Divided Britain – Divided Borough

State of the parties

AS THE STOCK EXCHANGE FALTERS and the pound falls in the wake of a hung parliament, the electorate is coming to terms with a future that is bleak.

Thursday’s elections saw no outright winner; no clear leader to steer us out of our financial crisis; and no clear plan to unite the nation in its time of need.

Brown hid the nation’s books from the opposition; Cameron adopted a mantle of economic prudence; and Clegg cursed both his opponents’ houses. The electorate grudgingly gave Cameron a preference vote; but withheld their full support.

As predicted in this blog, the 2010 election result was not based upon party or financial policy. The public were less concerned with economics (for which no party had firm plans) and more about the state of British politics. The majority were not about to cast a vote of confidence for any politician. Their only aim was to vote against the hypocrites and fraudsters that the Telegraph had exposed within its pages.

As the results were made known, parliamentary fraudsters fell like nine-pins as constituents voted to oust them – and a whole new political landscape was formed, which pollsters had been accurately predicting: a hung parliament.

Thursday night and Friday morning were one helluva night for Democracy, with UKIP and the BNP being comprehensively rejected.

In Castle Point, Bob Spink felt the weight of public outrage and anger. Thirty percent of voters decided to stay at home; but sufficient numbers decided that enough was enough and dispensed a resounding beating.

Locally, the Independent Save Our Green Belt party could not muster the protest vote against the main parties, which they had wished for. Their association with Spink had been their undoing; but, on the Island, matters were different. Knowing full well that the Canvey Island Independence Party could never form a majority, islanders decided to bloody both main parties’ nose and happily vote CIIP.

Do not for one moment think that islanders have given you a firm mandate, Dave. Your party is being used to send a message.

The only way you will retain the Town Council, and your borough seat, is to show how you can work with the Tories to manage the financial crisis.

Protests will no longer cut it…

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Time To Regain Democracy

BACK IN JULY, last year, you asked me to provide coverage of our MP and local politics, and I fulfilled that request.

Now is your chance to use that information, which I uncovered, to restore Democracy to this island and its borough by rejecting Bob Spink and his two ‘independent’ parties at tomorrow’s polls.

Few residents, it seems, were surprised to find that their parliamentary MP, Bob Spink, was actively engaged with the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) in a concerted bid to destroy Democracy in the borough; but their suspicions lacked positive proof.

Similarly, they were concerned that their MP was lining his own pockets with taxpayers’ money; but lacked the proof that this was the case.

All that proof is now documented throughout this blog as a matter of public record.

Bob Spink is both dishonest and a serial liar. Moreover, the former quality is shared by members of the CIIP.

Residents have been seriously misrepresented and manipulated by Spink and his close associates to create an artificial air of incompetence and corruption surrounding the borough’s Conservative majority – in order to have themselves installed in lucrative civil posts by fuelling public protests.

The political strategy is not new. It is the same as adopted by the far-right in Spain in 1936, and in the successful rise to power of Hitler four years earlier. But the new dimension added by Spink and Blackwell, drawn from the success of Labour’s militant tendency to infiltrate that party, is to conduct a clandestine campaign in which their objectives are not publicly declared. Moreover, both individuals have taken to adopting online aliases in public forums to mislead the public over their individual support.

Their dishonesty knows no bounds.

Such people and political organisations are unworthy of your support and represent a direct threat to Democracy; both on the island and in its borough. And there are those otherwise honest individuals, like Colin Letchford, Tom Jea, and Liz Swann, who are unable to face up to the fact that they are being personally manipulated for political ends.

It is time to face the facts: there is serious corruption in Castle Point and island politics – but it does not lie in the Conservative majority or that party.

If there is any justice, Castle Point residents will reject Spink in the polls tomorrow, along with his two local parties; but the point to consider, in the local elections, is whether an apologist or sympathy vote for the harassed Conservative party is a suitable reason upon which to base your selection.

During the past year, the Canvey Beat has been pursuing the Spink story; his relationship with the local press; and allegations against the ruling Tory group. It has left no time to cover the local Labour party, which has hardly featured in its articles at all.

