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Why Online Voting Is An Unsafe Idea

There were some surprise results last week. Really surprising results. But would we trust the results if the voting was done online?

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If you want to look at the election results, the Echo has them here.

We ended up with 21 Conservatives and 18 opposition – namely 6 Rochford Residents, 4 Liberal Democrats, 4 UKIP, 3 Greens and 1 Rayleigh Independent.

The Lib Dems won in the following wards:

District Council – Downhall and Rawreth

Chris Black – Winner Liberal Democrat 1111
Shaun Cain Labour 145
John Richard Chaffin Rochford District Residents 279
Tony Hollis Conservative 266
Deborah Mercer Conservative 303
Ron Oatham – Winner Liberal Democrat 945
Keith Brian Podd Conservative 305
Chris Stanley – Winner Liberal Democrat 865

District Council – Sweyne Park and Grange

Craig Archer Labour 375
June Lumley – Winner Conservative 785
Toby Mountain – Winner Rochford District Residents 847
James Newport – Winner Liberal Democrat 599
Carol Pavelin Conservative 514
Margaret Spencer Conservative 464

Town Council – Sweyne Park

Tony Hollis The Conservative Party Candidate 205
Ron Oatham – winner Liberal Democrats 808
Bruce Smart -winner Liberal Democrats 743
Chris Stanley -winner Liberal Democrats 730

Town Council – Victoria Ward

James Newport -winner Liberal Democrats 191
Keith  Podd The Conservative Party Candidate 108

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Thanks And Thinking Ahead

We’d like to thank everyone who has helped our campaigning this year – whether you are one of our wonderful team of volunteers who deliver leaflets for us, or simply someone who voted for us, we are very grateful.

We are now looking ahead to future years – and looking for new people to stand in future elections and hopefully to become councillors.

  • Being a councillor takes up some of your spare time – the amount of time depends on what type of council you stand for.
  • Anywhere in Rochford District is a good place to be a councillor – nearly everyone is friendly (or at least polite!)
  • It gives you the chance to influence your local area in a positive way. Parents now sometimes act as “the bank of Mum and Dad”, helping their children get a decent home. Maybe the council should partly be “The Council of Mum and Dad” , trying to improve the town that their children – or neighbour’s children-  are growing up in.
  • It is usually enjoyable and often satisfying.
  • The Lib Dems are a friendly bunch, you get advice, encouragement  and new friends without being told what to do…

We’re not really expecting anyone to decide this weekend that they want to stand for election in 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020!  But if you would like to have  a chat with us so we can explain just how enjoyable and satisfying it can  be, please email us at  theteam@onlinefocus.org

Part of a councillor’s work is trying to stop bad things happening.  But it also should involve encouraging good things to happen. So if you have any suggestions for positive things we should be thinking about for any part of our district, please leave a comment below…



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The Count


“Oh, Only Since I Was Two”

The Polls close at 10 pm this evening. A huge thanks to everyone who has voted for us!

The count starts at Clements Hall tomorrow morning, we will obviously write about it tomorrow, though the quickest news online is probably from the Evening Echo Twitter Feed.


It’s traditional for us to have a video on election days. So here’s something from the “West Wing” about wanting to serve. Blonde Republican Ainsley has been invited to the White House after she criticised the Democrats’ education policy  on TV, and she gets an unexpected offer:


Last Minute Reminder…

If you live in Downhall and Rawreth ward, we’d just like to remind you that you have three votes for the District Council, and we have three candidates – Chris Black, Ron Oatham and Chris Stanley.

Please give us all three of your votes:

  • We are the most local team, and we all want to serve.
  • We need to win all 3 seats to guarantee a place for a Downhall and Rawreth councillor on the committee that deals with planning applications. That could be crucial.
  • Winning all 3 seats sends a message to the council that local people aren’t happy with the overdevelopment in our area and want improvements in infrastructure.
  • Winning all 3 seats gives you a united team of active local councillors that aren’t under the Tory whip.

