Are We Any Wiser About Where The CIIP Stands?

IT IS A WEEK NOW since this Blog published its Dave Blackwell: A Changed Man? piece, responding to Blackwell’s voluntary comment in the readers’ forum in which he stated: ‘[sic:] i have always tried to work with the ruling group for the benifit of the residents of canvey.’ But it seems that Blackwell has no intention of participating in a public interview, or responding to the legitimate concerns of voters. Instead he would rather hide behind an online alias or instigate the likes of Letchford to change the subject while the piece disappears from public view and hence from readers’ minds.

Residents will remember that this is exactly the same tactic employed by Spink to deny constituents the right to an explanation regarding his fraudulent expenses.

Small wonder then that this Blog now has another ‘Page That Will Not Go Away.’

Dave Blackwell and his Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) launched its Blog on March 8th this year. Its inaugural post was written by Neville Watson, ending with an appeal to residents to ‘watch this space.’ But were residents made any the wiser about CIIP policies and how they were to pay for them?

Sadly the answer is no.

Here is a list of CIIP posts and position statements upon which islanders voted:-

  • The year so far, 08/03/2010: The CIIP is against over development and the closure of Canvey’s seaside pool.
  • Silly season is here, 18/03/2010: The CIIP is against over development and the closure of Canvey’s seaside pool.
  • Youth facility at the paddocks, 21/03/2010: A youth facility at the Paddocks would be a good idea (but we have no idea how we would pay for it).
  • Fantastic projects, 22/03/2010: Who knows? The post provided no details.
  • Kismet Park, 26/03/2010: The CIIP is against the Adizone.
  • The Point, 27/03/2010: The CIIP says there are plans to build more houses on the Point and that they are against the plans.
  • Website issues, 30/03/2010: The CIIP site was not targeted by hackers, their host’s server was.
  • Full Council 30/03/2010, 31/03/2010: A spun report of the Full Council meeting in which the un-costed Paddocks youth facility and the Adizone motions put forward by the CIIP were defeated by the majority.
  • What would Canvey Island be without opposition?, 04/04/2010: The CIIP is against the closure of Canvey’s seaside pool and over development.
  • A little bit of info, 11/04/2010: The CIIP lists its candidates for the election; but does not say what they are standing for.
  • Don’t trust the Tories!, 14/04/2010: The CIIP’s ‘first and foremost policy’ is to work for Canvey Island and its residents. (Other parties regard that as an obligation from their oath of office).
  • Polling Stations – Important, 19/04/2010: It is David Marchant’s fault, here are the correct polling times.
  • Do they think Islanders are fools?, 19/04/2010: Don’t trust the Tories.
  • What a Day! 20/04/2010: The CIIP is not politically motivated (and yet they are standing for election?).
  • Protecting our seafront, 29/04/2010: The Tories are incompetent.
  • Fact NOT Fiction, 05/05/2010: The Tories are liars.
  • Thank You Canvey, 07/05/2010: The CIIP wishes to thank all its supporters.

Interesting is it not? Two whole months of posts and residents still have no idea what policies or spending plans the CIIP have. Their campaign was fought purely from a position of being against over development (the same position as the other main parties) and against the closure of Canvey’s tidal pool (the same position as Labour and local Conservative candidates). But, whereas the main parties were keen to discuss their approach to necessary spending cuts; a third road for Canvey; island congestion and the need for additional homes – the CIIP were not.

That is because discussing local issues would force them into taking a position – and hence alienate some voters. The CIIP’s tactic continues to be that it is better to say nothing – and have voters think what they will.

The CIIP’s form of politics is both arrogant and dishonest; but it has appealed to a slim majority of islanders because the party puts claim to representing Canvey. Just as the BNP wraps itself in the union flag to attract nationalist support, the CIIP’s support is mainly from those who love this island and believe CIIP propaganda that the borough’s majority is unrepresentative of their views

The CIIP would never admit that the leading force behind the millions of pounds that have been invested in this island over the past few years – and many of those before it – is one Ray Howard, whom just happens to be a Conservative councillor.

The CIIP have not, and never will, attract a single penny of external investment in the island – because no investor will provide funds where councillors have no policies or plans.

Historically, of course, prior to the CIIP’s claims to represent islanders, the Labour Party dominated Canvey Island. Why that party is no longer held in high esteem probably has to do with the chaos ensuing from the borough’s Labour administration prior to 2003 – in which Blackwell was deputy leader. But, over the past six years, Blackwell’s CIIP have usurped Labour’s vote and replaced it with a party that can never hope to regain control of the Borough council. (The CIIP only fields candidates in 17 island seats and there are 24 on the mainland).

So why do a slim majority of islanders waste their vote upon a party that is arrogant, dishonest, and can never hope to take control of council?..

Like many other islanders, I am bemused.

Would anyone care to enlighten us?..