Residents would be forgiven for thinking that the only two parties fighting local elections on this island are the Conservatives and the CIIP.

At the Castle Point level, of course, only one Labour councillor holds a seat – and that has put Brian Wilson (of St Mary’s Ward) in an unenviable situation. The presence of the CIIP and its argumentative, blocking tactics, have prevented the calm, inquiring voice of democratic socialism to be heard in the chamber.

For Democracy to work, it is important that all views be appropriately represented. And, in the circumstances now facing this country, and this borough, residents need to ensure that they do not overlook the opportunity of electing the best minds that the borough offers to guide them through the desperate times ahead.

In these local elections, please reject Spink and his parties; but, before you vote, take a close look at your local Labour candidate.

A 25% cut is planned (by all parties) to local council budgets after the general election – and that will mean very hard decisions being taken by council. We are not talking tidal pools here – or corruptly managed local transport ‘charities.’ We are talking severe cuts to residential housing budgets; youth facilities; school transport; meals on wheels – the vast gamut of local services that we have all become used to and upon which many rely.

This is not about more protests – although that is the route down which Spink and his cohorts will take you. This is about bringing the best minds to bear upon an impossible situation that we will all have to endure.

The Conservatives have proved that theirs is a safe hand on the tiller; that they are prepared to suffer criticism when unpalatable decisions must be taken; but what council lacks is a moderating voice that is able to point-out alternatives, whilst accepting the majority’s decision.

Neither the CIIP, nor the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party, can offer voters an intelligent opposition that is prepared to work with others to ensure suitable compromises can be made. But Labour are fielding some excellent candidates in this local election whom would.

So before you place a cross against the local Conservative candidate, this year, take a close look at your Labour candidate and ask yourself: who is the most experienced? And who would represent my family’s interests best in the wake of extensive cuts?

Please use your votes wisely this year…

… (07/05/2010) – Bye, Bye, Bob – Hello, Rebecca

… (07/05/2010) – Canvey Island Votes For Independence

While Rebecca Focuses On Local Issues, The Echo Gives Its Front Page To Bob

THIS YEAR’S GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN is likely to be remembered by residents as that in which the main party candidates struggled to have their messages heard above Spink’s clamour for attention from the local press.

On Tuesday, the Echo duly obliged – choosing to ignore a national perspective on its Save Canvey Pool campaign that the Conservative candidate, Rebecca Harris, had provided the previous day.

While Rebecca was explaining to the Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve, how fears over excessive Health and Safely legislation – and the growing compensation culture – had threatened the future of one of Canvey’s tidal pools; Gail Boland, Spink’s partner, was on the phone to the local police demanding that they arrest Bill Sharp over a ‘public order offence.’

It seems that Bill Sharp had waived an A3 poster of the Conservative candidate at Bob and Gail when they drove past him in their ‘battle-bus’ (proclaiming Bob Spink as an independent) on Sunday.

The two conspirators must have thought long and hard about using the incident when they returned home that night – and made their decision to get the police involved the following morning.

It appears that, to Spink and Boland, waiving Rebecca’s campaign poster at them is equivalent to a traditional English bowman’s salute, which I, and many other residents, may have performed in similar circumstances.

Of course, the Echo had a duty to report the incident – and had they had time they might also have considered the other point that Rebecca was making about a Conservative government: that it would bring an end to the culture of excessive litigation, while, at the same time, giving legal safeguards to those who really need them. But the appropriateness of her remark was apparently lost upon them as they devoted their whole front page, and a page-two column, to their ‘Tory’s arrest after spat with Spink’ leader.

On Wednesday, Sarah Calkin (an Echo staff reporter) decided to take-up space at the top of page-five to throw her own support behind Spink.

Casting around for a theme, she chose to report on UKIP’s support-ad for Spink in the Southend Standard. Bob could not have wished for more. UKIP had paid for the Standard’s advert – and now Calkin was reiterating its statements here (for nothing). She was even good enough to quote him in one of his biggest lies. (Can you spot it?.. Oh, no… There’s another one… Better make it: can you spot them?).