We are also hoping to get Ron, Chris Stanley and Bruce Smart elected to the Town Council for the “Sweyne Park” Town Council ward , and James Newport to the Town Council “Victoria ” ward.

Also – James Newport has a very good chance of winning a seat on the District Council in Sweyne Park and Grange Ward – please give him your support if you are in that area. He would be a hard-working councillor both in the street and inside the council chamber, and it would be great to have him elected.

And finally we have all our other candidates, all able people and all worth voting for – please give them one of your votes if they are standing in your area.



The Parties’ Policies

The Echo has a graphic on the various parties’ local policies:


When  you only have a few sentences, it’s hard to include everything. But you can see the broad approaches of each party.

  • The Conservatives,  Lib Dems,   UKIP and Rochford Residents all mention infrastructure.
  • The Lib Dems and Labour want to scrap the Cabinet system.
  • The Greens make a good point about 700 empty homes
  • The Rayleigh Independents Party doesn’t mention any policies
  • The Lib Dems mention expanding the LDF sub-committee to 13 members. This doesn’t sound very exciting, but this often boring little committee makes big recommendations on future development, and expanding it to 13 would mean each ward in the district would have a representative.

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More Election Battles : Rochford

roche north and ruralThere’s a wide range of candidates For Roche North and Rural – 3 Conservative, £ Labour, 1 Lib Dem (Daniel Irlam) and 1 UKIP.  Labour’s Jerry Gibson is stepping down, and we send him our very best wishes. Meanwhile Labour stalwart Myra Weir BEM is seeking to returning to the council chamber.

Following previous results in Rochford, the Conservatives look a bit vulnerable here. The result may depend  on how much helpers each party has on the day.

roche south

3 Conservatives v 3 Labour v 2 UKIP. Could be another close one,  with possibly a split result.


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Last Year’s Elections May Not Be Over Yet….

Local councillors and council officers  basing their decision making  on the assumption that we have a Conservative government until 2020 could be wrong::

In the news this week was the advice from the Electoral Commission to the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that they should apply for an extension to the legal deadline for investigation the 2015 general election expense returns from candidates.

The question is whether campaign activity which was included in the national Tory expense return should really have been included in constituency returns, and so would have taken them over the legal limits.

This all follows the digging by Michael Crick and Channel 4 into the way in which activities which were charged against the national election return by the Conservatives look to have included local campaigning for named candidates, and even the distribution of leaflets with the constituency candidate and agent imprint on them……..

……If all this ends up in convictions, it could result in MPs being disqualified and a round of by-elections being held to elect new MPs for those constituencies. It would only take a small number of voters in a small number of by-elections to change their views from 2015 and see the Conservatives lose their majority in Parliament.


Though this wouldn’t affect the Rayleigh and Wickford constituency.


With A Little Help From Our Friends

We have a very busy election day next Thursday!

If any of our onlineFOCUS friends can spend one or two hours at one of the polling stations for us , please let us know. We could do with a little help.

You just wear a rosette, take numbers and smile at people….

And in any case it gives us an excuse to play this version of the Beatles song…

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The Invisible Election

The Rochford Residents’ website had an article yesterday about the lack of publicity for the local elections:

 …This is an ALL OUT Election and the Conservatives could lose control of Rochford District Council.
But this is not news for our local papers who have failed to tell readers that there even IS an Election….

And they certainly have a point. But the local papers aren’t the only ones keeping the elections quiet.  The Lib Dems have two websites mentioning the local council elections (including this one), Rochford Residents have one website, the Conservatives don’t seem to have any. For example look at today’s front page of  the local Conservative Party  website. It’s about the same as the previous 400 days. Maybe they have a technical problem.


Rochford District Council’s own website doesn’t give much publicity to the elections either. This is last night’s front  page – the highlighted story was on self-build housing.


You can get to  election  information here – either by clicking on the pale green link “Elections on May 5th – Notice of Poll”, or by clicking on “Council and Democracy”  and following a longer route.  But it could be more obvious.



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…