Voting in the May 5th 2022 Southend Local Elections

Voting in the May 5th 2022 Southend Local Elections

In less than a weeks’ time, UK residents (including Southend) will be invited to vote in Local elections.

I have already blogged twice on the subject from a Southend (my city) perspective “Local election time and the Confelicity Party” and “Hustings time again – Local elections 2022” and there you will find the context for what I am about to write. Last night I attended a hustings, which I helped to organize, and where four of the seven candidates standing in my ward (St. Luke’s) were able to and did present their credentials and answer questions from ward residents (appended – more on later).

As for predicting winners in the 17 Wards to be contested (Victoria Ward has two vacancies) I dare not do so given my poor record as a political pundit (see here for the list all candidates by ward). Checking out bookies odds, despite any anti Boris sentiment, Conservatives are slight favorites nationally and, the way things are, a small swing to Conservatives in Southend could see them taking power from the rainbow coalition (Labour, LibDem, Independent) and forming the next administration.  I suspect for most residents it is not something they care much about, but it could be significant. As interesting as what happens in individual wards may be, my focus from now on will be on St. Lukes, where the three candidates currently serving are Independent, Conservative and Labour.

As I have often commented, voters have a challenge (often not taken up) trying to decide who to vote for. One way to decide is meet the candidates, especially if out and about canvassing or you can find about them and / or their party through the media. Another way is checking out their leaflets. As far as I am aware, only the three widely seen as main contenders, Independent, Conservative and Labour, put out leaflets. I found the Independent one disappointing because it could have made more of his record (which I can testify was a good one) serving 8 years as councillor for the ward and less about his local version of draining the swamp (score 5/10). The Conservative leaflet was also disappointing in that while it gave a credible account of why Southend could do with a Conservative led administration, the leaflet would have been just as applicable if he stood in any other ward (score 6/10). The best of the bunch was the Labour leaflet, which imho gave the more convincing reasons why vote for their candidate (score 7/10). A few years ago, I based my choice on who to vote for on who put out the best leaflet at the time!

Which brings me to the hustings, which I believe was a success even though only 40 attended (which some felt was good) and only a minority would have been undecided voters resident in the ward. See below for questions and format. Four of the seven candidates AYLING Brian Roy: Independent, GARSTON Jonathan Mark: Conservative Party, HOGREBE Tilly: Green Party, MURPHY Kathy: Labour Party partook and all of them gave credible performances and made helpful points, bearing in mind that none of them had seen the questions before hand. A statement was read from CLARK Lee: Confelicity, who was unable to attend but I felt did make good points. As far as scoring on the night goes, I give both Independent and Conservative (6/10), Labour (7/10), and Green (8/10) for their performances, with all helpfully contributing. Tilly was the only candidate I did not know (and, moreover, I am not even an advocate of Green priorities), but I felt was the most convincing, who thought out and articulated her concerns better than the other candidates (imho) and while a touch too idealistic maybe, was honest enough not to make rash promises. A few years ago, I based my choice on who to vote for on who put on the best husting showing at the time!

This time round, I will neither be basing my voting intention on leaflet quality nor husting performance but, rather, what was said at the hustings will help me to make up my mind as for who to vote for on May 5th. Rather than giving him/her the kiss of death by saying that I would be voting for him/her, I will keep my cards close to my chest including the right to remain undecided right up to the point when I have to cast my vote. Well done Ferndale Baptist church for hosting the hustings and its minister, Steve Dalley, for efficiently chairing it and making everyone in attendance feel at ease (9/10). Well done all who turned up. I wish all the candidates well in their endeavours and while the system won’t necessarily mean the best candidate will win, I hope that is what will happen. I look forward to congratulating the winner on the night (likely the early hours of May 6th) as I hope to attend the best show in town – when they count the votes and announce the winners, and working with him/her after.

***********************************

Welcome, code of conduct and housekeeping

Candidate introduction (each candidate allowed 3 minutes to speak on why they are standing for councillor for St. Luke’s and what they can offer residents if elected).

Questions on issues affecting the ward (1 minute to answer each question). Exceptionally, at the chairman’s discretion, a further round may be allowed for candidates to add to answers to a specific question)

Short Break (5 mins – may allow audience an opportunity to submit their questions).

More questions

Candidate closing statement (each candidate allowed 2 minutes).

Close (by 9.30pm).

Question 1 –             Brian              Jonathan       Tilly                 Kathy

Question 2               Jonathan       Tilly                 Kathy             Brian

Question 3               Tilly                 Kathy             Brian              Jonathan

Question 4               Kathy             Brian              Jonathan       Tilly

Question 5                 Kathy              Tilly                 Jonathan       Brian

Question 6                 Tilly                 Jonathan       Brian              Kathy

Question 7                 Jonathan       Brian              Kathy              Tilly

Question 8                 Brian              Kathy              Tilly                 Jonathan                              

Question 9                 Brian              Tilly                 Jonathan       Kathy

Question 10              Tilly                 Jonathan       Kathy              Brian             

Question 11              Jonathan       Kathy              Brian              Tilly

Question 12              Kathy              Brian              Tilly                 Jonathan

Question 13              Kathy              Jonathan       Tilly                 Brian

Question 14              Jonathan       Tilly                 Brian              Kathy

Question 15              Tilly                 Brian              Kathy              Jonathan

Question 16              Brian              Kathy              Jonathan       Tilly

  1. What measures would you take to support and stimulate Southend’s economy?
  2. What would you do to alleviate food poverty in Southend?
  3. I feel that there is a major problem with speeding on North Avenue. I would like to see speed humps installed to solve this problem? What would you do to resolve the problem?
  4. I feel that we need more Social Housing in Southend. Do you agree? What would you do to improve this situation?
  5. I feel that there is no safe pedestrian crossing at the top of Bournemouth Park Rd, to cross Eastern Avenue. Do you share my concern, and what should be done about this?
  6. Members of the current administration have criticised the Conservatives for not partaking in scrutiny committees. Were they justified in making this criticism and what would you do to make the Council (members and officers) more accountable?
  7. Over recent decades, the green belt land north of Eastern Avenue has been increasingly built upon. Now, there is talk of building 7,000 new homes on that land. Would you support such a decision and how would you address the need to build new homes?
  8. In your canvassing of the Ward, what have been the main concerns raised by residents and what would you do, if elected, to remedy those concerns?
  9. If elected, what something special can you bring to the Council that will help in its work going forward?
  10. Balancing budgets is an important part of Council duties. Is money currently being spent wisely and, if not, what would you cut, what would you add and how would you create extra revenue that the Council can spend on worthwhile undertakings?
  11. It has been discussed that, in order to save money, rubbish collections will happen fortnightly rather than weekly. Would this be a decision you would support? Explain your reasons.
  12. Should the Queensway underpass be re-opened (remain open)? Explain your reasons.
  13. Do you favour more front-line policing and how would you pay for it?
  14. I’ve been made aware of several incidents recently when a resident has been injured after tripping on uneven paving. The situation seems to be getting worse. What is your opinion on this, please, and what should be done about it?
  15. Some residents have expressed concern about the proposed cutting of bus routes in this Ward. One resident was concerned that there will be no suitable bus provision on a Sunday, if proposed cuts are made. What is your opinion on this, please?
  16. One of the complaints sometimes levelled against Councillors is they are out of touch with the people they represent and are largely ignored. How will you go about earning the trust of St. Luke’s residents and dealing with their concerns?

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