Showing posts with label Rochford DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rochford DC. Show all posts

Sunday, May 08, 2011

In Deep Blue Rochford

Rochford District has been one of the bluest councils in England in recent years - before election day the Tories had 31 seats, we had 5 , the Greens had 1 and the Rochford District Residents Party had 1, with 1 vacancy in Hullbridge.

It was very much an election for us to focus on defense, as we had elections in all 3 wards where we had councillors....

The end result was that we lost one seat (Sweyne Park) where we were defending a majority of just 30. But we held our other wards (Downhall and Rawreth, and Grange) with over 73% of the vote in straight fights with the Conservatives.

So although it's disappointing to have lost in Sweyne Park, we still have a very solid base for the future. And we've found new helpers, a new candidate and a new agent , so it's not all doom and gloom.

Elsewhere in the District, the expected Green challenge faltered in a couple of Tory wards, but Christine Mason for the Rochford District Residents Party won Hawkwell West, so that Christine and her husband John are now an official party group, and we will be sitting next to them in the council chamber.

The Council is now 31 Tories, 4 Lib Dems, 2 Rochford District Residents and 1 Green, with one vacancy.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Missing Majority

Rochford District Council is very blue. We have 32 Tories, 5 Lib Dems, 1 Green and 1 Rochford Residents Party councillor. So we don't win many votes....

But it was a slightly bizarre evening tonight.

Our Standards Committee consists of 4 Tory District Councillors, 1 Lib Dem District Councillor (myself), plus a number of parish councillors and independent members.

Tonight none of the Tories turned up!

For the first time in ten years our party outnumbered the Conservatives in an official council committee (albeit by one to nil).

Everything went very smoothly and we made some useful decisions...

Actually poor attendance by the Conservatives is becoming a trend here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Say Something Nice About The Coalition? Our Tories Vote Against

On Rochford District Council we have a pretty oppressive form of the cabinet system - if you aren't one of the eight Tory cabinet members, you can never ever speak at a cabinet meeting , even if it affects your ward.

So the Lib Dems were pleased to see that the coalition are going to give councils the chance to go back to a committee system, and two of us put forward the following motion:


‘That this Council welcomes the statement by the Liberal Conservative Coalition Government that they will allow Councils to return to the committee system, should they wish to.’


This was treated by horror by the Conservative leadership. Clearly any hint from us that the cabinet system isn't perfect hit a extremely raw nerve. As a result they voted as a block against a motion praising their own national party.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Third Place.....

Wheatley Ward on Rochford District Council is a real Conservative stronghold - when the seat was contested in May, only the Tories and English Democrats actually stood.

Following the sad death of Conservative ward councillor John Pullen, we've just had a by-election, in which the Lib Dems and Labour dipped their toe into the electoral waters here. However the result was, as expected , a Conservative hold:

Aron Priest Conservative 417 61.0% (down 7.8% since previous election)
John Hayter English Democrats 142 20.7% (down 10.4%)
Sid Cumberland Liberal Democrats 78 11.4% (up 11.4%)
David Bodimeade Labour 47 6.9% (up 6.9%)

Turn out this time was 21.3 %

Saturday, May 08, 2010

News From A Blue Heartland

Down in deepest, bluest Rayleigh and Wickford , our Tory MP Mark Francois was swept back to Westminster with 57 percent of the vote and a majority of over 22000. And I wish him well - by the way, he doesn't seem to have the same right-wing reputation in Rayleigh that he seems to have outside the constituency.

It was really good to see Susan Gaszczak win 2nd place for us by a few hundred votes, pushing the affable Labour guy Mike Lesurf into third. Thanls, Susan....

The ten or twelve BNP supporters who came to the count left 90 minutes before the declaration, where they came sixth (behind the English Democrats and UKIP) and lost their deposit.

Incidentally, we have a very cosmopolitan set of names for candidates down here in Rayleigh - a Conservative with the middle name "Gino",Lib Dem with the surname "Gaszczak", Labour with the surname "LeSurf" and even a UKIP candidate with the first name "Tino". You could almost understand why the English Democrat candidate, Mr Hayter, thinks the way he does...

Next door in Castle Point, Brendan D'Cruz stood at very short notice and did a good job for us... he's definitely a guy to watch out for in the future. Spasibo Brendan!

