Letter from: Coun Mark Flewitt, Borman Close Leigh.
SIR, the most positive piece of news, for me, was hearing that Dr Vijay Patel OBE had stepped forward and amazingly funded the Andrew Lilley sculpture of the late Sir David Amess, with an overwhelming £48k.
I’m more than delighted, as I had brief contact with Andrew a while ago and had hoped that Leigh Town Council could have made just a small contribution and that the statue could have found a home in Leigh.
Recently, at the Leigh Town Council Communities meeting, when I suggested a small contribution, Coun Mulroney made it perfectly clear that she did not want the statue in Leigh, she stated there were plaques and that was that.
Just a short time later, I heard the news. I suppose there will be differences of opinion as to the statues siting, but the fact it will happen, likely on the late MP’s birthday, is very satisfying.
Letter from: Priscilla Scott Crescent Road, Leigh.
SIR, as a regular swimmer at Belfairs Swimming Pool I and many others are increasingly frustrated by the lack of maintenance by Fusion.
Of the six showers one has no lock, one no light and one is persistently flooded. There have been no pre swim showers for months.
The pool temperature varies from hot to cold on a regular basis and trying to claim a refund is well nigh impossible.
Any communication with Fusion is ignored. Maybe this will jolt them into action
Anna Firth has been very helpful in gaining promise of improvements.
Letter from: Lloyd Muse, Warren Road, Leigh.
SIR, re the Motorhomes and Camper Vans that are parked along Blenheim Chase.
There are no parking restrictions along that section of road. The vehicles are parked on the side of the road backing directly onto fields and in front of thick bushes and trees, so are not blocking anyone’s view from their properties.
So, as long as these vehicles are roadworthy, i.e. taxed, MOT’d and insured, they are doing nothing wrong, and breaking no laws.
Now, the towing caravan that has recently appeared is a different kettle of fish. These vehicles should not be left on a public highway and it needs to be removed swiftly, either by the owner or the Council.
Letter from: Jill Conibeer. Berkeley Gardens, Leigh
SIR, the occupants of a house at the rear of my garden have taken to feeding seagulls, which swoop down several times a day, accompanied by cacophonous squawking, resembling scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’
When will people realise such a practice constitutes, in a residential area, anti-social behaviour and, further, entices vermin to feast upon the residue?
Foxes are well on the way to colonising our urban areas due to indiscriminate feeding and now seagulls are being encouraged to follow suit.
Letter from: Peter Wexham Leigh ward Councillor and Environmentalist – Tory U turn on the Environment.
SIR, after Cop 27 Britain was going to lead the world on` Climate Change` showing the world how to get carbon neutral.
Now the Tory Government are rowing back on all the promises, including new oil and gas wells around our coast and it will do little to help sustain our Country. The reserves and seabed are British, but the licenses given to private companies, owned mainly by foreign companies, will see the oil and gas on the international open market, making huge profits for the companies. We will get a percentage of the revenue under the terms of the license.
This can only lead to thousands of tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere.
They still refuse to build wind turbines on shore and have extended the life of fossil using boilers and cars and lorries, these original dates were only a cut off point for selling these items, they would still have a life of ten or twenty years before being scrapped.
So how can Britain now tell the third world that they must stop producing oil and gas and go green when we are doing the opposite.
Locally the Tories are doing the same with the local environment and Climate Change.
The Council should put aside green areas and plant wild flowers and seeds for all the insects that pollinate the plants, as well as the food we grow. A lot of grass and flower seeds feed the small birds and mammals throughout the winter, now the Tories are just going back to mowing lawns and using pesticides in the streets.
They promised things at the last election that they knew would be unsustainable under the new tender for the cleansing contract. They stopped the charge to park on the seafront in the evenings at Southend, so people going to clubs and pubs will not have to pay to park whilst the bill for social care is spiralling out of control, with millions of pounds overspend on assisting the elderly and children in care.
