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Southend West Candidates Announced (part one)

March 28, 2011

Southend West Labour are proud to announce an excellent set of candidates for the forthcoming local elections. We are excited that our candidates represent people from all ages and walks of life in our town and would like to introduce them to you in the next two blogs.

From the years of experience in local government offered by Kevin Robinson in Westborough and Reg Copley in St Laurence, to the energy and enthusiasm of our younger candidates like Helen Symons, Matthew Zarb-Cousin and Liam Overy, we believe that we have the team to bring the difference that Southend needs to thrive.

Our candidates know what it is like to be a pensioner facing the harsh and hasty cuts that the Tory-led coalition are unnecessarily imposing. Our candidates with children are concerned about schools that are going to be allowed to go back to falling down and failing their pupils. We have candidates will firsthand experience of the challenges faced by young people where jobs are few and the support non-existent.

Kevin Robinson was widely acknowledged to be an excellent group leader when he served on Southend Council and will be a fine representative for the ward of Westborough, where he lives with his wife and young family. Kevin’s campaigning hard on issues as diverse as saving Westborough Library and dog owners taking responsibility for their mess.

Reg Copley’s decades of service will stand him in good stead as he seeks to serve the people of St Laurence ward. As a pensioner who served his country with distinction, Reg knows the challenges facing ordinary men and women in the face of this uncaring coalition Government, he is exactly the sort of person that this council needs.

Helen Symons, Matthew Zarb-Cousin and Liam Overy are young candidates who want to see a change in this town.

Helen has lived in Prittlewell, where she’s standing, for most of her life. As a former Vice President of the National Union of Students, Helen believes in putting her principles into practice and working hard to represent people across our community. During the recent Labour leadership contest, Helen founded the Lead 4 Women organisation to get the leadership contenders to commit to getting better equality and representation for women in the Labour Party.

Matthew and Liam are both students and are passionate about changing their town for the better. Both of them know about the challenges that are faced by young people in the face of the coalition’s recklessness. Young people are leaving school, college and university knowing that jobs are few and so many people their own age will struggle to find any work at all. Matthew, in Belfairs, and Liam, in Eastwood Park, care deeply about this and don’t want another lost generation to grow up without hope, thanks to the Tories.

We will be publishing more details about our remaining candidates tomorrow, but the full list of candidates in Southend West is:

Westborough – Kevin Robinson
Blenheim – Tony Borton
Prittlewell – Helen Symons
St Laurence – Reg Copley
West Leigh – Jane Norman
Leigh – Iain Blake-Lawson
Belfairs – Matthew Zarb-Cousin
Eastwood Park – Liam Overy
Chalkwell – Lars Davidsson

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Southend Buses and the Big Society – a local member writes

February 28, 2011

If the latest announcement from Southend’s bus operators is anything to go by, the Big Society could mean spending a lot more time indoors for some people.

The conundrum that is modern-day public transport is that it does not serve the needs of the public – it serves the needs of shareholders. Thus, ‘uneconomic’ routes and buses are scrapped with little regard to those who relied upon them.

In my youth the bus services in Southend were municipally run. There were more of them, and they ran more regularly. The decline is in part the story of the success of the motor car, but privatisation also played its part.

Nowadays the services that exist are expensive, the experience often unpleasant, and the result unhelpful if your ultimate destination is not one of the few on offer.

We live in a crowded town where the freedom of the car has become a blot on the landscape and a blight on our lives. Despite the numerous road schemes the real solution must be to reduce the number of car journeys.

I am not anti-car, I drive and I work in the automotive industry. But any fool can tell that driving around Southend is not a pleasant experience, and parking is often a fraught one.

I hope that a transport strategy exists for Southend, and that this includes having public transport playing a bigger role.

– Julian Ware-Lane, Labour Candidate in Milton

Tories: The Banker’s Friends

February 10, 2011

So now we know for sure where the priorities of the Tory-led government lie, they are not prepared to curb bankers bonuses, or to better regulate the financial sector that had brought down the economy with its reckless gambling but they will put thousands and thousands of people out of work, cut vital services up and down the country, sell off the woods and forests that belong to all of us, to let schools rot and destroy the NHS.

