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Leigh On Sea News: Points Of  View – Re: Leigh Town Council.

Leigh On Sea News: Points Of  View – Re: Leigh Town Council.

Points Of  View – Re: Leigh Town Council.

Points Of  View – Re: Leigh Town Council.

Letter from – Couns Bernard Arscott & Sandra McCurdy, Leigh Town Council.

SIR, there have been many comments made on various social media platforms about Leigh-on-Sea Town Council and its Conservative Councillors.

1- Closure of the Community Centre – This is not true as was declared vehemently at the Council meeting on 25th October 2023. There is no way to counter this when there are people dedicated to perpetuating untruths and have prevented the Conservative Councillors from responding to these comments. We are blocked or moderated from posting replies, to posting once a week, so what can we do to counter this narrative?

2- Over Sixties Club – We were pleased to be able to respond to a petition from members of Council’s Over-60s Club who wanted reassurance that the Club will continue. We are more than happy to confirm that the Club will continue into the future, as long as this Council exists. However, it is worth noting that of the 49 people who responded to this petition, 45% came from outside the Leigh-on-Sea Town Council area. While we welcome all users, it would be great to welcome more over-60s who could benefit from this Club and already contribute to its running through their precept. We will be having conversations about how we can further develop this service by expanding menus and other offerings. It is disappointing that somebody felt the need to cause undue distress amongst our over-60s who are vulnerable, and regard this service as an important element of their lives by perpetuating a malicious untruth.

3- To our detractors – the electoral system in this country is first past the post, and since there was only one candidate for each of those seats, that candidate was returned unopposed and is deemed to be legally elected. It is wrong to say that it is undemocratic when it was the incompetence and ineptitude of our opponents’ failure to field candidates. Democracy 101 folks! However, some of our Councillors won their seats fair and square. AND, some of our detractors know this, as several of their number stood for seats and lost.

4- Allotments – Why would any one think that we planned to get rid of the Allotments when they are protected by law? What those who criticise do not seem to realise is they are dealing with educated and well-informed Councillors, who do understand the rule of law. We have apparently an alleged solicitor up against us. Surely that person should be aware of the law?

5- Malicious phone calls and emails – For those who are doing this, please stop. It is extremely unpleasant to receive nasty phone calls with sexual innuendo as a means to putting across a political point. Talk to the Councillors. They have never indicated that they are not prepared to meet their detractors, and using the floor of a Council meeting, when nothing positive can be achieved, is not the Forum for open and honest discourse.

6- Non-residents commenting on Leigh-on-Sea matters. Who are these people that do not pay a precept, but have the temerity to comment on matters when they do not have anything to gain from comment? Even worse they do not have a democratic say in the running of Leigh-on-Sea. Yet, they believe it is acceptable to state publicly that they will campaign and intimidate until the democratically elected Councillors are forced to resign. This matter will also be put into the hands of the Police if these individuals do not cease and desist because we know who they are.

7- The Town Clerk & Staff Grievance – As we have previously stated, we are not in a position to discuss either of these two matters. The Town Clerk, despite reports to the contrary, is very well aware of the basis for her suspension. The staff grievance, while we abhor bullying, and stated such at the recent Council meeting, seems to be an openly discussed matter as a result of the UNISON press release, but to-date the Council has not received a formal grievance. How can it comment, or assure staff of something it knows nothing about? While there has been significant demands for these matters to be openly and publicly debated, we are not at liberty to discuss confidential staff matters, or make public comment on them. How would any reader feel if their

employer decided to discuss a disciplinary matter with a third party without consent and knowledge. It would surprise us, if this was acceptable to anyone.

Editor – we hope our detailed update reassures your readers of our commitment to Leigh-on-Sea Town Council residents and we urge them to get in touch, if they have anything they wish to discuss.


Letter from: Coun Alan Hart, Leigh Town Council.

SIR, with reference to the letter from Leigh Town Council Chair Bernard Arscott in last Leigh News, I’m sure readers will be aware that any attempt at ‘putting the record straight’ must be considered to be a matter of opinion and potential bias.

Since the letter and its wide ranging nature was not agreed at Council and is therefore no more than a statement from the Conservative ‘group’ on the Council, I submit my responses to the statements made as a reluctant member of the obliged, but un-willing ‘opposition group’ of Independents.