During my time on the environment we spent money back from the landfill tax on about 50 environmental projects, from trees and hedgerows to wetland and wildflower features in our parks, accepted the site of special interest and special protected areas and other designations on our foreshore, to protect the natural environment and stop developers building on the foreshore.
I campaigned to stop the Tories last big scheme, which was to build the regional casino on the mud flats around the area of the Casino between Rossi`s and the Pier and out as far as the Ray, with the option of tower block flats for the very rich with all round views.
Happily David Amess could see the writing on the wall over that and joined with me to get the Tory administration to drop the scheme.
I campaigned for a secondary treatment works and extended outfall with a diffuser on the end of the main sewer discharge that now goes about two miles out into the River by Anglian water to improve the sea water, but this again needs upgrading with all the developments the Government have allowed across the town.
The Government have allowed big bonuses to foreign owned water companies instead of providing high quality public service, there is still to much sewerage being discharged into our rivers and seas.
I got the Towns engineers to look at other options for the sea defence at Southend and we put in the beach to break up the waves, rather than concrete and steel to raise the seawalls, this is known as soft engineering instead of hard engineering.
I talked with the minister for the Environment, Elliott Morley, to get the sea defences repaired around Two Tree Island when the Council had ignored the problem of pollutants leaching into the river and I am fighting a battle now at Tilbury, where the seawall has been washed away and the rubbish behind it is getting into the river on every tide.
Yet the powers that you would think would be in control, the Environment agency just say ‘not me gov’ it’s someone else`s problem and say it’s Thurrock Council, who are broke, or the Tory run County Council.
Street trees are a concern when they are seen to be taken out for no proper reason. Trees have always had problems with rot getting into the timber and were alright until visual signs showed and taking branches off would take place, but now the trees across the City are being inspected with a scanning device that finds problems long before they would show visually. Once the council knows there is a problem they have to sort it out. This is taking years off the life of the tree by cutting it down and it takes years for a sapling to grow and give the leaf cover of a standard tree.
Take the Sherwood Oak, assumed to be over 1,000 years old, over years storms have broken off branches of this pollard oak letting in water and rotting the timber, but the outer edge is the live part and the raising sap still keeps the tree going.
You cannot do this where people could get hurt, but a bit of rot should not mean the tree is unsustainable.
Climate Change and the natural environment affect all of us and it is no good just leaving it for future generations, the plants, insects, birds and small mammals are all part of the food chain and biodiversity of our Country and planet and we must protect our wildlife.
I have tried to make the City and Leigh a better place than when I found it. I have not achieved that, but I hope it is better than it would have been if I had just left it to the Tories over my lifetime.
Letter from: Alan Hart, Randolph Close, Leigh.
SIR, ‘Leigh Town Council is an absolute shambles’, so says an influential observer. This speaks for itself and generated a comment from Town Council Chair Bernard Arscott to the effect that the extra cost of yet another locum Town Clerk would be met from reserves, a misuse of those funds and unnecessary had the suspension of the real Town Clerk been settled in good time.
Delay is ‘not good’ (quoting Chair) for Town, Council or Town Clerk – the latter having been on suspension under unqualified grounds for nearly four months. A further locum Town Clerk should not be necessary at such expense and some out of touch Councillors seem to have no idea of the damage they are instigating.
Southend City Council has launched an Election Consultation, which invites response from the public on a previously publicised opportunity to consider whether the current local election frequency should remain as is, re-electing one third of City Councillors for three years followed by a fallow year, or changing to full Council elections every four years.
In the name of accountability and to avoid potential stagnation, I cite the scenario currently in place at Leigh Town Council, where an influx of Party members has caused severe disruption to normal Town Council business with no chance of refreshing for four years. It may be considered from this experience that the current process at City may be the best option. You can enter the consultation on ‘yoursay.southend/election-cycle-survey-2023’, by phone to 01702 212969 or email your views to [email protected].
It has now been unilaterally declared that Leigh Town Council is in talks to take over the Community Centre currently leased from City.