Meanwhile in the Rochford district council elections we had to husband our resources carefully, so only put up 5 candidates.

But the results were gratifying - where we were challenging the Tories we improved our position and had three second places.

And the Tory attempts to take advantage of the general election high turn-out to wipe out the three defending non-Tories failed miserably.

Independent John Mason fought off a charmless Tory onslaught in Hawkwell West to win by over a hundred.

My Lib Dem colleague Chris Lumley, despite being ill during the campaign, won by 485.

And in Downhall and Rawreth - where Mark Francois is a resident - I won by 1846 to 770. With a turn-out of 71.4 percent, it seems that just over 50 percent of the ward electorate voted for me, which is a good mandate to take into the council chamber.


Finally, the Tories got punished in Hullbridge for poor performance on local issues, and having a candidate who lived in Hockley and is a parish councillor there. End result - the Greens get their first councillor on the District!

There's a lot to look forward to....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Memory of Richard Vingoe

Past members of Rochford District Council will have warm memories of Richard Vingoe, who was a district councillor here until 2002. He led the small Hockley Residents Association group, who were influential on the council in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Richard sadly died last week at the age of 59, and we had a minutes silence for him at Thursday's council meeting.

He was dedicated and honest, good company to be with, and an admirable role model for anyone wanting to serve their community. I'm so sorry I'll never see him again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conservatives Lose Fourth Essex Councillor In A Week

This time it's from the District Council that I'm on - Rochford.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I lose - secretly

So we had a secret ballot tonight to elect the vice-chairman of the West Area Committee. I lost the vote 10-5 , with voting purely on party lines....

Never mind, it was quite a good meeting overall...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Do you have secret ballots on your council?

I'm going be a tiny bit excited at about 7.30 on Wednesday night. We have the first ever meeting of our district's West Area Committee.....

(For Rochford exiles like Trevor Powell, I should explain that we now have a cabinet system with 3 area committees to hopefully enhance local democracy. The 5 Lib Dems on Rochford DC all represent Rayleigh wards, so we are all on the West committee, with 11 Tories.)

Now all the area committee chairs were elected at annual council - by secret ballot , a process I've not seen at council meetings before. One of the first items of business on Wednesday will be the election of a vice-chairman, and bless my soul, one of my colleagues wanted to nominate me. So now I'm in a secret ballot against an interesting and slightly untypical Conservative Councillor Simon Smith .

If voting goes on party lines I'm sure to lose 11-5....

But I've never heard of secret ballots at other council chambers to elect chairs- or to decide anything else. Do you have them in your area?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mainly for Trevor...

It's been a great day for us in Rochford.

After a few years of feeling like hunted, small, endangered , furry mammals, we're finally starting to hit back. We easily defended two seats (getting 73- 74 percent of the vote), and then wonderfully gained an extra seat, defeating the Tories by just 30 votes.(This was in Sweyne Park in the west of Rayleigh) This was no fluke - a years preparation, an excellent candidate, and a lot of hard work...

We are now a group of five - nothing much to boast about. But the endangered furry animals are feeling more confident, and the Tories are starting to look like dinosaurs - and you know who won that contest.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Age and Being a Councillor

Age is a funny thing. I'm 48 now, but I don't think I feel different inside to the 38 year old me, or indeed 28 year old me.

I'm sure that part of this is due to being a councillor. For quite a while I was the youngest in the Lib Dem group (and indeed got some invaluable help and advice from my older colleagues on such things as driving lessons, buying a car, buying a flat, and even that biggest decision of my life, a marriage proposal.) I'm still one of the younger councillors on Rochford District , and sometimes feel like a sort of official council 'Nephew' whose enthusiasm is appreciated , rather than the 'Leader of the Opposition'

I've been a councillor now for 23 years. As the years roll by, babies have become voters, young dads get grey hair, and active pensioners became frailer and aren't there to open the front door any more....

But I don't look in the mirror very much. And somehow I've felt untouched by Anno Domini when I'm doing council activities - at least until this week. When I heard that someone had voted Lib Dem because I had been at school with her uncle, it finally came home to me that I wasn't the 'young' councillor any more....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fears in the Kingdom

More worries for the Conservatives in Essex.

