RIP Richard Boyd

We were very sad to hear of the sudden passing of Richard Boyd .

Richard played the epic, leading role in the Liberal revival in Rochford District in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He was first elected as a councillor for Trinity Ward in 1976, coming second in a year when there were two seats available. This was a considerable achievement at a time  when the Liberals were doing poorly nationally.

1976boyd Until then there had only been one Liberal on the District Council , the gentlemanly and caring Bernard Crick from Ashingdon. Richard soon became leader of the Liberal Group. He helped another Liberal, Derek Helson, get elected in Trinity Ward , and the Liberals were on their way.

Derek was the most  studious councillor, poring  over  council documents to find much of the ammunition that Richard would then use with tremendous flair, either in the council chamber , or in the local press, or in Focus newsletters.  They campaigned to cut down on what they thought was unnecessary spending, and to use the money instead on good causes such as bus passes for pensioners, or to cut the rates.

In 1981 Richard upset the applecart further, by unexpectedly winning a County Council seat, Rayleigh North. By 1984 he led a group of eight  on the District Council , and the numbers gradually increased until the Tories lost control of the  District.  Richard also stood for parliament in 1983, coming second with a very creditable 32% of the vote.

He played a role in the reinstatement of Rawreth Parish Council, and in the creation of Rayleigh Town Council. On the County Council Richard eventually became group leader (we understand the flag is at half mast today at County Hall). He also achieved other positions, such as Chair of the Essex Police Authority in 1994:




Richard acted with flair and panache in the council chamber, and was capable of some withering ad libs.  When a very inexperienced Chris Black got up to speak in a debate on storing nuclear waste in Essex , the Tory  chairman said he had heard enough from the Liberals and told him to sit down. Richard immediately up stood up and said “Well done Chairman, there’s only one councillor here with a degree in physics and you’ve told him to shut up”. That attracted some publicity.

Even those who disagreed with him  enjoyed his wit and ability.  When he had poked holes in a Conservative argument he would dryly apologise for “clouding the issue with facts”. There was nearly always something to enjoy when he was in the chamber! For many of us entering politics he was an inspiration .

Rest in peace Richard, and our thoughts are with your family.

Former Group Leader Richard Boyd
Former Group Leader Richard Boyd



mike handford

Happy Birthday Mike !

Former Lib Dem Councillor Mike Handford has just had one of those ‘big’ birthdays- and his family arranged a surprise birthday party for him. Lots of his former Lib Dem colleagues turned up, some travelling quite a distance, and it was a really good evening!

A group photo of former and current  councillors
A group photo of former and current councillors



Former group leader Richard Boyd
Former group leader Richard Boyd
and another former group leader - Trevor Powell
and another former group leader – Trevor Powell







How To Communicate

We are Lib Dems, but as you will have noticed , we don’t publish lots of party material, this isn’t that kind of website.

But credit where it’s due. Our party leader, Tim Farron, has a lot to do nationally. But it’s impressive how he communicates with his local constituents via Facebook. We saw this yesterday on his facebook page:

tim farronfacebook

It’s good to see, and an example that other MPs could follow.

lib dem conf 1 small

Report From The Lib Dem Conference

Chris Bailey was one of several local Lib Dems who went to the 2015 Party Conference in Bournemouth held from 19th to 21st September. This is his report:

Lib Dem members own their Party and the Conference is where members discuss and make policies. This exercise in simple democracy stands in sharp contrast to the Conservative and Labour Parties whose conferences nowadays are just talking shops with no role beyond publicity. We take our members seriously which is why it was great to see so many of them in Bournemouth. Despite the bad general Election result we had a record attendance and meetings were packed to overflowing. Or maybe it is because of the election result 20,000 supporters have joined the Party since the election, showing their determination to re-build Liberalism in Britain. At this Conference the LibDem fight-back has clearly begun.

500 of these new members were at the Conference and a number spoke in the debates. And how well they spoke, especially some of the students and young people who have been flocking to the Party. So after a difficult election, the Party has clearly got a great future.

Policy debates this time covered some areas where Liberals are agreed that there is urgent need for Governments to take action. The need for example, to build more houses that ordinary people can afford, including more houses for rent by Councils, and to stop the Tories crippling Housing Associations by forcing them to sell off their properties at knock-down prices. Other topics included protecting our human rights from the Tories plans to tear up international conventions; our campaign for a yes vote in the European referendum; attacking the Tories broken promises on funding social care for the elderly, and the importance of preserving and improving services for young people, also under threat from savage funding cuts.

But a topic on which there was disagreement and a closely argued debate was Trident. Although all Liberals would like to see a world without nuclear weapons, some favour scrapping Trident immediately whereas others favour retaining Trident, albeit scaled down, until further multilateral treaties on nuclear disarmament can be agreed. The multilateralists won though it is a subject that will probably come back to Conference in a couple of years.

In addition to the formal debates, Conference includes a host of fringe meetings where, in smaller and less formal settings, you can hear and question Lib Dem celebrities such as Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Paddy Ashdown and Ming Campbell, or hear charities and think-tanks pressing their cases.

