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What The Count Is Like From The Candidates’ Point Of View…

This year the election count is taking place on the Friday morning, which is both good and bad from the candidates point of view. It’s good because it’s such a complicated count this time that it would literally last all night and into breakfast time, so we’d be absolutely exhausted and be too tired to drive home safely. It[s bad because some candidates will be so excited or anxious that they won’t be able to sleep much anyway.

In any case the  candidates  will go to the count on Friday morning with a range of emotions.  But people don’t display those emotions very much , not until the result is declared. It’s considered bad form to gloat, or to whimper. Two candidates who have been fierce opponents during the campaign will often stand next together looking at the ballot papers being counted in the same detached way that a couple of surgeons might discuss a mildly interesting case of appendicitis in front of them. “Looks like you are just ahead ” one will say . “Oh, it’s too soon to tell” will come the reply.

Though usually it does becomes clear who’s ahead.The person with the biggest pile of ballot papers allows him or herself a relieved smile, and thinks about who to thank in the little victory speech.

But it doesn’t always become clear at all. We’ve seen people in Rochford win council seats by one , two or three votes. When the victory margin is small the loser quite rightly ask for a recount.  A recount doesn’t normally change things by very much  But  if you are, say,four votes behind after the original count, you might be only two behind after the recount. Then you ask for a second recount…..

And what happens if two candidates are tied? It happened with a District Council election in Hullbridge back in the 80s, when  two candidates got the same number of votes. The answer is, you  toss a coin…

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This Could Be The Last Time….

There’s a meeting of the District Full Council on Tuesday evening. There’s nothing sensational on the agenda, but it’s the last Full Council before the elections, so it could be ‘the last time’ for any councillor present. And it will definitely be the last time for those who aren’t seeking re-election – unless they make a comeback in future years.

Expect a few farewell speeches. And possibly some point-scoring.

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A Farewell To Amar

Rochford District Council’s Chief Executive, Amar Dave, is leaving – to become a Director at Brent Borough Council in London. This will be seen by some as a surprise, as he has only been with RDC since October 2013.

So the recruitment process will start soon for a replacement.

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A Few More Thoughts About That Roundabout….

1. According to the document from the applicant’s traffic consultant, the 500 houses in Hullbridge would cause a big increase in congestion if no improvements are carried out. They predict that by 2019, without the 500 houses , there would be queues in Rawreth Lane in the evening rush hour of 45 cars, with delays of 210 seconds. (some people might argue  the queues  are that bad already)  With the extra 500 homes, the queues would be more than twice as bad – 107 vehicles long and 475 seconds.

roundabout12. Their consultants reckon the bigger roundabout would solve the problem, even with “a  proposed development on the adjacent land of up to 100 dwellings”. Who is proposing 100 houses on the adjacent land?!

roundabout23.  Just to make it clear , the plan that was passed does NOT cut off Mortimer Road from Hullbridge Road.

44. The chair  of the  meeting,  Cllr Seagers, cut off Chris Black from speaking after 5 minutes, even though he was still  talking  about  the details of the roundabout and the surrounding features .   Though council rules DO give the chair discretion to allow speakers to continue for longer:

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Short But Good-Natured

Tonight’s Extraordinary Council was short but good-natured. The only item on the agenda was to approve the list of polling districts and polling stations for future elections. That went through after a short debate, with all councillors agreed.

But after that there was a bit of unofficial business in the council chamber. We found out that Cllr Joan Mockford is leaving the area and moving to Bishops Stortford, and she was given a gift of two books about Rayleigh. Also Cllrs Terry Cutmore and Colin Seagers paid tribute to their colleague Barbara Wilkins who , as we reported earlier, has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

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“No Thank You”, Say Labour

Last week we wrote about the expected reshuffle of committee places owing to Labour winning a second seat and Jamie Burton leaving UKIP.

However this is turning into a bit of an anti-climax, as Labour have declined to take any of the four places they are entitled to. So Chris Black and John Hayter stay on the Development Committee ,and tomorrow night the council has to sort out what to do about the other places.