This is the first notification of any such move and comes after a public announcement that there are no plans to ‘sell the Centre’, which Town does not own and which has not been discussed at any level with Leigh Town Council as a whole, except presumably within ‘group’ political gatherings outside of formal Council meetings. Regarding funds here, would any savings go to services or to cover a further locum Town Clerk awaiting the settlement of the above mentioned suspension?
We come full circle, when will this travesty end ?
Letter from: Roger Fisher, Oakleigh Park Drive, Leigh. Leigh Town Council
SIR Being a Leigh resident I recently attended the latest Leigh Town Council Meeting on the 29 November. Yet again this Meeting was well attended by many fellow residents, but was sadly another appallingly shambolic and angry meeting.
No Agreed Minutes for previous Full Council Meetings since the Annual Council Meeting back in May have been published on the Council’s website, or even been available for Public Meetings.
Public Questions submitted in due time as required were prevented from being asked, disregarded and left unanswered. The investigation by an Independent Adjudicator into the long serving Town Clerk, Helen Symmons’ suspension by the controlling Conservative Group has been ongoing since the summer and the Investigating Adjudicator should have reported by now and the matter resolved.
In the meantime a Locum Town Clerk has been appointed as a further senior member of staff at additional cost.
Leigh Town Council functioned quite well for many years with any Party politics left at the door, until it became politicised when the Conservatives took control in May and at a stroke killed off the non-political operation of Leigh Town Council. This untenable situation cannot continue, the residents of Leigh deserve better, much better.
Letter from: Independent Southend City Coun Martin Terry.
SIR, I attended the Leigh Town Council meeting last night (30/11/23), which has now sadly become a one-party Tory dictatorship.
Many of these Tories were elected unopposed, no votes cast.
Mike King, former elder statesman of Leigh, who saved Leigh Old Town for posterity from the bulldozers, set up Leigh Town Council with a local referendum specifically saying it should be run as a non-party political entity, stopping interference from Southend City Council. Personally, I have been an Independent City Councillor for 20 years and I remain strongly believing that local councils should not be ruled by Westminster Political Party’s.
The meeting was a total shambles with attendee’s shut down from speaking, serious questions unanswered, lack of integrity, minutes missing, accounts missing, misleading information published on the Council website and taxpayers’ money wasted on a false fraud allegation that could be resolved over a cup of tea.
This Tory lot have been dumped on the people of Leigh for 4 years and it appears they are dumping on them. At this juncture you may wish to take part on the Southend Council consultation, which is considering changing Southend City elections to a 4-year cycle. Many electors I speak to say it is essential to be able to hold people to account on an annual basis or what is happening in Leigh could happen in Southend City elections. Have your say either way here on the Southend City Council website; Election Cycle Consultation 2023 (yoursay.southend.gov.uk/election-cycle-survey-2023).
Letter from: City Coun Carole Mulroney. Leigh Ward, Liberal Democrat.
SIR, remember COP26? Well we all got fired up about such an event taking place in the UK, but it turned out to be a damp squib – and who remembers COP27?
Now, with the Prime Minister due to attend COP28 , after months of dumbing down the environment in the UK to “also ran” status, suddenly the Prime Minister is starting a pro-environment drive centred around trees, but issuing new licences for oil and gas drilling at the same time.
It took the wilful destruction of that magnificent tree at Sycamore Gap in Northumberland to make Rishi realise he is on to a winner here. I bet the Greens are envious of his power to direct traffic.
Many of us love trees – and the wilful destruction of them is an abomination – but as in all things there has to be a balance. If your house is falling down – even a Green house, because of a tree, which nothing could be done about, wouldn’t you want it removed?
Wouldn’t you be looking to sue the Council if they did nothing? Of course you would. We are all human and we all look after our own – it’s only natural, but I have watched in despair the complete removal of trees from local gardens, the sound of the chain saw ringing in my ears.
So, Rishi, £15M is great for national parks and national landscape. Well, we don’t have a national park or a defined national landscape in Southend, although it is worth putting some money into. But the local Tories are slashing the parks budget.
