Southend Local Elections 2023 – a personal and a St. Luke’s ward perspective

Southend Local Elections 2023 – a personal and a St. Luke’s ward perspective

In less than a week, residents of Southend-on-Sea, like those in most other parts of the UK, will be able to vote for who to represent them in their local council, which is currently constituted thus:

Administration (26) Labour (15) Independent (Group) (5) Liberal Democrats (6)

Opposition (25) Conservative (21) Independent (Non-Aligned) (2) Residents First (2)

Only a small swing (one third of the 51 seats, one for each of the 17 wards, are up for grabs) would see a change in administration, but besides not up to date with the local mood, which typically follows the national one, and since my powers of punditry are poor anyway, I am not going to make predictions. Rather, I will confine my comments to the current situation and changes seen since last year’s election. I will end by considering my own ward (St. Lukes) as it affects me and I know most, including thoughts on the candidates standing. The Southend City Council website helpfully details each of the candidates standing (see here).     

Traditionally, Southend has been a Conservative town (now city), although in recent years it has had rainbow administrations, where different parties horse trade in order to get power. One imagines this trend will continue, although it appears the bubble has burst for Independents of the Alliance ilk, with the new kid on the block being the Confelicity party (which I have discussed recently). Not only are Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems contesting each ward but so are Confelicity and the Greens, although despite both making inroads it will be a surprise if either win seats. Besides aligned and non aligned Independents (it is difficult to work out which is which), there is one Psychedelic, one British Democrat and two Heritage Party candidates standing. Folk who read my political blogs will know my disillusionment with the main political parties, and my thoughts why the Heritage party may be the best of the rest (see here). I am sure it is more than coincidence that both British Democrat and Heritage Party candidates are standing in what was once seen as the most deprived ward in the City – Kursaal.

Unlike with national elections, and speaking personally, I vote for the person who I think will do the most good for my ward (firstly) and my city (secondly) and that irrespective of political party. The National scene is a different kettle of fish and while I understand why those who do vote do so based on national preference, that is not my approach, and my thoughts on all the major parties border on despair. I note a number of old friends from right across the political spectrum standing, who I believe, based on past performance, will do a good job if elected. I think Southend does better under the Conservatives, although there is not much between them and the Rainbows. Sadly, the trend toward voter apathy continues, not helped by the fact I have had only one campaign leaflet through my door (Labour) and I have yet to engage with any local candidate on the campaign trail. Regrettably, no one has taken up the mantle from me in organising hustings, begging the question what have people to go on when deciding who to vote for?

Back to St. Lukes, here is what I think of the candidates:

Ayling Brian (Independent): Brian has been St. Lukes Councillor for two terms, losing out on the last two elections. I know that he has worked well on behalf of residents, and participating in community events and in his committee work.

Berry Martin (Labour): Martin has served well in his first term as councillor, gets on with the wider cross section of the community and seeks and achieves a balanced understanding of the issues.

Boulton Billy (LibDem): I know nothing about Billy and get the impression that as far as St. Lukes goes, whoever the LibDems put up, is a paper candidate only and not expected to win.

Hills Jolene (Confelicity): I don’t know Jolene but have been impressed by the Confelicity fresh approach. Their manifesto (imho) is better than any of those put out by the other parties.

Hogrebe Tilly (Green): It is a shame that the “Climate Emergency” is a con (imho) and affects Green’s policies and approach. Based on last year’s hustings, Tilly is the candidate that impressed me most.

Shaikh Tamkeen (Conservative): I met Tamkeen by chance at a recent event at the local mosque. We had a short, meaningful chat. I felt this lady had something to offer residents if elected.  

Just as I won’t predict the election outcome, I won’t say who I want to win. Right now, I have a preferred St. Lukes candidate (and it is up to the others to convince me why I should vote for them), but I won’t say who as it will be the kiss of death for him / her. I say to those who read this, do your own research as best you can, and go out and vote for the person who you think will represent your community best, and don’t forget to bring ID. While pessimism in the system is justifiable, having good local representation is an important way to make a meaningful difference.


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