civic suite

Time For Paperwork

For councillors, the first two weeks after an election are a time for paperwork .

First of all, there’s a lot of stuff to read, especially if you are a new councillor.

Then there’s the group paperwork. You have to sign a document to say which group you want to be in. Oddly enough, if you are elected as a Conservative, or Rochford Resident, or Liberal Democrat or whatever, you are under no legal requirement to join that group on the council. In theory, you could defect immediately to another party, although that would be a pretty despicable thing to do.

There can be positive reasons to do something unexpected. For example for the last couple of years the Greens and the Rochford Residents Councillors have combined to form a joint group . This can give them more of a guarantee as to what seats on committees they can get , and it works for them.

And even official groups can choose their own names. It’s a bit like when your team turns up at a quiz night, you can give yourself whatever name you like. For example, the Conservatives could call themselves “The Rolling Stones” , and all the council documents would have to refer to them as such. Might look a bit silly though…

Then there’s the selection of group leaders and deputy leaders. We can exclusively reveal that for the Lib Dems, Chris Black is leader and Ron Oatham is the Deputy Leader for the civic year 2016-2017. What’s happening with the Tory Group is not clear, there have been one or two Freudian slips hinting at a change, but the Tories are remaining tight-lipped and we may be misreading things. In any case we should know on Friday evening.

There’s also the question of Chairman of the council. This year’s vice-chair, Jack Lawmon , was defeated in the elections, so someone is having to go straight to be Chair without being vice-chair first.


A Refreshingly Frank Review

Lib Dem Neil Monnery has written a very  frank review  of the Southend council elections here.

“The local elections are over and I’m more free to write about what has gone down and I have to say that whilst it was an extremely poor evening for the Lib Dems (bar the huge win in Leigh) it wasn’t a surprise. I think most people fully expected the party to lose Prittlewell and Blenheim Park, two seats we were defending and not be able to pick up much traction elsewhere. There are reasons for this which it would be unfair to go into in such a public forum but the results in terms of what happened to the Lib Dems went down pretty much exactly as expected.

Whilst the news has finally surfaced that the Conservatives two gains (at the expense of the Lib Dems in the above two wards) helped them into a position where they could run the council (either in coalition or with a confidence and supply, which is indeed now widely reported to be the case with the two UKIP councillors) they didn’t have a great night at all. Beating the Lib Dems in those wards isn’t anything to write home about.

The biggest result for them was hanging on to Southchurch from a strong independent challenge. Had they stolen Belfairs from the Indy’s or managed to navigate through the warring independents in Shoeburyness then you could say they were the winners of the night. As it was they did what they were supposed to do but nothing more. John Lamb may be set to run the council but with a majority of just one (when you take into account the two UKIP members who will back them up) then it is a very weak majority and Southend is in for two years of council struggles.

No the big winner was clearly Labour and this has sweet f… all to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the Corbynistas. It has to do with the fact their ground game is by far the most superior in the town. They have activists who go out come rain or shine throughout the year and engage with residents. You can have nothing but praise for them…

So the Lib Dems have a huge win in Leigh but suffered elsewhere in Southend? Sounds rather like our experience in Rochford where we were getting big  wins in Downhall and Rawreth but suffering elsewhere. But the tide is turning for us – after showing some perseverance we doubled our seats last week and hopefully that can happen for us in Southend too.

polling station sign

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?

polling station 2016


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


Congrats To “Feathering Your Nest” !

Congratulations to Lesley Dunne, Chris and the team at her Rayleigh High Street shop “Feathering Your Nest”.

They have just won “Independent Gift Retailer of The Year” for East Anglia at a glitzy event in London. Lesley’s shop is a fine example of a quality, independently owned business that’s been built up with hard work, flair and dedication. Plus lovely staff. It’s an asset to the High Street.

There are plenty of quality items around our district, not just gifts but food and other products. Maybe onlineFOCUS will do a feature towards the end of the year “50 good things to buy for Christmas”, selecting one item from 50 shops or similar premises….. to show you don’t have to buy online or elsewhere…

Chris and Lesley Dunne
Chris and Lesley Dunne

polling station 2016

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

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…



polling station 2016

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.



Shocking Robbery In Rayleigh High Street

A nasty story just published on the Echo website:

Three teenagers punched an elderly man and stole the money he was carrying outside a bank in Rayleigh.

The man was outside Lloyds Bank in the High Street between 11am and 12pm on Tuesday, April 19.

They punched his face and stole the money he was carrying. They then made off along Crown Hill towards the station.

The boys are described as white and aged in their mid-teens.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Dc Ben Broderick at Rayleigh CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

We do hope the victim is recovering OK. As a minor point , it would be interesting to know why this only just been published, over a fortnight after the event.


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.

Daffodils on the verge by Ferndale Road and Hullbridge Road

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who’s given us a smile or words of support during this campaign.

Such as the gentleman who was pulling out of his driveway, but saw one of us coming, reversed his car , parked it, and got out to shake hands, saying that he voted for another party nationally but liked what we were saying locally and would vote for us this time.

Such as the lady who had already cast her vote for all the Lib Dem candidates in her area and agreed to help deliver leaflets for us in the future.

Such as the new resident in Rayleigh who said she was voting for us – after previously living in a Conservative area she was glad to be somewhere where her vote could make a difference.

And our thoughts go out to the residents we’ve talked to , young and old, who are having especially difficult times at the moment for personal reasons.