The Echo newspaper has a copy of a memo sent out by the Chair of Rochford and Southend East Tories:

CONSERVATIVES must fight to avoid the "shame" of losing the second leader in two years at next week's elections, a leading activist says.

Catrina Lambert, chairman of Rochford and Southend East Tories, has sent out a stark warning to grassroots members warning three key seats could be lost next Thursday.

In the memo leaked to the Echo, Mrs Lambert admits council leader Murray Foster's seat is at risk in Prittlewell ward where ex-Echo columnist and BBC journalist Ric Morgan is standing for the Lib Dems.

Last year, council leader Anna Waite was ousted by the Lib Dems in the same ward.

Mrs Lambert says: "The priorities are now...to protect the leader, not only because Murray Foster is the right man for the job but because the shame of losing a second leader in two years would cause shockwaves across the whole borough."

Whilst in little old Rochford District:

The memo also reveals concerns about the future of Richard Amner, former Rochford District Council chairman, in his Barling and Sutton seat. He is facing opposition from Independent Robin Allen.

Mrs Lambert wrote: "A loss of this seat, where there are only 700 dwellings, would be seen as a disaster, even though there is a Conservative majority of 29 on Rochford council."

What also struck me was this bit:

Other Tory seats under threat are Shoeburyness and Thorpe ward. Mrs Lambert wrote in the memo it was essential to protect Thorpe, where new candidate Nigel Folkard had been "working 24/7 for the past few weeks".

Blimey. He's working 24/7 ? Seems like that's trying a bit too hard. I mean , can you imagine it:

Thorpe Bay, 3 a.m.

Tory: Good morning. Sorry for waking you up. I'm your Conservative Candidate and I wondered if we can count on your support?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Help - I Lead The Cult Of Skaro




With a slightly giddy feeling I've just realised what Daleks In Manhattan is really all about. The clue is that there are only four of them - four forlorn individuals. Their leader says "If we are SUPERIOR, Why are we not VICTORIOUS"

It's obviously a metaphor for the Lib Dem councillors on Rochford DC. There are only 4 of us. The crowded skyline of New York represents the overdevelopment of Rayleigh. The art deco elevators in the Empire State building symbolise the new lifts in the Rayleigh Civic Suite..... and the blackness of Dalek Sec is obviously because I'm the group leader and my name is Black...

The only way I can break out of this metaphor is to increase our numbers in the council chamber....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Former Tory Leader Blasts His "Lazy" Colleagues

Rochford District Council is overwhelmingly Tory - they have 34 seats out of 39, we have just 4. One of the elder statesmen of the Tory group is Peter Webster, and what he says in tonights local paper, the Echo, has shocked me by its frankness:

Tory raps 'lazy councillors'

A FORMER council leader has claimed his own colleagues are more concerned with their allowances than working for their constituents.

Tory Rochford district councillor Peter Webster launched an astonishing attack on his fellow members who, he claimed, were "too lazy" to fill in a questionnaire about how the authority worked.

The questionnaire was sent to all of the 39 councillors, asking for their views on the workings of the review committee during its first year of operation.

However, only 22 members replied to the questions posed, even though they did not have to give their names.

Mr Webster, who was the council chairman last year and previously led the controlling Tory group, told the committee: "Quite frankly, I feel this is a damning indictment on some members of the council.

"It seems to me that all they are interested in is the amount of money they get at the end of each month."

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Webster said the workload on some councillors was becoming heavier and heavier, especially with the Government demanding the council takes on more responsibility.

He added: "But it is a fact there are others who are doing very little, either to contribute to the working of the council or to look after the interests of their constituents."

He would not name any member but said: "They know who they are and they could easily lose their seats if there was strong opposition".

Mr Webster's wife, Mavis, is currently the chairman of the district council and also serves as a Rayleigh county councillor.

Chris Black, leader of the minority Liberal Democrat group on the council, said: "When you get a party with a massive majority on any council you will have a few who do very little, which is not fair to their constituents or to the members of the minority party.

"I would add there are some Rochford district councillors who aren't even known in their own wards."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Friends Reunited

This interweb thingy is marvellous for making contact with long lost Lib Dem friends. Last year one of my former colleagues on Rochford DC, Trevor Powell, said hello to me from his B & B in the Scottish Highlands.