Your Voting Intentions – Straw Polls

NOW THAT THE MAIN PARTIES have launched their manifestos (and others decide to say nothing substantial) it is time to conduct a straw poll of local reader opinion.

This evening’s TV debate is likely to influence voters and it will be interesting to see how this blog’s straw poll differs from those results. As readers will know, this blog was set-up as an experiment, and I am keen to discover if its readers’ opinions actually reflect those held locally.

The other thing I hope to find out is just how many individual readers this blog has – so it would help me enormously if all local visitors could please ensure they ‘vote.’

These two polls will close at midnight on Monday – permitting some four days for votes to be cast. I have done this because the blog’s stats suggest that many readers just visit here – to catch-up – once or twice a week.

I will post further polls, next week and the week after, to coincide with the other two TV debates.

Many thanks for your help…

BNP Joins UKIP In Providing Spink Parties Their Votes

CASTLE POINT RESIDENTS will be unable to vote for United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) or British National Party (BNP) candidates in the local Borough Council elections on May 6th. Both parties have decided to leave the field clear for Spink’s Independent Save Our Green Belt Party on the mainland – and Spink’s Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) on the island.

Local nominations closed on the 8th April.

Canvey Island wards are all three horse races between CIIP, Conservative and Labour candidates.

Those standing on the island are as follows (asterisked candidates are seeking re-election):-

Canvey Island Central Ward

  • Daniel Curtis (Labour)
  • *Peter James May (Canvey Island Independent Party)
  • Stewart Topley (Conservative)

Canvey Island East Ward

  • Alan Curtis (Labour)
  • James Lee Parkin (Conservative)
  • John Albert Payne (Canvey Island Independent Party)

Canvey Island North Ward

  • *Nick Harvey (Canvey Island Independent Party)
  • Pat Haunts (Conservative)
  • John Payne (Labour)

Canvey Island South Ward

  • Katie Curtis (Labour)
  • Mark John Howard (Conservative)
  • *Joan Margaret Elizabeth Liddiard (Canvey Island Independent Party)

Canvey Island West Ward

  • Bill Deal (Labour)
  • Jane Elizabeth King (Canvey Island Independent Party)
  • Colin Alan MacLean (Conservative)

Canvey Island Winter Gardens Ward

  • Richard Bender (Conservative)
  • *Peter Greig (Canvey Island Independent Party)
  • Maggie McArthur-Curtis (Labour)

Pervert Targets Teenage Girls On Canvey

(Echo) – A PERVERT is being hunted by police after he twice targeted schoolgirls on Canvey.

The man approached both girls, aged 15, as they walked alone.

He stopped one at Castle Point Golf Course, in Somnes Avenue, but she managed to run away. The man gave chase, but she was able to give him the slip.

The second girl was approached in Thorney Bay Road.

The man pulled over in a grey hatchback and asked her to get in.

When she declined he said “OK”, but ominously said he would see her tomorrow. He then gave up and drove away.

The culprit is aged between 40 and 50, with long scruffy shoulder-length grey and brown hair.

PC Sam Baldwin, of Canvey police, said: “They have been linked because the same description has been given, which is why it’s a concern.

“We just want to make sure that people keep their eyes open.”

The first incident happened at about 4.45pm on Monday March 1, the second at about 8.10pm on Tuesday, March 16.

Yet police only revealed what had happened yesterday.

Anyone with information should call PC Christian Howell at Canvey police station on 0300 3334444 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Canvey Co-Op Robbed By Man Holding Knife

(BBC) – A CO-OP STORE on Canvey has been robbed by a man carrying a knife.

The robbery took place at the shop, in Linden Way, at about 0820 GMT on Friday when a man approached a sales assistant and demanded money.

The man, who held a knife at his side, was given money and left the store, turning left towards Long Road.

He is described as white, in his late teens or early 20s, about 6ft (1.83m) tall and of large build. He was wearing blue jeans and white trainers.

He was also wearing a navy blue hoodie with the word Lambretta in white lettering on the front.

Anyone with information is asked to call Essex Police on 0300 333 4444; or Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Terry Smith Jailed For Robberies

(BBC) – A WRITER who claimed to be a reformed criminal has been jailed for a minimum of 12 years after being convicted of robbing security guards.

Terry Smith, 51, of Point Road, Canvey Island, Essex, was found guilty of conspiring to rob and conspiring to possess firearms with intent to rob.

His brother Len, 52, of Dagenham, was found not guilty of the same charges at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The raids were carried out in east London and Essex between 2006 and 2008.

Prosecutors alleged that the brothers were involved in attacks on security guards delivering cash to hole-in-the-wall machines.

Detectives estimated £250,000 was stolen and during one raid, at Rayleigh, Essex, in May 2007, commuter Adam Mapleson was shot and injured.

Jurors were told that Terry Smith, who wrote the book The Art Of Armed Robbery, had previous convictions for armed robbery and had written a series of books in prison.

