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Southend’s newly elected Labour-led coalition ready to trash seafront and abandon scrutiny in their first 30 days in charge.

Updated: Jun 11

Review of 'The Council' Meeting 20th May


The announcement of the General Election has overshadowed the ever so slightly seismic shift in Southend politics following the local elections on May 2nd.


While my focus has also shifted, as the proud Confelicity Parliamentary candidate for Southend West and Leigh, I have not taken my eye of what is in front of us.


Out with the old


The new administration has been regurgitated with the Labour, Lib Dems and the Independent Group reforming a coalition for the next two years (they hope).


The Greens did so well to stay away. Kudos and my respect for that party continues to grow despite my fundamental opposition to a number of their policies such as ULEZ, abolishing our grammar schools and 20mph on every road throughout Southend.


The non-aligned independents also maintained their dignity and their true nature of being independent.


The Independent Group, on the other hand, continue to defy their name and mis-lead the public as they play kingmakers as coalition partners. Cllr Terry has been raging all year that Southend residents must pay more to park on the seafront as he turns visitors into villains, instead of the reality that they are paying his wages. With Terry fixated on re-introducing 6pm to 9pm charges, I had challenged Cllr Cowan, pre-election, to deny whether a Cabinet position for Terry wasn’t on offer in exchange of the Independent Group’s support based on Labour's support of this policy - all flatly denied. But can you believe it, it’s happened! A deal done in the name of putting power first.


Whilst Labour have made history in Southend for becoming the largest party, Southend Labour should have won by a landslide given the immovable unpopularity of the national Tories. Perhaps it was because of their policy to charge residents 6pm to 9pm on the seafront? Or could it have been the widely publicised scathing last remarks from former Labour councillor, Stephen George, and backed up by other now former Labour councillors about the toxic nature of the party leadership?


The Council Meeting



After the personal attacks came the professional ones.


The meeting was not 3 minutes in before bedlam took over caused by Cllr Cowan’s overtly undemocratic policy proposal to change the constitution to effectively abandon proper scrutiny.


It is hard to describe the rapid level of descent this meeting plummeted to in such quick time. Sparing all the detail of the bewilderment, panic, farce and embarrassment, Cowan wanted to amend the constitution so any policies that were to come from himself and his Cabinet colleagues would then be Chaired and Vice Chaired by members of his own alliance in the scrutiny committees, as opposed to the current policy that sees Chairs selected from the opposition, which ensures a much fairer level of scrutiny.


Cowan said the Tories blocked policies on purpose, which is why this was proposed.


Cllr Buck said Cowan was shutting down free speech; that he wanted to be judge, juror and executioner of his own policies; and asked whether dictator should be added to Cllr George’s review!


I wrote in a previous blog that Cowan would need to pay a premium to get a coalition on board, and my best bet would be these extra positions are part of the deal. (see: With no overall majority, Labour and Tories will be dealing their way to administration. With Confelicity’s modest increase in vote share, we now turn to the GE to spread our local message (southendconfelicityparty.co.uk))


If Cllr Cowan thought his victory as Leader of Southend City Council would protect him from any further onslaughts, Tory councillor Daryl Jones read out what was looking to be an honest account of one of the former Labour Councillors personal experience of the Leader. As her words were being read out, a frantic point of order was called by Cllr Lydia Hyde to protect her leader’s reputation from being further gutted on the council chamber. Granted it did not have much to do with the debate, so Cllr Jones was duly silenced.


To the next 2 years


There is a bit of me that does not envy what Cowan and Co. face over the next few years. It’s easy to criticise when it’s not your neck on the line, but he and his team are now waking up in the morning with life-changing decisions to make.


If they can solve the growing debt problems without affecting services that will be impressive.


If they can save Southend United without endangering Southend’s financial position they really will be winning.


If they can regenerate the high street and fill up Victoria Shopping Centre with Southend’s brightest entrepreneurs they may never be removed from power.


If they can end homelessness, rid our sea of sewage, fix our pot holes and pavements, empty our bins weekly, cut our grass, and stop over-development, all the while reducing council tax, rents and charges, while avoiding their previous poor decisions such as charging us to park in our parks, charging us to go to the toilet, bring in any form of LTNs, and stop building on our green spaces, we may as well end democracy as we know it and enshrine them as our Grand Leaders infinitum!


Despite my severe reservations, I actually do wish them the best of luck because we cannot afford them to get it wrong.


Traffic Working Regulations Party - 30th May


The trashing of the seafront has begun.


Unfortunately, the coalition failed to invite a single resident of the 586 who signed the petition against the seafront 6pm to 9pm charges at the recent Traffic Working Regulations Party, and voted through the motion. Cllr Cox requested this aspect of the meeting be postponed due to no one receiving the invite, however, Cllr Cowan managed to squeeze this through in what definitely did not look like best practice. As other councillors spoke out their mics were duly turned off! What made matters even more inconceivable was they amended the budget to somehow reverse these parking charges on Eastern Esplanade where it just so happens Cllr Terry lives.


Conclude as you see fit.


All of this is so unpalatable and I look forward to the day when the culture changes. In the meantime, our role as Southend residents is to be on top of everything that comes out from this administration. Go to the public meetings and ask questions. Start petitions and reply to public consultations. I would urge all of us to take a keener interest in local affairs, however, if all else fails, we have a local party watching.

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What did you expect voting Labour in.

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Tris Bee
Tris Bee
Jun 05

I simply wish that a one man grievance against the Seafront had not led to people like me facing job insecurities.

People who travel a long distance to enjoy our seafront will of course come along unsuspecting, but they will not come back a second time.

And every £ spent on parking is one less £ spent in seafront shops and attractions, and that hurts jobs, like mine.

Sadly, we have 2 years of this now.

I sincerely hope the seafront's fete is not to become a High Street number 2 with it's appalling state.

People do not come here to go shopping any longer.

I fear the whole seafront will go the same way as The Kursaal, circa 1983.…


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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Never a truer word spoken James. I admit that even I was shocked by the ‘leaders’ chairing of the working party. A chairs role is to facilitate discussion not shut people down, patronise them, deride them with sarcasm. If this is the face of our council administration the next two years can only bring shame on our City.

And- well done Cllr Daryl Jones btw!

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