One thing is for sure, Bob Spink is spending a lot of money on his campaign. Unless I have been singled-out for special attention, his campaign literature was delivered to me by second-class post in a white Christmas-card envelope. (All my other candidate literature has been painstakingly delivered by hand to save on costs).

Is there a story here? His glossy A4 literature, which neither the Tories or Labour can match, certainly contains some whoppers – so perhaps he has no choice but to keep the envelopes’ contents concealed from postmen. But I particularly like the way in which he continues to promote his endorsement by John Mann MP.

Peas and a single pod come to mind…

Local Issues Facing The Borough And This Island

THE TACTICS BEING EMPLOYED by Spink and his two independent parties in this election are going to make it difficult for residents to hear the voice of other parties. Spink and his cohorts are committed to obtaining the community’s protest vote against the Conservative led Borough Council – accusing them of not listening to residents; of corruption in their administration; and putting the needs of their ‘developer friends’ above the needs of residents who wish to ensure that no new houses are built on Canvey. In particular, Spink’s campaign will seek to obtain votes from everyone who is opposed to the local Concord pool’s closure.

These gutter tactics are designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: to prevent the discussion of local issues, and their solutions, which the other main parties wish to address.

  • Local residents will wish to ask this year’s candidates: how do you propose that we solve this borough’s desperate need for new housing? The Spinks will reply: ‘Vote for us to ensure the integrity of the Green Belt.’
  • Local residents will ask: how do you propose to solve the additional traffic congestion that is likely from a vastly improved Canvey town centre? And the Spinks will reply: ‘We will ensure there is no new building on this island until Canvey gets its third road.’
  • Residents will ask: are you in favour of the Kent/Canvey tunnel option that a straw poll on the Canvey Beat suggests would relieve rush hour congestion on Canvey Way by up to a third? And the Spinks will reply: ‘We favour a new road connected to the already congested A13 – but the Tories are continually blocking it.’
  • Locals will ask: how do you intend to solve anti-social behaviour and eradicate the drug/alcohol problem amongst a minority of youths? The Spinks will reply: ‘We would shut-down the Continuum School and fence off those areas where youths gather.’
  • Candidates will be asked: how will you ensure that options regarding local issues are fully debated and explored in the Council chamber? And the Spinks will reply: ‘By ensuring strong opposition.’

And residents may wish to ask, of all their local candidates, one other question relating to the state of national politics – and in particular the position on this island.

  • All main parties have declared their intention to allow voters the power to sack their MP. Should you gain a seat at the local elections: is it your main aim to amend the Borough’s constitution and provide constituency wards the same powers to sack their elected councillors?

In a constituency that elects its councillors by thirds, the latter question is arguably the most important of this campaign.

Do not permit party representatives to only ask your intentions when they knock on your door. Take the opportunity of making sure they answer those questions which you feel are most important to you.

They are not your superiors. They are asking your permission to act on your behalf, as your representative, and requesting your precious vote.

You will be employing them.

Please use both your crosses wisely this year – and make sure you vote on May 6th…

Rayleigh Call Centre Closure Confirmed

(BBC) – ENERGY COMPANY E.On has confirmed its call centre in Essex will close in June with the loss of 600 jobs.

A 90-day consultation period with workers and unions has finished and the company said the site in London Road, Rayleigh, would shut on 25 June.

Another 200 jobs will go in IT support and energy services across the UK.

The company said it wanted to “streamline” its customer service operations by creating centres of excellence elsewhere in the UK.

The union Unison said this was the third announcement to close a call centre in the area this year.

Regional organiser Phil Green said: “We are asking our lawyers to look at whether E.On have properly consulted with a view to avoiding these redundancies.”

Mr Green said the union had put forward counter-proposals to keep the call centre in Rayleigh on a smaller scale but he said the company seemed determined to close the site.

A spokesperson for E.On said: “The decision to close the Rayleigh site was not a move that we’ve taken lightly and we absolutely understand the effect that this decision will have on our colleagues who have been affected.

“We’ll be continuing to be as supportive as we can during this difficult time and provide help and advice to all colleagues.”

E.On has said it will offer relocation packages and hopes some people will take voluntary redundancy.

