onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Conservatives

Yes, Minister….

Congratulations to Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge on becoming a minister in the Foreign Office, with responsibility for Africa.

He replaces James Simmonds, who has resigned, telling the Telegraph :

…. he was quitting as a Foreign Office minister and was standing down as an MP because he was unwilling to carry on staying in hotels while his family were hundreds of miles away in Lincolnshire…

The Ones Who Signed – And The Ones Who Didn’t

These are the 20 Conservative Councillors who signed the motion to abolish ordinary councillors’ rights to call in a decision to full council:

Cllrs T G Cutmore; Mrs C E Roe;
K H Hudson; D Merrick; I H Ward; M R Carter; M J Steptoe; Mrs L A Butcher;
Mrs M H Spencer; Mrs G A Lucas-Gill; Mrs J E McPherson; M Maddocks;
C G Seagers; K J Gordon; S P Smith; Mrs A V Hale; Mrs C A Weston;
R R Dray; Mrs J A Mockford and B T Hazlewood:-

 

and these 7 are the ones who haven’t signed:

Phil Capon
Tracy Capon
Heather Glynn
John Griffin
Jack Lawmon
Dave Sperring
Barbara Wilkins

Liberal Democrats ‘Call-In’ Lord Hanningfield Decision

lord-hanningfield

Breaking news from the County Council – Liberal Democrats at County Hall have ‘called in’ the decision by Essex County Council Tories not to pursue Lord Hanningfield in the Civil Courts. Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr. Mike Mackrory said:

“I called in this decision because I believe we owe it to the council taxpayers of Essex to scrutinise this decision. There is an overwhelming public interest here for justice to be seen to be done; the £51,000 originally claimed back is a token amount out of the total £288,000 claimed by him whilst Leader of the Council. Why should he get away with this when people who are in arrears with their council tax or people who have committed fraud against the council are relentlessly pursued through the courts? Why is there one rule for Lord Hanningfield and another for ordinary people?”

And Then There Were Two

blue rosette

Rayleigh Councillor Dave Sperring has now quit the Conservative Group to become an Independent Conservative.

It’s fair to say that he still regards himself as a Tory, he has simply had enough of the way the Tory group is run on the District Council. So now there are two Independent Conservatives on the District Council Dave Sperring and Toby Mountain – - and we wait to see if they form a council group.

Toby Mountain Resigns Conservative Whip

blue rosette

We heard last night that Toby Mountain, one of the Conservative councillors for Sweyne Park Ward in Rayleigh , has resigned from the Conservative Party Whip under the current leadership of Cllr Terry Cutmore.

It’s been clear for some time that various Conservative councillors in Rayleigh have been unhappy about various issues, and about the lack of discussion on some important topics. Toby was willing to speak up at last Full Council and say he couldn’t support the budget if it meant increasing car parking charges AND abolishing free Saturday afternoon parking.

Toby’s decision means he now becomes an Independent councillor, and the make-up of the council becomes:

Conservatives 30
Lib Dems 4
Greens 2
Rochford District Residents 2
Independent 1

It will be interesting to hear what Toby has to say in the council chamber on each issue.

An Interesting Night At Full Council – And June Lumley Is Vice-Chairman!

We had Full Council last night, a fairly straightforward half-hour of deciding who does what for the next year.

First of all Cllr Joan Mockford stepped down as chairman of the council. She has commendably  raised over £11000 for her chosen charities during her year. Joan had prepared some cheques -  £8000 to Southend Hospital (towards cancer research), £1500 to the Mushroom Theatre Company, £1500 for the local talking newspaper for the blind, and £770 to Holy Trinity Church.

Secondly, Cllr Barbara Wilkins, who has been vice-chairman, was elected Chairman. There was some interesting moments during her first moments in the Chairman’s Chair, as she is a petite lady and  needs a cushion! However Barbara is a very popular choice as chairman and we very much wish her well for her year in office. Her chosen charities were , she said, ” small local ones where a small amount of money makes a difference.” They are the local Multiple Sclerosis  society, the South Essex Youth Orchestra and the Ryan Tolley Leukaemia Trust Fund.

And then we elected the new-chairman, who normally becomes chairman one year later. This decision lies completely in the control of the Conservative Group, who vote on this in one of their private group meetings beforehand.  Rather unusually , and to their credit, the Conservatives proposed a Liberal Democrat – June Lumley. Naturally we are delighted by this, and see it as deserved recognition of June’s work on the District Council, the Town Council and especially with local voluntary groups. Responding to the nomination, Chris Black said: ‘The words’ grace’ and intelligence’ come to mind. The nomination was made with grace and intelligence, and I’m sure June will show her usual grace and intelligence in her new civic duties”

June Lumley

 

The New Men At The Top

Although the Conservatives took a battering last Thursday, they are still in control of Essex County Council. They have just chosen a new leader and deputy leader, to replace their previous leader who stepped down.