I've now heard from Pam Godsell, a former Lib Dem Councillor in Rayleigh, who is now living in Knaresborough and is a Town Councillor there (and former Mayor!).

And Pam has received the ultimate honour - she is in Wikipedia!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mostly for Trevor's Benefit

So it's election time again in Rochford District , where the current make-up is 34 Tories, 4 Lib Dems and 1 independent/local party chap. There are 26 candidates this time standing in the 13 seats up for election.

The Conservatives keep their position controlling the council - to begin with, 4 of their councillors have been elected unopposed. But there are going to be some interesting contests in some of the other wards:

Ashingdon and Canewdon - Sitting Tory councillor Tracy Capon faces Andrew Vaughan (Green Party). Mr Vaughan stood in 2004 and lost by more than 300 here. But this time Labour aren’t standing, so the result could be rather closer…

Barling And Sutton. This is the most interesting election of the lot. Sitting Tory Councillor Richard Amner (Tory) faces Independent Robin Allen, who used to be a councillor here. Very difficult to predict how this one will go unless you live in this rural ward - lair of the Barling Bomber - and know the mood on the doorstep. How much impact will the Southend United Stadium application have?

Downhall and Rawreth . Sitting Lib Dem Councillor Ron Oatham faces Tory Roland Adams. Hopefully Ron will win… we got 73 percent of the vote last year.

Foulness and Great Wakering The shock here is that Labour aren’t standing in what used to be a strong area for them. Colin Seagers, the sitting Tory councillor, is re-elected without a contest.

Grange Ward (Rayleigh) Sitting Lib Dem Councillor June Lumley faces David Withers (Conservative). June deserves to be re-elected after the hard work she’s put in over the last 4 years. We got 66 percent of the vote last year. But can she beat off the the Tory political machine?

Hawkwell North. Lucy Cox is a new Tory candidate who lives in Little Wakering, replacing Maureen Starke who is stepping down. And Lucy is the only candidate here, so she is elected unopposed.

Hawkwell South. Sitting Tory Councillor Phil Capon is re-elected unopposed. So he has time to help his wife Tracy in Ashingdon…

Hawkwell West Sitting Tory Councillor Derek Stainsby faces experienced Labour campaigner Myra Weir.

Hockley Central Sitting Tory Councillor Keith Hudson is re-elected unopposed .

Hullbridge . A four-cornered contest . Sitting Tory Councillor Lesley Butcher faces Angelina Marriott (Labour ) Robin Hume (Green Party) and Robert Green (BNP). The rumours that the BNP were standing here have come true, although the fact that their candidate lives far way in Great Wakering won’t help them.

Lodge Ward, Rayleigh. Another four cornered contest. Sitting Tory Terry Livings faces Pat Putt (Lib Dem), Neil Kirsh (Green ) and Paula Hayter (English Democrats). Impossible to tell who’s going to win here. Mrs Hayter’s disadvantage is that not many people have even heard of the English Democrats. There’s a possible Lib Dem win here.

Rochford - A straight contest between sitting Tory councillor Sue Harper and David Lench for Labour. After the Tory victory last year you would expect them to win again…

Sweyne Park (Rayleigh) - This is a ward wedged between the 2 Lib Dem wards. Sitting Tory Peter Savill faces Liberal Democrat campaigner Jackie Dillnutt. The local Conservatives must be feeling a little anxious, they won by less than 200 last time. And this time Labour aren’t standing to split the anti-Tory vote.

So overall the Tories are looking strong but a little over-stretched, Labour are still in decline, the Hockley Residents and Hawkwell residents don’t have any candidates at all at district level and the Greens are standing in just 3 seats.

And what about us in the Lib Dems? To an outsider, having only 4 candidates seems pretty meagre. I've got to admit I feel pretty Ealing comedy compared with what Lib Dems do in other areas. But we are slowly regaining our strength in Rayleigh, though not having any candidates elsewhere is a great pity. And next year we don't have any seats to defend...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Go negative on the Lib Dem candidate from day one. Trawl through the candidate's record. Don't worry about being unfair...."

"Go negative on the Lib Dem candidate from day one. Trawl through the candidate's record. Don't worry about being unfair. Labour were wildly unfair in Hartlepool and it still served them well. "

- apparently written by Conservative activist Sean Fear, on the Conservative Home Diary yesterday. So much for the moral high ground.

