On Saturday 31st March, Southend Labour launched its manifesto for the Southend Council elections in May. This event took place in the Jubilee Room at the Civic Centre and was attended by members and supporters, including several of the candidates as well as current councillors.
Labour will be fielding a full range of candidates on 3rd May, and the manifesto covers policies on all areas of Council responsibility, from business, the economy and employment through to care for the community, health and protecting our environment.
Veteran Labour Councillor David Norman said: “we’ve got a good manifesto, we’ve got some first class candidates, and I am convinced that we could go forward to a very resounding victory in many of the wards we are contesting. I can honestly say that I have never known the Labour Party here in Southend in better shape and in better heart than it is today.”
Ian Pope, the candidate in St Luke’s Ward said “I support everything that’s in our manifesto. I would prioritise issues like the environment, the homelessness issue, law and order. Ultimately, it is only Labour that will push forward. The Tories have failed Southend, support Labour, we will make change.”
Jennifer Beck, the Prittlewell Ward candidate voiced her concern about education: “Prittlewell is where I live, my daughter goes to St Mary’s in Prittlewell, I used to teach at Chase High. Dr Robin Bevan has put out a video with the National Education Union about the effects of the cuts to the Southend High School for Boys, and I think that’s a really good loud voice from a very senior teacher in town echoing how we all feel about those cuts and how they impact on local education.”
Laurie Burton, candidate in Blenheim Park, and a Director at Seevic College: “what we have in Southend is some schools doing really well, other schools just getting worse and worse. We should be fostering collaboration between schools and not competition. And I feel passionately about the cuts to the young person’s mental health services. Six years ago, if a student had a problem they could get it sorted, now it just doesn’t happen, and you get students with depression, anxiety, eating disorders – and the help just isn’t there.”
Margaret Borton, the candidate in Victoria Ward, talked about crime and anti-social behaviour: “our manifesto mentions warden schemes, I attended a meeting at Queensway Estate, they have wardens there, and the residents said how safer they feel. That is very positive and it does make a difference to people’s lives.”
Margaret is passionate about the problems of overcrowded housing: “there’s a lady I know, she’s got several children, and her flat is full of condensation. Whenever she’s going to get rehoused, I don’t know. We live in one of the richest countries in the world and we’ve got people living in conditions that sometimes are like a third world country.”
Martin Berry, candidate for Southchurch Ward, said that he was worried about the level of private landlord rented accommodation: “with the lack of social housing that has been built under successive Conservative administrations, the burden is now being placed almost exclusively on private landlords. Some – but by no means a majority – of those are ‘rogue’ landlords, and they’re onto a winner because they will get as much rent as they possibly can and provide as little service as they possibly can and, with many of their tenants on housing benefit, effectively the Council is subsidising the profits of those bad landlords.”
Cllr Ian Gilbert, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “you only have to look around the town to see the cost of failed Government policies: the homelessness problem is a disgrace, the poverty that you see when you visit a foodbank, the dereliction of some of the housing stock in the borough. These are all big issues which the Conservatives have proved that they actually can’t or won’t do anything about.”
Southend Labour calls on all residents to use their vote on 3rd May and to elect councillors who really care about our local community.
Details of the manifesto can be found at www.southendlabour.com/thechoice