LEIGH On Sea has, on a number of occasions in recent years, been voted amongst the best places to live in the UK.
This was not an accident, rather it has been as a direct consequence of the existence and efforts of Leigh Town Council, according to Independent City Councillor Martin Terry.
Coun Terry joined City and Leigh Town Councillor Carole Mulroney to give an exclusive interview to the Leigh On Sea News, focusing on Leigh Town Council.
Both expressed frustration at the current state of affairs within the council, but both were determined that the positive contribution, to the lives of local residents, that the Town Council has previously made and can continue to make, is something worth fighting for.
Looking back over the successes they feel the Council has achieved, Coun Terry said that in his experience: “Leigh is the envy of the City” and that quite a few other local parishes wish they had their own Town Councils too.
In a cost versus reward equation, Coun Terry said it was clear that not only was the value of property increased locally, because of the work done by the council since it’s inception, but that the strength of community spirit and improved quality of life, experienced by businesses and residents, was also something that in large part could be attributed to the council.
He highlighted the accumulated effect of many small things that the council has undertaken over the years, which he felt the City Council could not and does not do elsewhere, to evidence the value of a well functioning Town Council locally.
Both argued that, currently, the Town Council is not functioning well and pointed to the large majority of Conservative councillors sitting on the council to explain why.
However, Coun Mulroney said: “There’s nothing on Leigh Town Council that requires a political input, so the fact that we want flower baskets, doesn’t require me to be a Lib Dem to say that.”
She acknowledged that whilst she does ‘represent’ the Liberal Democrat Party at Southend City Council, she does not ‘represent’ the Liberal Democrats on Leigh Town Council, rather, she simply ‘represents’ the residents of Leigh there.
She highlighted that since it’s inception the council has had members of all political colours sitting as councillors. However, previously none had ‘represented’ the parties that they were members of. This had allowed them the freedom to vote according to what they personally believed was best for the residents of Leigh, which she believes they did, rather than in line with any party directive.
Now, with the majority of Councillors confirming that they represent the Conservative Party at the May elections, she feels that a conflict between party loyalty and the interests of local residents has and will continue to result in less favourable outcomes for Leigh’s residents.
Both Coun Mulroney and Coun Terry remain appalled and angry at what they believe is the unfair and improper treatment of council staff since the May elections, particularly the Town Clerk, Helen Symmons, who has now been suspended from her job for around 5 months.
Whilst confirming that neither knows what the allegations made against the Town Clerk are, Coun Mulroney was clear that, in her view, the matter has not been handled properly, in line with the council’s own rules, or with the appropriate level of care. In her view, the matter should have been resolved a long time ago.
Coun Mulroney, who currently does not have a seat on any of the Town Council’s committees, confirmed that whilst she may not like the political views of other councillors, she is eager to work with any who genuinely have the interests of Leigh residents as their priority. She also pointed out that being the longest serving councillor on the council, she has a great deal to offer in terms of experience and knowledge.
Coun Mulroney produced a long list of significant benefits Leigh Town Council is responsible for, adding, along with: “A hundred little things that happen everyday.”
She spoke passionately about her commitment to the town and the Council adding: “I have been a councillor for 17 years, working with people of all persuasions, I’ve been a city councillor for 11 years and a portfolio holder, where you have to work with everybody, you cannot be isolationist and when I was a portfolio holder, I treated whatever question that came to me from whoever it was, in the same way. I dealt with it.
“I know that there are people sitting on the leadership bench that I could work with. I know there are people sitting there that are unhappy with the situation.
“I will work with anybody who has Leigh as the centre focus of their heart and wants to improve it, wants to enhance it anymore.
“What I don’t see at the moment is anything coming forward (from the Conservative councillors) other than a mantra of, we don’t like this, we don’t like that, we’re changing this we’re changing that.
“So, that’s my promise, I’ll work with anybody that is willing to work for the benefit of Leigh and that’s what should be the priority.”
“This is not about me, this is about Leigh and if they don’t realise that then, they’re not listening.”
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