I think everyone generally prefers positive campaigns. This year in our ward, we wrote about out Tory opponent "We’ve known ..... for many years and we wish him well (but we don’t want him to win!)". It worked well for us ....

On the other hand , there are things you want to say about opponents that you can't put in a leaflet. In May one of our helpers spent an hour on telling duty sitting next to a Conservative councillor. Afterwards she walked away amazed, saying to me "WHO is that ARROGANT man?". End result is that she's motivated now to seriously campaign in a ward for the next two years.

Friday, May 05, 2006

News from Rochford - we make no gains, but hold our seats with increased majorities

Election news:

We're pretty pleased with the election results in Rayleigh.

  • Chris Black and Chris Lumley both held their seats with increased majorities.


  • This was particularly good for Chris Lumley because the Tories tried very hard to defeat him, bringing in Tories from other parts of Rayleigh to canvass against him.

  • Elsewhere in Rayleigh, Pat Putt, Jackie Dillnutt, Keith Budden and Mark Pearson all came second. Jackie got 411 votes, which was the highest of any losing candidate in Rayleigh.

  • We are extremely grateful to them for standing, and of course we'd like to thank all our helpers and indeed everyone who voted for us.


  • In other parts of the district, the Tories made two gains. They won Hawkwell South simply because independent Heather Glynn has joined the Conservative Party. They also won in Rochford, with 24 year-old James Cottis defeating the last remaining Labour councillor, popular Maureen Vince, by 95 votes. However Residents' councillor James Mason defiantly held on to Hawkwell West with a majority of 132.


    Full results are available from the District Council website but here are the results for where the Lib Dems stood:


    Downhall & Rawreth Ward
    Christopher Ian Black Liberal Democrats 900
    Victor Charles Howlett Conservative 328
    Turnout: 37.6%

    Grange Ward
    Christopher John Lumley Liberal Democrats 683
    Roland Frank Adams Conservative 347
    Turnout: 37.4%

    Rayleigh Central Ward
    Patricia Aves Conservative 654
    Patricia Ann Putt Liberal Democrats 283
    Christopher Richard Morgan Labour 135
    Turnout: 32.7%

    Trinity Ward
    James Edward Grey Conservative 618
    Keith John Budden Liberal Democrats 310
    Neil Kirsh Green Party 76
    Turnout: 34.8%

    Wheatley Ward
    Mavis Joan Webster Conservative 768
    Mark Andrew Pearson Liberal Democrats 322
    Turnout: 34.4%

    Whitehouse Ward
    Peter Frederick Arthur Webster Conservative 711
    Jacqueline Dillnutt Liberal Democrats 411
    Turnout: 37.1%

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    My Sixth Defence

    Well, it's nearly over for another spring.

    The key battleground is in the next-door ward to mine, Grange. The Tories are dragging in people from all over the place to try to knock our Chris Lumley off the council. Chris is a classic “residents first, politics second” sort of councillor, and even the Tories admit that he is very popular on the doorstep. But can the Conservatives win by sheer weight of manpower on election day?

    In my own patch, Downhall and Rawreth, the Tories are making a late effort. Some of their helpers clearly don’t know the area - one of them was seen delivering their leaflet in the wrong ward.

    I was struck by one of the points in their leaflet:
    "Voting Liberal would mean a vote 'for the wrong party' , due to them being the minority on the council. This means to you, local residents, little chance of getting anything altered or done".
    So presumably all the Tories should vote for Labour at the next General Election - after all they are in a minority in the Commons.

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    Round One

    The planning application from Asda for a 'neighbourhood centre' was turned down at our planning meeting last Thursday . In fact I moved refusal, my ward colleague Ron seconded it , and we won the vote by 12 votes to 9 with 5 abstentions. As you can see, it was a tight vote.

    Why did we go for refusal? It's a long story.

    Afterwards, the guy from Asda apparently said to the guy from the local chamber of trade. "Round One to you, but we'll see you at the appeal...."
    Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.


    I write this blog in a private capacity , but just in case I mention any elections here is a Legal Statement for the purposes of complying with electoral law: This website is published and promoted by Ron Oatham, 8 Brixham Close , Rayleigh Essex on behalf of Liberal Democrat Candidates all at 8 Brixham Close.