» essex county council ¦ What You Can Get Away With

These are the results for Colchester in the Essex County Council elections. Full results can be found on the Essex County Council website.

Abbey: Lib Dem (Margaret Fisher) 1273, UKIP 786, Labour 519, Green 467, Conservative 395. LD hold
Constable: Conservative (Anne Brown) 2075, UKIP 1471, Labour 504, Green 387, Lib Dem (Carolyn Catney) 303. Con hold.
Drury: Conservative (Sue Lissimore) 1957, Lib Dem (Nick Cope) 1127, UKIP 951, Labour 527, Green 314. Con hold.
Maypole: Labour (Dave Harris) 1665, Lib Dem (Lyn Barton) 933, UKIP 573, Conservative 475, Green 143. Labour gain from Lib Dem.
Mersea and Tiptree: Conservative (John Jowers) 1913, UKIP 1134, Labour 629, Green 216, Lib Dem (Gill Collings) 181. Con hold.
Mile End and Highwoods: Lib Dem (Anne Turrell) 1417, Conservative 888, UKIP 725, Labour 408, Green 180. Lib Dem hold.
Parsons Heath and East Gates: Lib Dem (Theresa Higgins) 1259, UKIP 809, Conservative 609, Labour 489, Green 192. Lib Dem hold.
Stanway and Pyefleet: Conservative (Kevin Bentley) 1723, UKIP 929, Lib Dem (Jessica Scott-Boutell) 829, Labour 491, Green 247. Conservative hold.
Wivenhoe St Andrew: Labour (Julie Young) 1895, UKIP 599, Conservative 562, Lib Dem (Shaun Boughton) 383, Green 248. Labour hold.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and his comments on Essex County Council’s Tories are worth noting:

Tory-controlled Essex County Council decided this week not to sue their disgraced former leader Lord Hanningfield for the £287,000 of ratepayers’ money he spent flying around the world with cronies and dining in style. This is a rash move.
In four and a half months, the council is up for re-election. I am appalled that Essex Tories have such a cavalier view of financial accountability. Anyone who votes to put them back into office next May is mad.

(Emphasis added)

I also believe that Labour voted with the Tories at last week’s Essex County Council meeting to block the Liberal Democrat motion on this.

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Still no details of the consultation, but Essex County Council have now published the papers for their next Cabinet meeting which will discuss reduced hours of opening for libraries and other cuts (pdf file) – including 21 staff – to save nearly £2m a year from the libraries budget.

A further paper indicates how many hours will be cut from each library. Of local interest:

Colchester Central Library: Currently open for 67.5 hours a week, will reduce to 59 (a reduction of 8.5)
Greenstead Library: Currently 38, reducing to 34 (reduction of 4)
Prettygate: Currently 47, reducing to 34 (reduction of 13)
Stanway: Remains at 16 hours per week
West Mersea: Remains at 23 hours per week
Wivenhoe: Remains at 19 hours per week

As far as I can see, there’s been no consultation on these reductions and the consultation that will take place will be entirely on how you want these reductions in opening hours to take place, not whether you want them to happen at all.

I’m off to find out more, but please let me know what you think about these reductions using the comments.

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I recently wrote a post based on an article on Conservative Home that appeared to have been written by Lord Hanningfield, the leader of Essex County Council. Having seen the latest in their series of articles by ‘Lord Hanningfield’, it’s clear to me that Conservative Home have clearly been taken in by a clever con, perpetrated by someone pretending to be Lord Hanningfield in order to post views that he would never have.

It’s a clever con, because the call for Councils to be able to hold local referenda so they could abide by the opinions of local people on decisions is the sort of thing you would expect a Tory Council leader to be proposing in an effort to show just how in he was with the ethos of the Progressive Old Etonians and the Bullingdon Tendency, but to put these words in the mouth of Lord Hanningfield is the work of a master satirist, an Essex-based version of the Yes Men, perhaps.

For Hanningfield is the man who so majestically dismissed the concern and obejections of thousands of people in Colchester when he wanted to close two schools. Thousands against, just over a hundred in favour with even the local Tories pushing a different scheme to Hanningfield, but those schools are still closing because his Lordship has decreed they must. So, to have him as the mouthpiece for local decision-making – and that’s not even mentioning the County’s designs on Rivenhall Airfield over local objections – is a masterpiece of satire. Well done to whoever pulled this off!

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Thanks to Chris Black for linking to me yesterday and reminding me to write about this story (also covered in the press here).

It’s stories like this that make me realise that, for all David Cameron’s cosmetic changes on the surface, the Tories haven’t changed underneath. Maybe they’re good at presenting their caring, sharing face elsewhere in the country but give them raw power like they have in Essex (where Colchester is the only Council they don’t control) and the velvet gloves are swiftly removed. When I went to a County Council meeting last year, one of the Tory Councillors declared ‘democracy in Essex belongs to the Conservatives’ which is scary either in its ignorance of the meaning of the word or its utter contempt for the process.

And that’s why I don’t expect anything different from Cameron and the rest should they get into Government. Just like Blair, it’s easy to talk about caring, sharing, consensual government when you’re in opposition, but then you win an election, find yourself in possession of something close to absolute power and why would you ever want to give any of that away?

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