Will Any Onlinefocus Readers Stand For Council Next Year?

Team Sheet

Wouldn’t it have been terrible if England had qualified for the European Championships last week but Steve McClaren had said “We don’t have enough players, so we can’t go, sorry”

We are in a similar situation here….. We got more votes in Rayleigh last May than any other party.

There are 13 seats up for election on the District Council next May (all Conservative-held) . There are 23 seats up for Rayleigh Town Council (mostly Conservative-held)

People will want to vote for us next year… But we don’t have enough candidates yet.

Last month Dee left a comment on here saying ‘..When will someone in the council start listening to what people actually want, and more importantly we need someone to stand up to the council and make them take notice!!!. …’.

We aren’t going to the council listening more if the existing councillors are elected unopposed ! If we can get more fresh people elected, we can make more of a difference, we can act more effectively, we can start to achieve more good things and stop the bad things.

If you are a reader of onlineFOCUS and like what we’re doing, please think seriously about standing.

The emotional rewards for being a councillor can be very good. You meet lots of interesting people, you have a chance to improve things for your home area and, believe it or not, elections can be almost agonisingly exciting. People are friendly even if they aren’t going to vote for you, Residents offer you cups of coffee, glasses of wine, slices of cake. You get to see lots of gardens and stroke lots of pets. You also get financially rewarded too, with about ?1000 per year for being a Town Councillor and ?4000 for being a District Councillor.

More importantly, sometimes you can make a few phone calls or a two-minute speech that makes a big difference for the lives of some of your residents. . (Though other times you will spend hours on something but not achieve what you wanted!)

Being a District Councillor requires some hours every week. But it’s quite possible to be one and work full-time as well. Being a town councillor takes less time.

If you want to stand, there’s a number of ways you can do it:

– you could be a Lib Dem candidate for the District Council in a target seat with a strong hope of winning and becoming a councillor.
– you could be a candidate in one of our less hopeful wards, you probably won’t win but at least you will give the public a democratic choice
-if you haven’t got time to be a district councillor, you could stand for the Town Council.
-if there’s a reason why you don’t want to be a Lib Dem, you could stand for the Town Council as an independent.

If we don’t manage to find more candidates, then we’ll have the same stick-in-the-mud councillors carrying on unchallenged, with less and less support from the public, and in a few years time someone will suggest we merge with Basildon….

If you’d like to have a little chat with someone about standing , please contact one of us by email.

  • Dear Chris & team,

    You have all been very active in the area and indeed have helped me on a number of occasions. ( for which I am very grateful ), indeed I think you all do a great job representing us in this area.

    However if I take an impartial look around I see a town that appears to be run very effectively, the streets are being kept clean & tidy, the High Street always looks nice and there is no silly use of taxpayers money.

    Which leaves me with a slight problem, whilst you guys are very good at highlighting potential areas of concern and helping to fight the developers etc I am not sure how you would run the town any better than it is being run now.

    This may be due to my lack of understanding or your policies are not well known, either locally or nationally.

    Maybe a clear statement of intent would help.

  • OK… here goes. First of all, at the most basic level, the council was created to be a democratic body, and citizens of the district deserve to have a choice of candidates. Also, if a sitting councillor knows that he or she will have to fight defend their seat at an election, then that person will have an incentive to work harder for their area! Even now, we’ve had one councillor in Hockley who didn’t attend any meetings of the council until she was finally disqualified after six months absence.

    The same incentives apply to political parties, the Lib Dems have raised their game in Rayleigh in the last couple of years, and the Conservatives have had to respond. For example, they finally agreed to allow the public to speak at planning meetings, they’ve had to backtrack hugely on the ‘1800 houses for Rayleigh’, they are even starting again to produce newsletters outside election time (though sometimes not with councillors addresses and phone numbers on!).

    So by just being active, I think we are encouraging the council to run things more effectively. As another small example- through Jackie’s probing last night we have now established that it may take years to get the council to clear up grafitti on play equipment, I think the council might look at that again now!

    But to get to the nub of your question, how would the District , and Rayleigh in particular , be run better if the Lib Dems were in control? That’s a difficult one to answer specifically because there’s only 5 of us at the moment; to become the largest party we are going to need at least a dozen more councillors, and I can’t say what those dozen will want to do.

