Last week, Cllr. Allen Mayes who was elected on a Thurrock Independents ticket to represent the Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park ward defected to join the Tories. This is how we covered it: Do the honourable thing – stand down and call a by-election. Today, it’s been announced that two more councillors elected on a Thurrock Independents ticket have defected and walked across the floor to join the Tories: Two more councillors change allegiance to give Tories a majority. The councillors in question are Shane Ralph who represents Stanford East & Corringham Town and David Potter who represents Ockendon.

We’ll repeat the principle of what we said last week. Cllrs. Ralph and Potter were both elected because the voters wanted councillors who had no party political baggage and who would put the interests of the residents first. If the residents of the Stanford East & Corringham Town and the Ockendon wards wanted Tory councillors, they would have voted for them! They didn’t but are now stuck with two Tory councillors they didn’t ask for. Cllrs. Ralph and Potter should both do the honourable thing – stand down, force a by-election and ask the voters if they want them as Tory councillors. Suffice to say, we won’t be holding our breath waiting for this to happen.

These are a couple of pieces we wrote back in the early part of 2018: A few thoughts on local councillors… and: A few more thoughts on local councillors. The basic principles of what was written in these two pieces still apply. What we intend to do is update and edit these two pieces which will go into the next Heckler paper. Along with another piece on the vexed issue of unelected, unaccountable senior council officers throwing their weight about and a punchy front cover highlighting the crisis of local ‘democracy’, that’s the next paper pretty much sorted. Door to door distribution will be taking place in March prior to the local elections. So, if any ‘independent’ candidates do come knocking, hopefully the voters will get them to (metaphorically) sign in their own blood that they intend to remain as independents!

To conclude, is it any surprise that turnouts are as low as they are at local elections? When voters put their faith in a candidate standing on an independent who then defects to a political party, it’s a slap in the face for all of them. A lot of them must be asking what is the feckin’ point of voting in local elections?