And they’re off…well, sort of…

Campaigning, such as it is in these weird times, is underway for the local elections which will take place on Thursday May 6th. Here are the candidate lists for Thurrock and Basildon:

Candidates declared for Thurrock local elections – 08.04.2

STATEMENT OF PERSONS NOMINATED – Basildon Borough Council

STATEMENT OF PERSONS NOMINATED – Essex County Council

Given our politics and deeply held cynicism about what local democracy can realistically achieve, we’re not great ones for voting. However, our tactical thinking does embrace the concept of by any means necessary and given the circumstances in both Thurrock and Basildon, if you think you have a suitable candidate to challenge the status quo, we would encourage you to get out and vote. There are reasons for this which we’ll deal with as follows…

Let’s start with Thurrock. Regular readers of this blog will be in no doubt that we reckon Thurrock Council couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. In particular, they’ve made a right balls up of two infrastructure projects – the A13 widening and the ‘rebuilding’ of the railway station at Stanford-le-Hope. With a strike by refuse workers, street cleaners and highway maintenance workers imminent, the council have written the manual on how to completely screw up industrial relations. Telling your frontline workers they have to take a pay cut and accept worse terms and conditions of employment while the salaries of the senior officers and the chief executive remain untouched isn’t exactly a good look is it? Then again, it’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from a council know for a unique combination of arrogance and incompetence. Whoops, almost forgot to mention the thorny issue of the extension to the civic offices in New Rod Grays – a vanity project if ever there was one!

A lot of the issues in Thurrock are caused by senior officers seemingly thinking they’re the ones running the borough, not the elected councillors. The problem is that the Tory councillors on the ruling group seem to be reluctant to hold these officers to account in any meaningful way. We can’t elect the senior officers or the chief executive but…we can elect councillors willing and able to do the job of making them truly accountable to the people of Thurrock.

Then there’s Basildon… In particular, there’s the esteemed leader of the council, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (Lab), his massive ego and the much hyped and not at all popular town centre masterplan. Callaghan represents the Pitsea North West ward on the council and…he’s up for re-election! Residents pissed off with the way the town centre masterplan has been foisted on them and also with Callaghan’s ego, have formed the Basildon Community Residents Party. Obviously, they’re challenging Callaghan – they’re also standing in six other wards. Normally, we don’t endorse any election candidate or political party. However, it really is a case of by any means necessary to change the political balance of power on the council to a) bring the town centre masterplan back for a thorough re-think that actually involves the residents and b) consign Callaghan, his ego and his mouth to the dustbin of history. So, if there is a Basildon Community Residents Party standing in your ward, give them a vote, it may well make a difference.

The turnout… Given what’s at stake in both Thurrock and Basildon and the level frustration with and anger at the respective councils from residents, it may well be a bit up on normal levels. Suffice to say, it will be interesting…

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