    What I’d like to see in a Lib Dem administration would be:
    – a fair distribution of housing across the district, we’ve taken a big step towards that with this years campaigning

    – a more sustained effort by the council to get the medical and recreation facilities we need, with a new council sub-committee doggedly monitoring every new development in the district over the next 20 years to make sure that the infrastructure and amenities that should come with every new development do occur.

    – a more democratic council where all councillors can speak at cabinet meetings. A council where the public can get more involved (its starting to happen with area committees). We have a huge pool of talented people in our district. It’s frustrating that when I want to be in a meaningful debate, it’s more likely to on someone’s doorstep or at a meeting of a preschool than at a council meeting (except for the devcon committee!).
    – a good ‘wish list’ ready of projects that the council would like to do but can’t afford, just in case funding – from Thames Gateway, the Lottery Sport England, the EU, Whitehall etc , becomes available. It’s already happened as a one-off with the Windmill, funded by Thames Gateway, but the district has a miserable record with the lottery commission.

    There’s more to add to the list but it’s been a long week.And my colleagues have their own ideas…

  • Chris and all

    You might recruit me if you can convince me that, on our local footing, LibDems would be as committed and determined as possible to tackle sustainability of housing, transport and ecosystems as of FIRST ORDER PRIORITY in all political decisions. Without such firm and prophetic leadership, the other stuff will compound our existing errors and generate further ones.
    Let me know how radical you are minded to be!…

  • Hi Paul, First of all, looking at your own site, The Journey Home blog, I can see where you are coming from – you are very focussed on climate change.

    Secondly, the following is from myself – Ron and Jackie, and indeed other Lib Dems may see things differently.

    At the moment no, I don’t think we put sustainability of housing, transport and ecosystems as of FIRST ORDER PRIORITY in all political decisions. . Why is this? The five of us on the district council are certainly aware of these issues, but there are just five of us – its hard to come up with an oversweeping, coherent strategy when our small numbers force us to concentrate on day-to-day issues and try to cover lots of roles and duties. You could argue that we should indeed think big, and look to the future – but we cannot neglect the day-to-day issues and if we did we might end up as 5 ex-councillors.

    If we can grow as a local group – both in the number of councillors, and the behind-the-scenes people helping us and feeding us ideas and suggestions – we can develop our strategies

    If we have an underlying priority at the moment it’s been localism and democracy – delivering Foci, creating the website, keeping the public informed and involved, successfully campaigning for things like public speaking at planning meetings.

    The headline issue this year has been the ‘1800 houses for Rayleigh’ But I’m also aware of the sustainabilty issues – are any of the houses being built now suitable for a much warmer climate in 50 years time? Are we going to have enough water?

    Occasionally I get the time to ‘think big’ . Last year on another blog I wrote about the kind of speech I would like to see a national Lib Dem leader make – you can find it here.

  • I’m not at all convinced that worrying about ecosystems is a first order priority for many people – tackling
    anti-social behaviour from our local yoofs would be, I think, a much higher priority most people.

  • I shall certainly look forward to reading the write-up about the business conducted at Central Area Committee.

    I shall enjoy reading about it after the fun-and-games of today – in case you had missed it, I shall remind you that today is the Festival Day for St Nicholas. Dear old Santa is the Patron of Rawreth, and is revered by the Church for his witness in his lifelong work to alleviate poverty, suffering and other social injustice through SECRETLY GIVING GIFTS. In the recieved language of the Church, he is the Patron Saint of children, poor maidens (!) and merchant seafarers…

    We shall be holding a Patronal Festival Service in St Nicholas’ School at 2.30pm today – Year 5 & 6 students have written and will lead the worship and teaching for the whole community. All are welcome!

    …and it does also remind me to be very grateful for all you Councillors and others who work so hard behind the scenes, day in, day out…

    …oh, and a good day to be electing a new LibDem Party Leader?!?!

  • Paul,
    I think you raise very important questions about the environment. Personally I think there are few topics that come close in terms of global importance. However without the support of national initiatives local polititians can only influence outcomes of small scale changes, although I recognise that even these can make a difference.
    I do believe, however, that a commitment to sustainable solutions to the needs of our local community in terms of housing, transport, schools and infrastructure that take into account the long term impact of our actions are at the heart of Lib Dem values and this is one of the reasons I joined the party.