When I was Cabinet Member for ‘trees’ I got hammered by the Greens about greatly exaggerated tree removals. Despite the fact that our administration planted far more trees than the Tories had ever done. The Green councillor crows about his tree motion going through. Well it was supported by all, so hardly a coup.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and when push comes to shove – will the Tories actually honour it? They are in cut and burn mode at the moment – parks, libraries, children’s centres.
So don’t let’s get too carried away with Rishi’s green initiative locally – don’t forget, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Letter from: Jean de Tourtoulon Woodside, Leigh.
SIR, I was asked to head a group to support the residents of Leigh following the farce, which is now Leigh Town Council.
I thought hard about the name and with support called it ‘looking after Leigh on sea ‘, there were several suggestions which reflected its present state, but we didn’t want anything aggressively sounding and just want to resolve the situation.
Looking after Leigh on sea now has 226 members, we had a very successful meeting on November 19 at Leigh Community, the room was full and included our 3 independent councillors, 2 city councillors one being Aston Line in response to my email, I think the latter was equally as concerned especially after hearing residents speaking out, a big thanks to them and the faithful LTC councillors, the 3 musketeers.
The meeting was so successful residents have requested a follow up on 17 December, 14.00 at Leigh Community Centre.
Our group and other concerned residents attend meetings and will continue to do , the meetings are well attended, in fact packed, however there is no change in the way it functions, the meetings are not effectively chaired, residents are not respected, their questions are not answered and given when advised they will receive it in writing within a few days they don’t.
We have written to Anna Firth who is supportive of Coun Arscott and the Tories being ‘in control ‘ however she is not able to do anything about it.
We have written individually to several agencies, Coun Tony Cox head of Southend Council, and their monitoring officer. We are awaiting responses, I haven’t even received acknowledgements.
We remain supportive of the Town Clerk whose suspension was made public, confidentiality was breached, insinuations made etc. She has been suspended since August, 4 months at a great cost to the budget over £12,000 up to last month’s, but this has increased considerably.
Minutes of meetings since July not made, agreed and posted on the website, there obviously is concern about their accuracy being produced months later.
A petition has been set up, see attached we have over 400 signatures asking for resignations of councillors making false allegations. See attached.
Letter From: Couns Kevin Bentley, Leader of Essex County Council, Tony Cox, Leader of Southend City Council and Andrew Jeffries, Leader of Thurrock Council.
SIR, your recent article reporting a question from Mark Francois MP on the devolution of Government powers and budgets to Greater Essex (the Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea City Council and Thurrock Council areas) and the creation of a Combined Authority to oversee them unfortunately contained some inaccuracies, which we are happy to set the record straight on.
It stated: “A combined authority would represent a fourth tier of local government in Essex above 1. Town/Parish, 2. District/Borough/ City and 3. Essex County Council itself.”
This is incorrect. Devolution would not change council structures or council powers in Essex. We and the Government have been very clear that devolution is not about local government reorganisation. Our councils would remain fully independent, sovereign bodies under any devolution deal.
The article goes on to state the Combined Authority would “…mean more politicians, more officers, and more bureaucracy.” Again, this is untrue. There would be no new elected members for the Combined Authority.
It would make use of existing resources and it would have no tax raising powers. In fact, the devolution deal involves commitment from government to millions of pounds of additional capital funding into Essex that will be lost without a deal.
The claim devolution would “override local wishes, for instance, over the sensitive issues of planning and housing development” is also inaccurate. The Combined Authority would have no involvement in local plan making, or development control.
Devolution is all about the transfer of powers and funding from national to local government. It ensures decisions are made closer to the local people, communities and businesses they affect. It enjoys the support of the Chambers of Commerce, the Universities, health bodies, and many others – all of whom understand that without a devolution deal, Essex runs the risk of missing out compared to other parts of the country.
If we are able to negotiate a deal with government, then any decision to proceed would be subject to full public consultation, so your readers would be able to see the facts for themselves and have their say before anything is decided.
Contact us. Email: [email protected]