Cllr Anne Jones, "What can a closed shop of Conservatives achieve?"

Labour councillors have hit out at the Conservative council administration’s ‘high street summit’, as it emerges that no opposition councillors have been invited.

The Council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for Growth, Cllr James Courtenay, announced the summit on Tuesday 18th September, to discuss the issues facing Southend’s high street. However, despite claims that “senior council officers and members” had been invited, it has emerged that no opposition councillors have been included.

Cllr Anne Jones, shadow portfolio holder for Growth, said, “It defies belief that Cllr Courtenay can believe that this closed shop is what is required to fix our high streets. I have received no invitation. Cllr Ian Gilbert, the leader of the opposition, has received no invitation. My colleague Cllr Robinson, who as chair of the Place Scrutiny Committee is leading a project on precisely this subject, has received no invitation.”

“As the people representing the high street and town centre area, Labour councillors are particularly positioned to understand the issues faced. But with no opposition councillors included in this so-called summit, I fail to see what a closed-shop of Conservative councillors and their friends and supporters can achieve.”

“I call on Cllr Courtenay to change his stance on this, and include opposition councillors so we can find an effective and consensus-based approach to addressing the problems afflicting Southend’s high streets.”

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