He had denied being involved in the robberies and told police that he was “reformed” and working as a writer and consultant for television crime programmes.

Smith was given an indeterminate prison sentence and told he must serve at least 12 years.

Brian Wall, 62, of Dagenham, Essex, was found guilty in June last year of causing Mr Mapleson grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was given an indeterminate sentence and ordered to serve at least 12 years.

… (Guardian, 26/02/2010) – Gangster turned TV pundit jailed for masterminding armed robberies

… (Thurrock Gazette, 02/03/2010) – Newsagent robber was also author

If You Are Listening, Ray: Rebecca Has An Idea…

Rebecca Harris (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party)

(Rebecca Harris) – I WAS DISMAYED by the proposal to close the older and more historic of Canvey’s tidal pools. 

We have already lost too much of our heritage and local character, and I would deeply regret losing any more – even if this wasn’t such a well used resource. Nor does the fact that we have a newer pool, which the Borough Council say they will improve with a crabbing area, lead me to think: “Oh; that’s alright then.” 

I also have a gut reaction against the words “Health and Safety”. (Although, as a mother, I don’t want to put my toddler at genuine risk however bloody-minded I might feel about the Nanny State). 

My personal view is that we should do everything we can to keep the pool operating as a part of Canvey’s history, somewhere young families can have a cheap day out, and a much-loved aspect of our sea-side. 

I have spoken to the councillors involved in the decision to try to understand what they were thinking. They all clearly came to the decision with real reluctance; several even became nostalgic about their own childhood memories of using the pool or having taken their children or grandchildren there. 

I think they were motivated by two factors, risk and future maintenance costs. I can understand that once councillors, or anyone else put in the same position, are told they may be responsible for serious risk to life – and in this case children’s lives – they  feel very reluctant to second guess expert findings and want to move fast to eliminate the danger. 

I can understand that. 

Due to the state of the public finances, councils are anticipating as much as a 10% funding cut from the current government. So they’re looking to make some tough decisions. Having decided the priority was refurbishing the Paddocks and Waterside and keeping them to a safe standard in future years, they thought they couldn’t afford two tidal pools too, with all the supposed legal risks attached. However, I still think this decision was short-sighted and rushed. 

They failed to make an assessment of the views of local residents and traders – or look into all the possible options. The electorate are no less capable of grasping the issues and deciding if this is something they care about enough to justify the costs to them, the taxpayer. 

Most of Britain’s old tidal pools have closed already over Health and Safety fears, which makes this 80 year old example even more special and valuable an asset for the Island. And anyone familiar with the pools will know that the older one is in fact by far the better of the two. If we could only have one, that would actually be the one to defend! 

I only got in to the Special Town Council Meeting on the pool late (there was a space problem), but I was glad I made it. I was put forward to speak by campaign leader Liz Swann, who knew I was against the closure. I’d emailed the Chairman earlier; but clearly too late for the message to reach the meeting that I’d obtained an assurance from Castle Point Council that they wouldn’t decommission the pool before allowing time for everyone to explore the options. 

This gives everyone a decent window of opportunity to get a “Second Opinion”. The facts can be fully reviewed. We need a proper understanding of the relative costs of maintaining the pool to what’s considered a modern safe standard, to check the quoted costs are accurate, and weigh them against the needs of Canvey as a tourist venue and the finances of our councils. 

Crucially, we can also look at other avenues for money such as Heritage Lottery Funding, which has helped some of Britain’s 1930’s lidos. There might be other ways to reduce the annual insurance costs in these litigious times too. 

The Borough Council have committed themselves to spending £50,000 to remove the pool and improve the beach. On their reckoning it would be only another eight thousand more to put it in good order in the first year, so it’s clearly not an immediate worry about money. But these works would be one-off capital expenditure; the worry is surely how they can find new money each year from a shrinking government grant, to prove to insurers that the pool is “safe”. 

Part of the original plans for the regeneration of Canvey were for the CoastWatch hut to be moved around from its current position near the Port of London Authority jetty to somewhere that they can also observe the beaches; but, as government cash has dried up, this plan is stuck on hold. 

But what if we could get grant money to make this happen again? With volunteers able to view the pool in daylight hours – and all year round – the ongoing insurance costs for both pools would be certain to fall dramatically. There would still be some annual physical maintenance costs to cope with (sea damage etc) but it could make the burden on council tax-payers much more manageable for either the Town or Borough Council. There is even an old lifeguard lookout on top of the Concord Cafe which might be used in the short-term if CoastWatch agreed. This would make the whole of Canvey seafront safer too. 

It still won’t spare local council tax-payers the risk of some drunken idiot breaking his neck there one night and suing us for £3 million, but insurance is about levels of risk and it might make that insurance risk more manageable. 

Maybe Ray Howard can do his usual conjuring trick of finding a pool of capital grant money from somewhere for CoastWatch? 

It might not solve the problem; but it must be worth a try…