There are training sessions on a wide variety of campaigning issues and on a lighter note, a quiz (our team came fourth out of about twenty) and the Glee Club an exercise in community singing with an emphasis on political and satirical songs which goes on until 2 in the morning for those with sufficient stamina!

There was a moving tribute to former leader Charles Kennedy. Although he had a lower profile in recent years he had been a regular attender and speaker at Party Conference. His thoughtful, principled and down-to-earth approach had always made him a Conference favourite.

But the climax is always the Leaders Speech at the close of conference. And Tim Farron delivered a cracker which certainly brought tears to my eyes in a way that no Leaders Speech has done before. I cant do justice to it in a few words and I recommend that you watch it in full on iPlayer But he reminded us why we are Liberals and why the values that the Party has always stood for matter so much today. I know I made the right choice when I voted for Tim Farron to lead the Liberal Democrats.

To watch Tims speech on iPlayer, follow this link and go to coverage of the Conference on 23 09 15 (it begins about 3hours 15 minutes in).
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06dwt5p/liberal-democrats-conference-2015- Continue reading “Report From The Lib Dem Conference”

lib dem rosette

“As I stood next to one of the Lib Dem councillors I would have done anything to give 50 of my votes to the Lib Dems to make sure the Conservative party didn’t get the seat.”

Jon Tolley runs a record business, Banquet Records in Kingston Upon Thames. The kind of inspirational business person that towns need. He recently won a by-election to become a Lib Dem councillor. His story is a bit unusual and you can find it here.

Here’s a few extracts:

…A friend, Charlotte, made a petition to stop the cancellation of the carnival. In her absence, I addressed the council about it at a full council meeting. I still didnt get a clear answer. A wishy-washy resolution to try to try or something was passed. I was left frustrated. I vowed to run as an independent on the next by-election, almost on a one-issue thing. After a false start, a by-election came up in Grove, the part of Kingston I live and work in. It was, for me, about arts and culture, and why our arts are as important as theirs….

…. Id made my point. I never really thought i could win, but i wanted to try. In the course of the campaign, people from the Lib Dems, but notably Chris, Rebecca and Liz were in touch. They seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, and saw that I had a reach to, and from ,people and a different way of looking at what was going on in Kingston…

On the night of the election, i was at the count. It was a pretty close-run thing. I wanted as many votes as possible, but there came the realisation that my standing might have taken some votes away from the Lib Dems. As i stood next to one of the Lib Dem councillors i would have done anything to give 50 of my votes to the Lib Dems to make sure the Conservative party didnt get the seat. The Lib Dems held the seat by 18 votes. It was so close. I was relieved that the Tories didnt get the seat. Id known that councillor for a good few years. Always had a respect, I know she liked me a little. She said on the night, How can we get you to join us?….. I never spoke to her again. That councillor was Chrissie Hitchcock….

I was shocked when i heard of Chrissies death. Genuinely. One of the good’uns, and special to many. Im not gonna pretend i knew her well, but i did know her. And anyone, and i mean anyone, who knew her better than me, could only respect her, even if they disagreed with her. The turn out for her funeral was big. The Walk On at it will live with me for some time. Democracy being what it is, I knew thered be another by-election. I wouldnt run as an independent. It didnt work. I wouldnt want to hand the seat to the Tories. Id help the Lib Dems. I met up with Liz Green for a cuppa. We talked about the potential of me running with and for them. I gave it some thought, but not loads….

tim farron

A New Era – And Three Victories :)

Congrats to Tim Farron on becoming the new leader of the Lib Dems. One of our Rayleigh members emailed us to say:

Just coming back from Islington Assembly Hall where saw our new Lib Dem leader give a rousing speech to a packed hall of cheering supporters. Very emotional, very uplifting.

And we are off to a great start, with three council by-election wins in England and Wales last night:


We had a sensational gain from Labour in Wrexham:

LDEM – 52.2% (+52.2)
LAB – 26.3% (-24.8)
IND – 9.2% (+9.2)
CON – 4.8% (+4.8)
UKIP – 4.5% (+4.5)
IND – 3.1% (+3.1)

We also gained a seat off the Tories in Battle:

LDEM – 57.8% (+10.7)
CON – 26.3% (-11.8)
UKIP – 8.2% (+8.2)
LAB – 7.7% (-7.2)

And we also held a seat in Kingston-upon-Thames despite a strong Conservative challenge:

LDEM – 59.9% (+26.3)
CON – 26.1% (-4.8)
LAB – 8.5% (-14.1)
GRN – 3.3% (-9.7)
UKIP – 2.2% (+2.2)


It’s A Good Time To Get Involved.


At the moment the Lib Dems facebook pages and websites are rocking with the surprising news that party membership has soared since election day, and you can join here….

But if you want to help the local onlinefocus team without becoming a member we’d still like to hear from you. Locally we are already looking ahead to next years elections and beyond. We want to set up a group of people to help with our campaigning, but also to enjoy themselves , broaden their horizons , try something new and hopefully improve our community. If you want to help quietly with paperwork behind the scenes that would be great, but there are opportunities to stand for election if that’s what you want to do. Please email Chris at cllrchrisblack@gmail.com if you would like to get involved.