The new leader is David Finch, who was previously deputy leader and represents Hedingham. Rather confusingly, according to the County Council, his home address is Blacksmiths Cottage
Borley, Nr Sudbury , Suffolk. But it seems that the village of Borley is indeed just inside the boundaries of Essex.

The new deputy leader is Kevin Bentley, who represents Stanway and Pyefleet and lives on Mersea Island.

Misleading And A Bit Arrogant

We are a bit amused by the Conservative leaflet for Rayleigh South, which shows a picture of their candidate with the caption “John is a Familiar Figure”. Because he lives in Chelmsford , so he is hardly a familiar figure here. Totally misleading.

And actually, it’s a bit arrogant as well.
Even people who have lived here for 50 years wouldn’t be so boastful as to claim to be a ‘Familiar figure”!
Who writes their election leaflets?

A Question For Mr Hilton Brown, Conservative Agent

Good morning Hilton,

We know you sometimes read onlinefocus and have left comments here in the past. However we have seen the leaflet from your candidate in Rayleigh South , John Flack, and it doesn’t give his home address!?

The last address we can find for him on  the web in this news article here  where his address was Stebbing, near Braintree.

Where is his home now?

Best Wishes

Chris Black

Peter Webster Resigns

There has been another resignation by a Conservative District councillor – this time it is by Peter Webster, who was elected for Whitehouse Ward in Rayleigh. Peter is a former Conservative leader of the Council. Many of us will miss the fierce political debates we’ve had with him. Though the Lib Dems have had many political disagreements with Peter, he has always been good natured towards us personally.

Peter is unable to carry on for personal reasons, and we send Peter and his wife Councillor Mavis Webster our best wishes.

“Anyone who votes to put them back into office next May is mad.”

Simon Heffer has written about Essex County Council  today in The Daily Mail:

Tory-controlled Essex County Council decided this week not to sue their disgraced former leader Lord Hanningfield for the £287,000 of ratepayers’ money he spent flying around the world with cronies and dining in style.

This is a rash move. In four and a half months, the council is up for re-election.

I am appalled that Essex Tories have such a cavalier view of financial accountability. Anyone who votes to put them back into office next May is mad.

Did they take this view about Hanningfield because some of them, too, have things on their conscience?

 

Hat-tip: Nick Barlow

 

 

 

 

More News About Lord Hanningfield……

The BBC reports that the former Tory leader of Essex County spent £286,000 on his council card over 5 years . He was forced to pay back over £30,000:

In publishing logs of his credit card spending, the council confirmed Lord Hanningfield had been able to sign off his own spending.The peer’s card use from 2005 to 2010 lists thousands of transactions, including spending on flights, train journeys, meals and hotel stays which amount to £286,000 in total.

 

Lord Hanningfield’s spend on the credit card included

  • £ 9,396 on flights to the US for himself and a council officer and £4,614 on flights to Shanghai.
  • £3,840 for five people to stay at the four-star Norfolk Royale, Bournemouth (length of stay not specified).
  • £2.89 at a noodle bar in Mumbai.
  • £61.95 on “books for travel”.
  • £217.54 Dinner for two in Brussels
  • £230 on a day at Goodwood racecourse.
  • £1,180 accommodation for three people at Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa in Hampshire (length of stay not specified)
  • £467 Dinner for Lord Hanningfield and two other lords at Gordon Ramsey restaurant in London
  • £18.99 charger for his phone
  • £2,000 on food, travel and accommodation, Labour Party conference
  • £540.25 Dinner at 15 in Cornwall (Jamie Oliver restaurant)
  • £518.25 The following night, dinner at Seafood restaurant, Padstow (Rick Stein’s restaurant)
  • £736 Christmas lunch in Chelmsford for council officers
  • £8,051 Flights to CGLF conference for Lord Hanningfield and officer (destination unspecified)
  • £23.27 for lunch at Thelma and Louise café in Sydney
  • £538.78 House of Lords dinner for borough mayor, LH and two others
  • £3.06 drinks claim while on US trip
  • £120 Accommodation for chauffeur, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
  • £372.40 on Limousine hire
  • £905.60 Dinner at Lib Dem Conference
  • £107 on drinks for four in Hot Springs, USA
  • £544 drinks bill for one month in House of Lords
  • £5,274.51 on accommodation in India


And what about other Conservative County Councillors?

An internal audit report published on Thursday by the county council reveals wider concerns about the use of corporate credit cards dating back to 2003.

At one stage there were 12 cards held by senior figures at the Conservative-run council.
The 2008 report said: “Whilst no misuse of council resources has been evidenced, the lack of supporting documentation and detail of card expenditure means that it cannot be said that there is no inappropriate card expenditure.
“There has been much use of corporate cards exceeding the authority’s guidelines for use and travel and subsistence policy.”
The report said in a sample of 31 authorised credit card transaction logs covering a three month period, 25 (80%) included expenditure which was either not in accordance with the council’s guidelines or supported by invoices or receipts.

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