Letter from: Coun Carole Mulroney – Non Party Leigh Town Councillor.
SIR, Leigh has always prided itself on its free spirit and community.
I can point to many press reports of the 1910s when amalgamation with Southend was proposed/opposed quite vociferously and over the years there have been many arguments why Leigh should not come under Southend. The recent change to the electoral boundaries, in creating a new constituency where Leigh is specifically named, is a small triumph of recognition.
When Leigh Urban District folded in 1913 many felt Leigh would lose its identity and be swallowed up – indeed garish cartoons of the day graphically displayed this. But it didn’t – Leigh was always Leigh – a distinct and different town. Although the old enmity still sometimes surfaces, in general we rub along ok with our younger partner.
By 1996 the expansion of Leigh merited a move for a Town Council; a voice which would hopefully enhance and supplement the work of Southend Council.
It was a hard won battle, the outcome of which still rankles in the corridors of the Leadership of Southend. They deny it of course, but Leigh is seen as an irritant, a thorn that annoys them, and yet it works well within the City and gives Leigh’s 22,000 residents a voice, even if it is sometimes ignored.
Leigh Town Council was set up by people of all parties, and none, who had a passion for Leigh and wanted some autonomy for our still thriving town. Its powers are limited, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is it is there and it speaks up as much as it can for the residents and businesses of Leigh.
It was agreed in 1996 that it should be impartial to politics – and so it remained for 27 years.
This May that changed. (It had changed a little before that when a couple of Councillors declared themselves as Tories and asked to sit together (sweet!)).
Sadly, not enough independently minded people stood in the elections, which allowed a swathe of, largely unknown, Tories to take 13 of the seats on the Town Council, leaving just 3 non party councillors to speak for the residents and staff.
It’s a disaster, but it has had an up side. People may have dismissed the Town Council in the past, but not now – they are furious due to the Tories woeful ineptitude, arrogance, laziness and sheer incompetence. Many people asking are asking what is going on, can we boot them out?
At a meeting on 13 September about 70 residents voiced their dissatisfaction. It was a shambles, badly chaired, no defence of their position or hope that they would have a damascene awakening.
Despite their stated support for the Town Council many think their aim is to destroy it –– make it bad enough so residents turn against it and they can, like Androcles, pluck the thorn from the lion’s paw.
They treat staff appallingly, suspending the Town Clerk, blaming staff for their own failings, wasting tax payers’ money on unfounded allegations, including potential fraud – for which they have produced no evidence.
And finally, the ignominy of having ALL staff submit a grievance against them. How low can this administration go on dragging the Town Council down? Who knows, just when you think they have reached rock bottom – the hole gets deeper.
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