Tag Archives: Conservatives

Art Council sits on Hoard of Art- updated

According to the Sunday Times the Arts Council has aquired a £60m arts stash. Leaving aside the whys and wherefores of their collecting all of this, lets just start to put the situation right. They have started to put the art on line (at a cost of £45k) and they say the art is available on loan. Now Southend has long wanted to improve its cultural offering and has in the past gone to the Arts Quango for funding but with relatively limited success. I don’t really care if Southend owns the art or has it on loan, indeed on loan might be better as every so often it could be changed. I can think of several places for a Sculpture or two and I am sure the Beecroft would like a rotation of art pieces. This would encourage more visitors to the town, give residents the opportunity to view special pieces that  have been bought through the tax payer and which currently are not too easy to view.

UPDATE

Southend Council officers have sent for details! But say insurance may be a problem- Why?  Hundreds of towns have works of art on display, it’s a question of getting some insurance…….

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Elton John and Southend?

So Sir Elton wants to give his photography collection to the nation ( Friday’s One show) but says we do not have a photographic museum in this country, he went on to say that he would like to display all his objects to tell his story.

Well could Southend come to his rescue? We are designing and new museum, is it beyond our architects to incorporate a photographic section, might we find some room for his art collection and paraphernalia as well?  In return would Sir Elton part fund our new museum? These are questions I think worth exploring so once I have some answers I will post them and I would to know if you agree with me!

The Comprehensive Spending Review

No doubt tomorrow’s papers will be full of the various scenarios for differing types of families, personally I think we need to wait to see the fine print, but in so far as I can see in respect of my resposibilities – Health, Adult Social Care and Housing, its not as bad as I had feared.  Over the past few months we have considered various depths of  savings and how we might best achieve these with the least impact on residents. Now at last we stop the guess work and actually start to plan with the real figures.

If you have any suggestions on what should be sacrisanct, what could be done better and what we could reduce,  now would be an ideal time to let me know so that your  views can be considered.

Common Sense at Last

Some interesting reading-

  • Eric Pickles gets it right this time –

“By ending the weekly collection, Labour has doubled the country’s rat population. We are only 20ft away from a rat any time.”

  • George Osborne agrees benefits overhaul link here
  • Lord Young talks to Sky News about his plan to tackle Britain’s health and safety culture link here
  • Gove scraps “no touch rule” as part of crackdown on classroom discipline  link here
  • Philip Hammond to stop M4 bus lane and announces that the war on the motorist must stop link here
  • Andrew Lansley announces immediate £50m cancer drugs fund

Improving Sheltered Accommodation

Keeping the elderly independent for longer is the aim of the report that was accepted by scrutiny last night. Southend has a number of sheltered accommodation units (over 1000) but many were built some years ago and are not particularly user friendly for those that may become frail or infirm. The report outlines how the council will refurbish certain units, in some cases turning 2 into 1 to provide better and in the main part DDA compliant accommodation. Sheltered homes provide residents with their own front door and independence whilst giving the reassurance that help is at hand should they need it. For many this is an ideal step from completely independent living and with DDA compliant showers etc it is hoped that more residents can stay in these homes for longer. Southend Council is working hard to allow residents to make choices about where and how they live, viewing a full care home as the last of a series of choices.

What Conservatives Stand For

1. Act now on debt to get the economy moving- Deal with the deficit more quickly than Labour so that mortgage rates stay lower for longer with the Conservatives.

2.Get Britain working by boosting enterprise -Cut corporation tax rates, abolish taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses, promote green jobs, and get people off welfare and into work.

3. Make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe– Freeze council tax and raise the basic state pension, recognise marriage in the tax system and back couples in the benefits system, support young families with extra health visitors, and fight back against crime.

 4. Back the NHS– Increase spending on health every year, and make the NHS work for patients not managers. Freeze council tax and raise the basic state pension, recognise marriage in the tax system and back couples in the benefits system, support young families with extra health visitors, and fight back against crime.

5. Raise standards in schools – Give teachers the power to restore discipline, and create new smaller schools.

6. Change politics -Reduce the number of MPs, cut Whitehall and quangos by a third, and let taxpayers see where their money is being spent.

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.

East Beach gets ready for Summer

East Beach is looking good! 

 Newly planted trees and new picnic benches are now in place and loads of surplas bollards have been removed to give East Beach a more natural feel.

 Cyclists have a car free way for most of the East Beach section as cars are now restricted to the carpark which also significantly improves safety for all East Beach users. So what’s left to do before Summer, a few signs to go up, a coat of paint on the entrance and a BBQ facility.

The Conservative led Council has put in place a scheme to improve East Beach and to prevent antisocial behaviour, followiung complaints from local residents. Local independents objected to the scheme as they did not want traffic removed from the small lane and the cars contained in a car park. Overall the scheme  includes improvements to the car park, significant tree and shrub planting, the removal of humps on the old lane to facilitate cyclists, new picnic seating and BBQ facilities.