Community Centre – countering rumours can only be successfully achieved in an atmosphere of trust, in the absence of that and with disregard for proper protocol regarding holding committee meetings and recording of minutes for those meetings that do take place, such trust is difficult to achieve. Rumours will abound in a situation of pre-emptive secrecy and lack of transparency.

Over Sixties Club (and Allotments) – the same points as above apply here, as well as to the suspicion of undercover plans for the allotments.

The very fact that 49 people signed a petition of concern should be shocking enough, the suggestion that half of those were not from the LTC area implies that we are some kind of exclusive club, certainly in the case of the Over 60’s Club itself this should not be the case.

It is to be hoped that the proposed conversations regards developing the Club, presumably welcoming those from wider Southend, will be held in public and not by outside Party group meetings.

Allotments – your heading ‘group’ – I ask merely have the ‘educated and well informed’ councillors undertaken any of the available training for their posts?

Detractors – no-one is immune from criticism and the electoral system is what it is. Perhaps, and only perhaps, the experience of LTC having four yearly elections rather than a proportion of Councillors being held to account on their record and having to be re-elected more frequently shows that there are benefits and disadvantages in both systems.

As I have stated elsewhere, the public must decide through consultation, which system makes Councillors more accountable.

Certainly we have ‘first past the post’ format in elections, however to put the record straight as to numbers last May – nine candidates were returned unopposed, mainly due to retirement by previous members, three un-aligned remained, defeating Party challengers, and four such Party people managed to get elected.

Whilst acknowledging that I first came to my position un-opposed, it can hardly be described as classic democracy. I find myself questioning who were the ‘opponents’ who failed to field candidates to an up-to-now politics free Council and who would have expected a gross challenge to end that non-party status.

Malicious etc – where has this come from ? ‘Talk to the Councillors’ who hold back information and pre-empt official meetings behind closed doors, to the exclusion of those who do not wear blue rosettes.

If Council meetings are not the place to raise issues, propose solutions and hear public comment, then where should it happen? Perhaps adherence to the Committee meetings timetable and issue of agenda and minutes in good time would help!

Non-residents – if the general public cannot attend and voice concerns, perhaps it should be questioned as to the home address of Councillors and to ask whether they pay the precept when living beyond LTC borders? Perhaps an enquiry into this and eligibility to stand in the first place would be of value?

If of course candidates from outside LTC wish to stand and take a valued part in proceedings, as long as they have Leigh folk at heart, then that is of course welcomed. if open and up front. This is how skills get imported.

Town Clerk suspension and staff grievences – since there are two grievances, the total of these would be three. Town Clerk suspension is now running into it’s forth month, with an immoral and probably unconstitutional open ended period with no end date.

Staff grievances were submitted early October, if the Group appointed locum cannot keep the Group informed of it’s offences, then something is faulty in communication. Perhaps a new locum would be advisable?

It would be unethical to discuss these matters in public, however only two of the total number of Councillors are unaware of the details of the suspension issues. In that case any Councillor having prior knowledge of the case is eliminated from a judiciary panel to decide the matter, passing that responsibility outside the Council rather than issuing dispensations to enable ‘the marking of one’s own homework’.

Editor – reassurance is in short supply and contact with Councillors who attempt to end public input, by trying to adjourn meetings that do occur, prematurely, if not for the interjection of the second locum Town Clerk, brings me back to the earlier matter of trust.

By all means check out the website, in the absence of minutes and magazine, and attend meetings to see where the concern for Leigh residents lies. Editor – my thanks for providing a forum for debate and clarification.


Letter from: Coun Mark Flewitt, Elms Ward, Leigh Town Council, Chair of Community & Culture Committee.

SIR, I wanted to publicly thank those who took the time to attend the recent Community & Culture meeting just the other week.

The Allotment Society, Artists in Residence, local councillor Paul Gilson and the Baptist Minister who talked to us about a potential piece of youth work that could be provided to Leigh young people. The minister is the curate from St Alban’s, Westcliff. The project is joint with Avenue Baptist Church.

Yes, with over 20 members of the public present, including political activists and future councillor candidates, it was eclectic, to say the least.

So much ground was covered, including the expenditure of CIL money, (Community Infrastructure Levy) upon the Leigh Town Community, from bleed kits, defibrillators, seed provision, bins and historical local plaques.

Reports, there were too few. No Locum Clerk, no official and little support. We had the benefit of an experienced Town Councillor, but sadly this help was at a cost, barbed comments and “doomsday” talk.

