Friday, 10 October 2014

Cllr Longley - are you listening?

It is generally accepted by many pundits that UKIP’s recent popularity has been built on harnessing the widespread unhappiness with Europe, Immigration and the current culture of Westminster politics. As recent local elections and Westminster by elections have demonstrated the public are only too happy to take out this displeasure on representatives of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It is a warning that politicians at all levels should be heeding but are they? In Southend concerns have recently been raised in the Echo and elsewhere about the £1.8M of Government business grants which have been distributed in the town. In defence of recent events Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council Graham Longley is quoted in the Echo as saying “I am delighted we were successful in receiving £1.8million of funding which has come to Southend rather than another area.” He also comments “The money is not from local council tax. It is not money that can be spent on council services, or other local initiatives as is being suggested.” As usual he misses the point. Nobody is criticising the Council for any input it had in obtaining this investment but what is of concern is that the Council has been involved in deciding who are the lucky recipients but have undertaken the process in what is perceived to many other local businesses as being in a clandestine manner which lacks transparency. In some cases competing businesses who are also important to the local economy will wonder why they have missed out on a cash handout. I am sure that the process has been dealt with in a completely fair and reasonable manner but it is simply not good enough for Cllr Longley to brush these concerns under the carpet. All residents are entitled to know the criteria that was applied and to ask why the potential availability of this funding was not better publicised. Finally for him to imply that it doesn’t really matter because it is not funded from local council tax is exactly the type of comment that must be music to UKIP’s ears. It is government money which has been contributed to by our taxes and as our locally elected representatives with an involvement in the distribution of the money in Southend the buck stops with Cllr Longley and his colleagues.

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