from the violent disorder seen across London and in cities across
the UK, I wanted to write to you with some reassurance on the situation in Essex. We have sought to keep our communities informed and yesterday put out a strong message to the public via our website and twitter, as well as through the media.

We have seen no violent disorder in Essex akin to what has been
happening in larger cities across the country. Where there has been minor
disorder, Essex Police has acted quickly to make arrests. On Monday following a
burglary in Buckhurst Hill, 13 men were arrested, and following minor damage to a police vehicle in Loughton, two male youths were arrested. In Harlow, four people were arrested for minor damage in the town centre.  We have seen a number of young people gathering in large groups in various places across the county, but Essex Police has taken immediate action by deploying public order officers to disperse such groups. This early intervention has meant we have not seen any large scale disorder.

Last night (Tuesday) Police officers arrested a 17-year-old man from Clacton for incitement to commit violent disorder after comments were published on facebook encouraging people to gather at a location in Essex and cause
disorder.  The man remains in police custody. We also arrested two
teenagers from Grays and South Ockendon, for
sing social networking websites for incitement to commit violent
disorder.  Essex Police is monitoring social media and will not tolerate
anyone who uses the internet or any electronic communication device to send
inaccurate and false messages intending to incite disorder, or cause alarm.

Essex Police has a robust plan in place and is utilising additional resources by calling officers and staff in to work on their rest days. We have been providing support to colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service. We currently have between 50 – 100 officers in London at any one time from within our establishment of over 3000 police officers, over 400 PCSOs and several hundred Special Constables.

Your support is important to us. When you are speaking to the public please help us by reassuring them that Neighbourhood Policing teams remain in place across Essex and Police Officers, PCSOs and Special Constables are working in communities to ensure a high visibility policing presence. Essex Police is doing all it can to ensure Essex remains a safe place to live and
work and will continue to work with partners across the criminal justice system
to ensure that any criminality is dealt with swiftly and robustly.

You can also assist the police by encouraging the public to call 999 if they witness any incidents taking place or to call our non emergency number 101 or 0300 333 4444 to pass on information or intelligence.

We are updating our website with the latest information in Essex
throughout the day and night, so this is the best place to look for updates
should the situation change. http://essex.police.uk

Thank you for your continued support and please get in touch if you have any further questions or comments.

Yours faithfully

Derek Benson

Deputy Chief Constable

Progress Road Junction Improvements Win Top Award

The Progress Road junction has just clinched a major award from Local Government News. (LGN) .The successful scheme won the “Highway” category of the LGN‟s Street Design 2011 Awards.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers that worked so hard to deliver what we asked for- on time and on budget and especially Paul Matheison and Karen Gearing who not only played a major role in delivering this project but also gave me immense support in the process.  Thank You and Well Done, you deservbe this award.

Progress Road junction is part of the Better Southend initiative, launched to help to make the borough a better place for residents, visitors and businesses to live, rest and work.

The LGN judges recognised how significantly the new Progress Road scheme was reducing traffic queues and delays at the junction, adding: ‘The work has provided local and national benefits and was completed on a tight budget.’

‘The infrastructure improvements achieved during the scheme will also enable further regeneration work to be carried out in the area.’

The new Progress Road junction provides additional lanes on both carriageways of the A127, allowing traffic to flow through the area more easily.

The £5m scheme, was delivered on time and on budget, and was funded by grants from the Homes & Communities Agency and from the Council‟ Capital Budget.