Dear Leigh Resident,
I am writing to introduce myself as the leader of our newly founded Southend Confelicity Party and your Leigh candidate for the forthcoming local elections in 2023.
For as long as I can remember people have been unhappy with politicians and politics in general, and I feel the same.
How many conversations do we have we each other about our dissatisfaction with what is going on, but after venting we ultimately know there is nothing that can be done about it?
We vote in hope or to stop the party/person we dislike from getting in. Alternatively, we do not vote at all.
In Southend, 70% did not vote in the last local elections - it is barely a democracy. Yet, parties and politicians are technically voted in and they proclaim they have a mandate to enact their manifesto.
Aside from the ardent few who thoroughly read every line of every manifesto, most people do not really know what they are voting for. This is not meant to be patronising, this is because of the general apathy of the public caused by the feeling that no matter what we do nothing is going to change.
When I voted in the past, the strength of feeling towards whom I was voting for was fairly weak. I did not feel much passion, just a sense that I should vote because I want to exercise my democratic right and my perception of that party being more in line with my values than the other party. This is despite any of the parties truly representing what I would have liked.
Introducing Southend Confelicity
Today, the Confelicity Party have put together a constitution and manifesto that I know I truly connect with! As one of the founding members, I had the advantage of creating something that at least one voter would be pleased with!
And that connection is because it is geared all about Southend – the city that we live and work in.
We use these facilities. We know what we have got. We know what we could do with. We know what we must have.
Who is going to represent Southend better than by people that are actually affected by the decisions that we take?
This is not to say that just because we are from Southend that we would automatically be the best leaders. However, it is certainly more likely than the national parties, represented locally, because they have to accommodate their national party agendas, dogmas and bureaucracy.
I believe that most of our councillors care about Southend, but the reality is they have very little power when the national parties dictate what they are going to do.
With Confelicity, all members have equal say in what goes into the manifesto and with our ‘Undivided Democracy’ voting system, all policies need to be unanimously agreed.
Many would argue this is impossible, however, we have managed to agree on a substantial number of policies that we think can help Southend return to better days (www.confelicityparty.com/manifesto).
For policies we cannot agree on, members are free to respectfully voice their opinions and vote as they see fit.
Membership is free, the only caveat is that as a member you are somebody that values honesty, integrity, compassion and ambition for Southend (www.confelicityparty.com/membership).
This is a most unique opportunity for us locals to genuinely make a difference.
Issues in Southend
Whilst we know that many issues are beyond our control, instead of just saying there is nothing that can be done as it is a national issue, we will not be giving up so easily.
One of our longer-term aims is to gain more powers for Southend to address the major issues we face, such as:
· Southend Hospital being regularly overrun
· GPs impossible to get hold of
· Schools teaching 30-plus children in a classroom
· Lack of ‘bobbies on the beat’ policing where residents know who they are by name
· The slow death of Southend High Street
· Legally permitted sewage in our seas
· Lack of quality career opportunities and seeds of industry
· Building on greenbelt land
· Lack of affordable housing
We will not be able to change all of this overnight, but we have the ambition to do so over time.
There are also several city-wide decisions that are becoming somewhat embarrassing: the £575m Queensway development, which has struggled to find a financially stable developer; the now £70m Seaway development that after 10 years has not seen a brick laid (and the council want to earmark £10m reserve money to support the developer); the Marine Plaza on the seafront, again, no progress; the Kursaal which is derelict and starting to become dilapidated; the end of Southend Pier with little to do; and the Southend United development, which has struggled to move forward.
What would we do? Start again.
These developments are going wrong because they are built on unstable foundations.
The sooner they stop, the sooner new partners can be found who actually have the right credentials to carry forward what they say they are going to do. Either that or do nothing.
Let’s face it, did anyone ask for any of this? Most of us just want to wake up in the morning, put bread on the table and enjoy our lives.
The best thing for councils to do is to leave people alone and intervene only if people fall on hard times.
They should be a supporter and facilitator to people, not play around with various pet schemes on taxpayer’s expense.
Incidentally, we believe that people should be as ambitious as they like but pay their fair share. We would then endeavour to spend that fair share without waste, incompetence, corruption, and politically motivated self-indulgence. And with complete openness and transparency, making it easy for people to find the information as to where their money has gone!
Leigh happens to be the leading light of Southend and there is much that the rest of the city can learn from. It has everything going for it, from Old Leigh and Leigh Broadway to the beautiful location itself.
I have walked the Leigh pavement over the course of the year, meeting residents and finding out the main issues.
Aside from the issues already mentioned, it tends to be things such as pavements, dog fouling, potholes, parking, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing that has been having a negative effect on people’s lives. Very concerning is the threat to small businesses due to increasing costs, which if not addressed, could lead to a similar path as Southend High Street.
In all these areas I would look to engage with you to ensure we make the right choices together in a determined effort to find resolutions for our community.
I have lived and worked in Southend all my life and know our city very well.
I have spent the last 27 years of my career learning business from the ground-up, as a member of the Board of Directors of Adventure Island, Sealife Adventure, Radio Essex, and various restaurants across the city, I have been able to develop a wide range of business knowledge and experience that I am eager to bring onto the Council (www.confelicityparty.com/jamesmillerleighconfelicity).
It may be that I find nothing can be done and that Southend simply needs to understand and accept our lot. However, I doubt this to be true and look forward to discovering what really can be done with some fresh eyes, a bit of elbow grease, and a 'can do' attitude.
May I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I sincerely hope you can put your faith in me as your Council representative for Leigh.
Confelicity Party Leader