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Leigh On Sea News. Political Viewpoint - Political Viewpoint by Coun Bernard Arscott, Chairman of Leigh Town Council.

Leigh On Sea News. Political Viewpoint – Political Viewpoint by Coun Bernard Arscott, Chairman of Leigh Town Council.

Political Viewpoint - Political Viewpoint by Coun Bernard Arscott, Chairman of Leigh Town Council.

Political Viewpoint by Coun Bernard Arscott, Chairman of Leigh Town Council.

I AM grateful to the Editor of this newspaper for inviting me to contribute the Political Viewpoint article in this edition, rather than focusing on National and City politics I wish to give some flavour of what is happening at a more local level.

It is now nearly three months since the Local Elections in May, which resulted in 13 out of 16 seats being taken by the Conservative Party.

In the aftermath of those elections Southend City Council changed from coalition of various parties to a Conservative Administration.

All of the Conservative councillors on Leigh Town Council are committed to working on behalf of all the residents, irrespective of your political allegiance.

Leigh Town Council has traditionally been regarded as non-political, yet those who have been most opposed to the outcome the elections have all (with maybe the odd exception) pledged supporters of other political parties; if they are so unhappy with the results, they should have put forward candidates standing on their own manifesto.

There remains two Independent and one Non-aligned Liberal Democrat councillors, whom we invite to support us where they feel appropriate in our vision of Leigh.

The Town Council has limited resources and has traditionally hosted a number of events throughout the year, including the Leigh Lights Christmas parade, Carols on Strand Wharf, Leigh Maritime Festival, and has also provided the hanging baskets in Leigh.

Unfortunately, a decision was made (before the current Administration took office) to reduce the current scheme from 88 to 40 baskets, which have been disappointing and have garnered some criticism on social media.

Next year, through careful efficiency and closely working with local businesses and residents, we hope that the scheme will be returned to its former glory and add some much-appreciated colour to our main shopping areas.

We stood on a platform of reinstating some of the events that have been cut in recent years; it will take time to reinstate such events as the Carols on Strand Wharf and other activities over the next few months and years. With the current Conservative Administration at Southend, it makes any coordination or liaison far more straightforward.

A number of services were placed in abeyance, including the Farmers Market, which it is hoped to review the decision in the next few months and see if it can be reinstated in a new and improved format.

The first few weeks have not been without controversy, not least the decision to pause funding for the Mosaic Project being undertaken by the Friends of Leigh Library Gardens.

A decision was made by the previous the Council to fund a community art project to front side of Leigh Library from $5000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money. Whilst it is a lovely idea to undertake an inclusive community art project, like the Mosaic, it must demonstrated that it meets the criterion of being inclusive.

Unfortunately, a number of serious issues were raised by members of the Community and Culture Committee that could not be answered immediately and a decision was made to pause support for the project until answers could be provided.

The site being considered is the property of Southend City Council; there were serious questions about disabled accessibility that neither Leigh Town Council nor the project coordinators could guarantee could be rectified. The project remains on hold until guarantee can be provided that the necessary works will be undertaken.

It would be a real shame for the money to be spent on the mosaic, only for it to be inaccessible to the disabled and elderly with mobility issues. The current Conservative majority believes in supporting local community groups, but in a prudent and sensible manner that sees monies being wisely spent.

During the election campaign and more recently, there has been some noise on social media that the Conservatives have been elected with the sole aim of abolishing the Town Council.

I wish to be abundantly clear that we did not stand on a manifesto to close down the organisation, but we want to make sure that it runs efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all residents within the Town Council area. We want to make sure that such services as the Leigh Community Centre go from strength to strength.

We would like to hear from residents their views on what services and activities they would like to see being provided by the Leigh Town Council, and would welcome comments and suggestions from residents. We would be interested to hear directly, or through this newspaper, any comments from those who live within the Town Council area.

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