Unison said only a handful of employees, between 20 and 40, would be able to relocate.

The company currently employs 16,000 people in the UK.

Lies From Spink; Lies From The CIIP – And Now Lies From Canvey’s ‘Save Our Pool Campaign Group’

THE LEAFLET SAIDPrinted At Below Cost By DESIGN 4 PRINT’ – and it immediately had my attention. After all, that is the local firm that prints the vast majority of Spink’s campaign literature (as revealed in his expenses claims). But the leaflet did not purport to be from Spink or either of his parties. The rhetoric was consistent, the phraseology the same; but it would appear that the person behind this is Tom Jea, producer of the Concord pool protesters’ Website. (The leaflet does not actually provide that linked address; rather it just mentions the site’s homepage – in order to ramp-up the hits).

‘How strange that I should find this in my letterbox now,’ I thought – as I removed it from the batch of political flyers with which it had been folded. And how strange that a group that professes to be non-political and ‘not for or against any party’ should not protest against the Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, Dave Blackwell, for agreeing with the Cabinet’s decision, on safety grounds, to close the Concord pool.

But then this issue is not, as it should be, about public safety or the Council’s liability for any accident that may occur to an unsupervised child. It is all about taking a current local issue and trying to turn it into the type of mass protest once seen on the island over Calor Gas’ plans. And residents should also remember that the only reason this issue is ‘current’ is because the Canvey Island Independence Party, in the shape of the Town Council, have consistently been unable to attend meetings with Borough councillors to solve it.

Spink and his parties are unable to present one idea for this borough – and their only recourse is to create a local political issue that might enable them to harvest some protest votes.

So perhaps Spink really did need that £16,000 for ‘his’ election campaign. As Julian Ware-Lane pointed-out, on his blog, Spink would be breaking the rules if he spent that amount of money. But perhaps Bob did not need it all for his own campaign…

Oh yes; what lie?..

The lie that: ‘Just 8 people had the power to decide this [the closure of the Concord pool].’ That was the number of Cabinet members; but what about the power invested in members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC), chaired by Blackwell (but too busy to attend the meeting) whom called the cabinet’s decision in?..

On this blog, Neville Watson said that the OSC had no powers, because the Conservatives have a majority on the committee. (Well, what do you know: maybe that is because the Council has a Tory majority).

Spink and his parties would have you believe that the opposition is impotent because the Conservatives employ a 24hour whip; but the truth of the matter is: the opposition is incompetent – unable to muster a logical argument against any Conservative proposals – and, when they have the opportunity to defeat them, they simply sit back and let the proposal through (to give themselves something to campaign about).

They have been adopting the same tired tactics, for the past six years – because they have seen that it provides them seats. And they will be adopting exactly the same tactics in this campaign; because it is the only way they will achieve any votes.

The borough’s Green Campaigners have been quick to distance themselves from Spink and his cohorts, highlighting, on the Echo’s Website, how they have been used.

It is about time that the Concord pool protesters did the same…

… (26/04/2010) – Is It Your Intention To Continue Misleading The Public, Tom?

Changes To Police Stations’ Opening Times

(Echo) – CANVEY POLICE STATION has changed its opening times to coincide with their busiest periods.

The front desk at the station in Long Road, Canvey is now open from noon until 8pm every weekday, and between 9.00am and 5.00pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Chief Inspector Keith Davies, of Castle Point police, said: “Research of our high demand times at both Canvey and Benfleet police stations have influenced these revised opening hours.

“If the public need to reach us on non-emergency issues it is important that we are available at times convenient to them.”

The front office at Benfleet police station in the High Road, Benfleet is open between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and closed on Saturday and Sunday.

It will however be closed from Monday April 26 until Friday April 30 to allow for maintenance work to be carried out. Normal opening times resume on Tuesday, May 4 following the Bank Holiday.

While the Benfleet front office is closed for the work to be completed, Canvey front office will open at the earlier time of 9.15am and close as usual at 8pm.

When front offices are closed the public can still contact the stations via 0300 333 4444. The nearest 24-hour station is Rayleigh, at 119 High Street, Rayleigh.