At times I and colleagues had to remind ourselves that this was a Town Council and not an opportunity to cause yet more discord because of a serious legal issue (in progress).

Shameless attempts were made to bait and stop the meeting, a Town Council deserves better than that and I was able to cover nearly every item on the agenda and prevent a minority from high jacking it, all within one and a half hours.


Letter from: Jean de Tourtoulon, Woodside, Leigh.

SIR, on October 31 I attended Leigh Town Council’s Community and Culture Committee, the committee had 4 councillors in attendance chaired by Coun Flewitt, minuted by Coun Arscott (their was not clerk available to attend,) Coun Mccurdy and Coun Lloyd , Coun Mulroney was allowed to present questions, but wasn’t part of the committee.

It was very apparent to me and to others why there is no confidence in Leigh Town Council and residents are right to be concerned.

Had Coun Mulroney not been in attendance the meeting would have been over much sooner than it was as Coun Flewitt muddled through the agenda.

Like the other Council meetings Coun Mulroney had to keep challenging or informing the committee of important information, not a great way for her to be treated with 16 years of being on the Town Council, the committee is made up of newly elected councillors, with only Coun Arscott with 2 years, he was unable to demonstrate any knowledge of the items presented on the agenda.

We were huddled into a small room with the door closed, several attendees complained about the unhealthy environment, it was extremely hot and no air was circulating, I asked to open the door, Coun Mccurdy immediately declined my request, not in a polite way, luckily an attendee asked a representative to open the door, this time it wasn’t challenged.

The LTC magazine was ‘glossed ‘ over , it wouldn’t be generated this quarter, Coun Mulroney had to advise how it is produced, who is involved and it’s purpose. Without her and the Town Clerk (who remains suspended), I can’t help but be concerned about its future and whether it will even be produced in 2024.

When it came to discuss what LTC had arranged for Christmas, again the chair had no idea and was about to go to the next item, Coun Mulroney had to interject, she read off an impressive list of things that had been arranged, details and reasons why some had been changed.

At the end Coun Flewit found the list in his paperwork, he apologised and proudly read it, it was like one-up-manship, he failed to realise he should have been familiar as the chair with all his paperwork.

None of these events can be circulated in the non existent magazine so social media or the press at present will be the only way to know about them, I will do my upmost to promote as usual.

A few other things were presented, as the public aren’t allowed to question it is difficult for many especially me not to respond. A proposal for wild flowers seeds to be purchased and sown in the community, I wanted to advise they didn’t need to purchase them as the Woodlands centre have given them away. I am in favour and have sown them myself sadly with no success. Coun Alyen on the Belfairs Ward has been working for over a year on the 21 bus route with the bus company perhaps they could work together?

At the end of the meeting I asked Coun Mulroney why she wasn’t on the committee, she advised that she wasn’t allowed, one of the committee responded ‘she wasn’t voted in’ ; of course that’s it, with the 13 tory councillors voting Coun Mulroney and those other independents have no voice, their knowledge and experience accounts for nothing, they will have to continue trying to get their voices heard, with Couns Arscott and Flewitt reacting negatively towards them.

In my opinion this is bullying at it’s worse, the council is now dominated by the tory machine that has created an excessive imbalance of power, staff have raised bullying complaints, it appears no one is safe, until they work together and respect the 3 independents on this ‘non political council ‘ LTC is doomed.



Letter from: C. Willoughby, Leigh.

SIR, following Wednesday’s finance meeting, I believe that either the Chair of Leigh Town Council or Councillor Murat Agdeve might be issuing an apology via Leigh News for the distress caused to staff and the cost of initiating a Forensic Accountant’s Review into  ‘potential fraud’ at the Council.

At Wednesday’s meeting, it was declared ‘no fraud nor any potential fraud’ was identified by the Forensic Accountant.

In case the apology is deemed unnecessary or perhaps rebranded as a ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘an opportunity to improve controls’, this is why the Review and the additional cost were initiated: “There are a few items that jumped out at me”(said) Councillor Agdeve at the Town Council Meeting 13.09.23 in respect of the Council’s expenditure report.  “…I would like to propose that the Council resolve to have the accounts forensically investigated to identify any fraud that may be taking place and prevent any future fraud.”

This is a serious matter to raise against the staff at a public meeting without having first verified concerns with all the councillors, with staff or independently. On reflection, Councillor Agdeve shouldn’t just apologise, but resign.


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