We now also know why they’ll help the bankers and not the rest of us. This week it was revealed that 50.79% of the Tory’s funding last year came from the bankers and financiers in the city. In other words, the gamblers who had to be bailed out by the Labour Government because their losses would harm the whole economy, paid £11.4m to the Tory Party and are now being allowed to carry on running their casinos and paying themselves huge bonuses while the rest of the country try to work out how they will cope in this harsh new “Austerity Britain” that David Cameron and George Osborne are creating.

Southend Council is facing severe cuts in its budget, cuts that will mean job losses and a sharp reduction in services. The pain felt in this town is echoing across the country. Not long ago Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory leader on the Council, threatened to march on Whitehall when they weren’t given the funding they wanted by Labour, now he’s silent on these cuts. The Lib-Dems, the Tory’s enablers in all of this destruction, are even worse with their leader, Graham Longley, defending the cuts, the Government and the chaos.

If we let the Tory-led Government carry on going down this road then we risk seeing the lives of so many ordinary people cruelly and unfairly harmed. Children who are now at school are already being scared away from university due to the increase in tuition fees, older people in need of hip replacements and other operations are being forced to wait as hospitals are closing wards to balance budgets and placate Tory Health Minister Andrew Lansley’s unprecedented changes. Children services are being restricted, schools can’t be refurbished and housing shortages are getting worse. No one voted for this.

And now the NHS is subject to cuts in Essex

January 7, 2011

Southend West treasurer and activist, Julian Ware-Lane, writes:

David Cameron, and Nick Clegg, made many promises in the run up to last May’s General Election. It is fast becoming evident that their words were of the ‘say anything to get elected’ variety as promises and pledges are being torn up.

The latest kick in the teeth comes as it now transpires that promises about “NHYes” prove to be as reliable as pledges about tuition fees – a vital ward at Southend Hospital is about to be shut and some operations in Essex are no longer to be performed.

The creation of the National Health Service stands as the premier achievement of any Labour Government. It flowers under Labour, and struggles against underfunding and cuts whenever the Tories hold the reins of power.

Labour’s achievements in reducing waiting lists are likely to be reversed, and any hope of the Cancer Guarantee being implemented, or weekend access to GPs, is disappearing over the horizon. The next Labour Government will, once again, be faced with a repair job on the NHS.

The lie that there is no alternative to these savage cuts is starting to unravel as the Tories are starting to lose support in the polls, and the Lib Dems plumb new depths of unpopularity. The Tories, with the connivance of Clegg’s orange book cronies, are engineering a society where education once again becomes the domain of an elite and where healthcare is a lottery. Theirs is an ideological attack on public services.

The Big Society is a fiction, only a Good Society serves all of the people.

Southend Labour Supports Southend Against The Cuts

December 12, 2010

The two constituency Labour parties in Southend were keen to show their support for the Southend Against The Cuts march and rally held on Sunday, December 12th.

This was a well-attended event with students, trades unionists, and ordinary members of the public coming out to show their support.

Ian Gilbert, leader of the Labour group on Southend Borough Council said that he was pleased to see this event so well supported given the cold weather and the proximity to Christmas. “This is the biggest rally I have seen in Southend for a long time. That so many gave up a chunk of their Sunday, and braved the cold, shows how important an issue this is. The cuts are going to bite hard and I fear for the people in Southend who will lose valuable services.”

Julian Ware-Lane, treasurer of Southend West Labour Party and Southend Against The Cuts, said “Tory governments and public demonstrations go hand in hand. No-one in the Labour Party is a deficit denier, but the savagery of the cuts show this is ideological rather than a necessary response. There is an alternative and I am keen to see that tax avoiders, for instance, are brought to heel. The bankers caused this crisis, so why should ordinary working people and students be punished?”

There will be further events planned by Southend Against The Cuts, and Labour in Southend will support them wherever they can.

