I live in Westcliff with my wife and our two children – a six year old daughter who attends St. Mary’s C of E Primary School, Prittlewell, and a one year old son. I currently work part-time for a publishing company and part-time for a charity, providing counselling to survivors of childhood sexual abuse and rape.
I have now lived in Southend for 10 years and think it is a wonderful town having been met by welcoming and friendly people from the moment we moved here and along with its unique attractions including the Thames waterfront and beaches, theaters, diverse shopping and community events to name but a few, it is a town where I feel very settled and at home. There is however work to be done in making this town even better.
You don’t have to look far to see the problems we have with homelessness, lack of housing and the poor quality of some housing. We have just had the fantastic news that 18 new council houses are to built in Southend – the first large-scale council development for decades. Many more of these are needed following the massive depletion of local authority housing through the Tory’s Right to Buy scheme. We need more, affordable, good quality housing so that young people do not have to spend their 20’s and 30’s living with parents or that lower income families are forced to put up with poor quality rented accommodation.
I believe more help needs to be given to the homeless population of Southend too, many of whom of whom have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own and need our compassion and understanding and not the knee-jerk NIMBY-ism so often heard in relation to their plight. I have voluntarily worked many night shifts for the Night Shelter project set up jointly between HARP and seven local churches that has provided accommodation for up to 24 rough sleepers and homeless people every night of the week during the cold weather period between November and March for the past 4 years.
I believe we also have a moral responsibility to extend the arm of friendship to our fellow humans in times of need and play our part in giving as much help as is possible to refugees fleeing for their lives from war zones and oppressive dictatorships in their time of greatest need.
SAFEGUARDING LOCAL SERVICES
I commend the achievements of the current Labour councillors in assuring the future of our local libraries in being professionally staffed, saving Priory Care Home and defending services against Tory austerity cuts wherever possible. I believe we should be actively striving to maintain and improve our children’s education both academically and socially.
I stand fully behind the local Labour Party’s policies regarding crime and anti-social behaviour, the regeneration of Southend and developing it as a greener, cleaner town. I also believe it is important not to neglect the smaller, local issues, that affect particular wards such as cleanliness and safety on our streets and making this wonderful town a more pleasant environment to live in.