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Musical Chairs

The thing about musical chairs,is that when the music stops, someone is without a seat….

There’s an item at the next full District Council  meeting about committee places. With Jamie Burton leaving UKIP and Labour gaining a seat in the recent by-election, this means committee places have to be re-jigged – parties lose or gain a committee place or two.  This is rather more significant than usual because the Development Committee has been slashed in size from all members to just 13!  As a result there are just two seats to be shared – between the three smallest groups –  Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP. One group  is going to be unlucky here, and if all three groups put a name forward it will go to a vote, where the Conservative Group will be in a position to determine the outcome.

Similar decisions will need to be taken about other committees. The situation is exactly the same for Audit, Investment Board, Licensing and Review – 2 places to be shared between the three smallest parties.

The Lib Dem nominations will be:

Ron Oatham – Licensing

Chris Black- Development, Audit and Investment Board.

Whatever happens, these committee places are only until the next elections in May. In those elections there will be three Councillors elected for the newly enlarged Downhall and Rawreth Ward.  If we win all three seats we definitely get a place on Development and some other committees.

INVESTMENT BOARD

The Investment Board Meets

The Investment Board is a new District Council committee that means for the first time on Monday evening. It’s membership and terms and reference are shown above. It doesn’t look like the first meeting is going to be very exciting. However this committee could be an interesting sort of animal, we will have to see what is intended.

Further on in the agenda it says:

It is envisaged that the members of the IB, will be required to ‘roll-up their sleeves’ and contribute to projects and schemes as these are progressed through the various stages from inception to delivery.

When the meetings start to deal with important issues, we will let you know! (Unless things go private and confidential)

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Was That Really SOOTY Taking Part In A Southend Council Meeting?

See for yourself here.

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A Questionable Decision

Well, the Conservatives pushed through their motion last night to remove 26 councillors from the Development Committee:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/southend/13883763._Death_of_democracy__campaigners_dismayed_as_Rochford_councillors_vote_to_stop_all_councillors_voting_on_housing_plans/?ref=erec

 

Whether or not you agree with the actual decision, there is still some dispute over whether the council’s constitution allowed for this motion to be moved last night.

According to part 4 section 16.1 of the constitution, a motion to rescind a decision of the council that has been made in the last 6 months  has to be signed by 8 members, and this was signed by only 2. The decision to have a committee of 39 was taken at annual council 5 months ago. This may seem pedantic, but we really really don’t want to have a committee that votes on planning applications to possibly have its very validity subject to legal challenge.

The advice from our officers is that the decision is perfectly OK:

The motion on notice relates to a change to a mechanism that the Authority has in place to deliver business (its housekeeping arrangements) rather than a business decision. It is also suggesting an amendment to arrangements in relation to a Council Committee rather than the removal of a Committee.

However Section 16.1 doesn’t mention anything about “business”.

 

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Breaking News : “North of London Road” Passed Tonight 15-12

2 Lib Dems, 2 Greens, 3 UKIP and 5 Tories vote AGAINST the application.
14 Tories and 1 independent (Keith Gordon) vote FOR the application.

Geoff Willimas
Geoff Williams

Geoff Williams To Move Motion Of No Confidence At Basildon Council

We wrote recently about Basildon Council, where a planning decision for a big housing site was kept away from Basildon’s own planning committee and decided under delegated powers.

Veteran Liberal Democrat Councillor Geoff Williams is now intending to table a motion of no confidence in the planning committee chair Cllr Morris on October 15th. The motion reads:

“This council believes in democratic and transparent decision-making processes and is alarmed at the decision of the chair of planning, Carole Morris, to deal with [Dry Street] by way of delegated powers rather than, as requested by other members, by committee.

“In these circumstances council resolves that it has no confidence in Cllr Morris as chair of the planning committee and removes her as chair of that committee.

“It is further resolved that in future, all planning application reserved matters relating to housing developments greater than 10 properties come before the planning committee for determination and that the council’s constitution be amended as appropriate to reflect this requirement.”

When someone with the stature and reputation of Geoff Williams proposes a motion of no confidence in you, you know you’re in trouble…