The Cuts Will Harm Us All

October 1, 2010

How are we in a position now where an economic crisis, brought about through banks recklessly lending people money that they couldn’t afford to repay and then selling on these debts to generate huge bonuses for their gamblers in the broking arms, is being used by the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition as an excuse to cuts 25% of public sector spending?
There is a budget deficit in this country and any responsible government cannot ignore that, but the deficit and national debt was driven up when the public sector had to step in and save a reckless and border-line criminal banking sector on the verge of total meltdown. The Labour Government had taken a responsible choice – to step and rescue banks like RBS to prevent a situation where cashpoints wouldn’t be giving out money, where debit cards wouldn’t work at the tillpoint, where ordinary men and women, who had done nothing wrong not only wouldn’t be able to spend their own money, but would face the possibility of losing their life savings and not accessing the money they had earned that month.
But what is happening now? Now we have an ideologically driven coalition proposing to cut 25% of public sector spending. When you’re in financial difficulty at home you try not to spend as much, but you also think about how you can get more money in. Why aren’t this coalition prepared to do that? Why aren’t the banks, who caused the financial crisis by their reckless, dangerous and sometimes close to criminal actions and were rescued by the public sector – your taxes – being asked to cough up more now in taxation? Why are public sector workers having to find ways of saving money – taking pay cuts, working less hours, preparing to lose up to 1 in 4 of their colleagues – but the Tory and Lib-Dems friends in the City not being asked to pay their fair share?
In Southend, the Tory Council are trying to work out how to cut the budget despite giving one of their Tory members a huge pay rise by adding an extra member to their bloated cabinet and forcing through an increase in councillors’ allowances. The Labour councillors opposed these cuts and have refused to accept the increased allowances, but they were ignored on this. Now the Tories have discovered a taste for bipartisanship and are trying to spread the blame for these attacks on public services. Labour’s councillors, having been so often ignored, have declined an invitation to the meetings on these cuts, believing, in part, that the secrecy under which they are being held does a great disservice to local democracy. Instead, Labour councillors will continue to represent their constituents with renewed vigour and do all that they can to ensure that men and women in our town are given the help and support that they need.
We in Southend West Labour are proud to give the Labour group on Southend Council our full support. We see first hand the immense work that David Norman, Ian Gilbert, Margaret Borton and Stephen George do on behalf of the people that voted for them. They, and their colleagues who have sadly lost their seats in recent years (hard-working representatives like Judy McMahon, Denis Garne, Mike Royston and Kevin Robinson, to name a few) do all that they can to make sure the people in their community are given great support. This work is done in the face of relentless smears from other parties. In recent weeks the Tory attack machine has sprung into life and thrown insults, lies and baseless smears at these selfless public servants. You would think that Anna Waite, Blaine Robin and Louise Burdett would have better things to do with their time (perhaps working out how to add another Tory member to a high-paid cabinet post, or increasing their expenses again, or maybe just looking after the people that voted for them) but apparently not. The Labour Group are determined and passionate and they have the full support of local members who will join with them and the local unions to protect our community.
Cuts to the public sector will lead to a huge surge in unemployment, forcing people who work hard everyday to serve people in their community out of their jobs, making it harder for them to pay their rent or mortgage and bills. That in turn will hurt house prices and put the fragile economic recovery at risk. Whether you work in the public sector or not these cuts could harm all of us.

Ed’s Speech a Great Success

September 29, 2010

Labour Party members in Southend West today had their first chance to see their new leader, and Britain’s next Prime Minister, lay out his vision for our society from the Conference platform.
Whilst the media have focussed on one moment, when his brother whispered to Harriet Harman sitting next to him, the speech was broader and more interesting for party members and the wider country than that.
Promising to learn the lessons of the past, both by avoiding the mistakes but also by being proud of our successes, Ed Miliband has promised to make us the party that will seek to do what is best for everyone in our society.
He promised to look at the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition cuts and to responsibly oppose those that will do unjustifiable and lasting damage to our society, whilst recognising that there is a need for responsibility in such a difficult economic climate.
We are a party that represents all of our society, not just the cosy elites, and Ed’s speech showed that he is a leader who will allow us to best represent the people who rely on us.
Despite the lies of the Tories, the Lib-Dems and their friends in the press, Labour is not a dogmatic party stuck in a cul de sac, it is a vibrant and broad church full of people who want the best for our country and all the people who live here.
It was good to hear Ed tell some of his own story of how he came to be here today. The refuge that his family found in Britain is something that we all can be very proud of. It is a big part of our heritage. Ed didn’t have the silver spoon opportunities bought for him by parents able to afford the fees at schools like Eton or Westminster, instead he worked hard, like the vast majority of people in Britain, in a state school and made the most his abilities.
Labour has a leader looking to commit our party to civil liberties, green policies and finding a better work-life balance for all people in Britain. We believe that people in Southend West and the rest of our society share that commitment.