Southend Council meeting descends into chaos

Political rows dominated Southend’s council chamber as elected councillors argued over who is to blame for past decisions rather than discussing crucial issues for the town.

Councillors became embroiled in arguments during a heated council meeting on Thursday night which saw them spending more than four hours discussing just eight items on a 39-item agenda.

Residents in the public gallery were left dismayed as they listened while crucial decisions fell to one side in favour of arguments over why the Conservatives made one decision and why the Labour-led administration made another.

In one exchange, councillors turned their attention to concerns raised by residents about an idea to build up to 31 homes on green space at Lundy Close, near Southend Airport.

The discussion descended into lengthy arguments about who was to blame for initially proposing housing on the site, whether numbers of houses should have been included in a report and remarks made on social media.

Councillor David Garston said during the meeting that discussion had been lowered “to the gutter” and anyone watching must be “saying how low can Southend get”.

Laura Newman, 32, who has been leading the campaign against homes on Lundy Close said after the meeting: “Lundy Close has become political football, all the insults being thrown around was just embarrassing”.

Other crucial discussions on pub licensing, landlord licensing, and motions such as opposing the closure of Campfield Road ambulance station, gender neutral language and changes to the Kursaal ward were all referred directly to future meetings after running out of time.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter