The highest stakes with our money!

SKIPP press release (15-01-18)

Has Southend Council got a gambling addiction? After years of gambling with millions of tax payers money on the proposed seafront museum, they are staying in for yet another hand with a high stakes bet of £1.3 million on new architects for the proposed carbuncle; which has no backers from wherever they have looked for them. Now this! £750,000 for the Queensway proposal where again there is no assurance that any more money will be forthcoming from whatever sources. Trouble is they are gambling with OUR money.

And who wants to get rid of the Porters Grange roundabout anyway? Tony Cox says he has listened to complaints about it but these involve the underpass and the lack of safe pedestrian crossing. No one wants another fouled up junction like Victoria Gateway!

Well maybe John Lamb and the council do. It has also been noted that traffic to the east will no longer be going through Queensway putting unacceptable and unnecessary pressure on Priory Crescent. Is this another attempt to dual Priory Crescent? This was and always will be a rejected idea of astronomical cost because another railway bridge would be compulsory. If Victoria Gateway worked properly these foolish ideas would not arise.

From Saxon King In Priory Park


Newham council we are watching you

Our friends from Focus E15 getting 2018 off to a flying start by challenging Newham Council on their turf over their appalling record on housing and social cleansing from the borough… Looking forward to getting out on the streets with Focus E15 during 2018:)

Focus E15 Campaign

Focus E15 campaigners started the new year as we mean to go on, as thorns in the side of Newham Labour Council. This is because Newham council continue to prevaricate about dangerous cladding, keeps hundreds of homes empty on the Carpenters Estate and continues to move people out of the borough and out of London, with no regard for the health and well being of adults or children.

On Thursday 11 January, Mayoral Proceedings were held at East Ham Town Hall. Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, due to contest his seat in May this year, opened by saying what a fair place Newham borough is, giving an example that all children, rich and poor, receive free school meals. He didn’t mention that 1 in 25 people in Newham are classified as homeless and many poor, vulnerable and immigrant families are being sent out of Newham and out of London for housing – which is not fair…

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Mergers and cuts…

This is from the Save Southend NHS Facebook page –


Plans are being considered to merge Southend, Basildon and Brookfield Hospitals in a bid to save money. SEE ARTICLE BELOW!

Huge implications for Southend and the staff at all three Trusts. Could this lead to the downgrade of our A&E that we all fought so hard to stop last year? The merger will make it far easier to reduce services available at each individual site and centralise care – further away from resident’s homes. This is another blow to the populations of Mid and South Essex and especially Southend on sea locality who are set to lose the greatest amount of acute hospital services under the STP. Staff will be shunted all over to accommodate the restructure of acute services at different sites – many experienced staff will leave, paving the way to recruit less qualified, less experienced cheaper alternatives and the patients will have no choice where they are seen due to the removal of some key specialities from each site ( mainly Southend) and the merger will open opportunity for more commercial private investors to be involved in NHS service provision.

Now more than ever the people of #Essex need to wake up and realise that our local hospital in under severe and imminent thread and you need to make your collective voices heard! #SaveSouthendNHS

EXCLUSIVE : Senior leaders of three trusts to recommend merger

By James Illman (Health Service Journal) 9th January 2018

· Chief and senior team of three Essex trusts to recommend full merger to boards on Wednesday

· Merged trust would be one of biggest providers in the NHS

· Trusts previously said they had “no intention” to merge and campaigners will oppose move

The joint chief executive and senior team of three Essex acute trusts will recommend controversial plans to merge next year to create one of the largest trusts in the NHS, HSJ can reveal.

Leaders from Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Southend University Hospital FT and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust will discuss the move at their joint leadership team meeting tomorrow.

Clare Panniker: ‘The recommended option is for our trusts to work towards becoming a single organisation’

The trusts have been developing a “group model” to run their hospitals under one leadership team with a “flexible workforce” since 2016.

However, the original group model agreement said there was no intention to merge the trusts – and the change will face fierce hostility from local campaigners, clinicians and politicians if it gets the green light.

A merged entity would have combined revenue of £945m making it the eleventh biggest NHS provider, based on last year’s turnover figures.

Clare Panniker, who is chief executive of all three trusts in an unprecedented arrangement, is leading the proposals.

A paper for the board meeting, written by other senior executives on the joint leadership team, said: “Our aspiration would be for a new organisation to come into being by April 2019.”

The recommendation follows an “appraisal exercise” in December by KPMG. “The preferred outcome of the options appraisal scoring exercise was for a proposed three way merger,” the report said.

Lobby group Save Southend NHS, which is supported by several local senior clinicians who have spoken to HSJ, said it was “very much opposed to the merger [because it] would inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of services available locally to patients; plus the potential implications for staff contracts, conditions and pay are huge too”.

Save Southend NHS secretary Mike Fieldhouse said: “We want to see a fully operational general hospital kept at each site and not one hospital with three sites. If a merger happens we have no doubt that individual specialist services will be concentrated on one site, meaning patients will have to travel much further for treatment.

“In all likelihood, [NHS leaders] would create an A&E ‘super centre’ at Basildon and downgrade Southend and Broomfield to walk-in centres – exactly what we and the vast majority of local residents have been fighting so hard to resist.”

Ms Panniker said in a statement to HSJ: “A number of options on the way we work together in the longer term have been tested in a rigorous appraisal process carried out by members of the three boards, individual site leadership teams [and] governors/patient council representatives.

“The recommended option is to work as one organisation and for our trusts to work towards becoming a single organisation on 1 April 2019.

“If the boards of each trust approve the recommended option, the next step will be to produce a strategic business case to set out what needs to be done to seek the formal approval of our regulators, our councils of governors, and presents the opportunity to engage more widely with our stakeholders and local community.”

The news comes with the trusts consulting until March on a major acute reconfiguration. The plans have been significantly watered down since they were first discussed in 2016, following patient and clinician opposition.

The East of England Clinical Senate’s review, published in February 2017, warned the plans attemptedto try to retain virtually all the current services on all three acute sites.

The senate said the plans would not deliver long term sustainability and advocated a “bolder” approach, which could involve one of the three emergency departments being upgraded and one downgraded to a minor injuries unit.

Vulnerable to disruption…

We’ve written a few pieces about the situation at the Amazon distribution facility at Tilbury where atrocious working conditions were exposed by an undercover reporter from the Mirror back in the autumn. Here they are:
Are Amazon digging a hole for themselves at Tilbury?
Amazon workers are fighting back
Dark, Satanic warehouses…

The southern part of Essex is a major logistics hub with facilities clustered around West Thurrock, Tilbury, London Gateway and along the northern fringes of Basildon by the A127. Although we’ve focused on Amazon so far, it has to be acknowledged that there are worse employers in the region. Bearing all of this in mind, it was with great interest that we read this piece from The Conversation: Modern capitalism has opened a major new front for strike action – logistics

At the moment, given the weakness of the mainstream union movement, the immediate prospect of disruptive strike action in the logistics sector is not likely. As we’ve written before, employers in the logistics industry have relied on the fact that there are always people desperate enough for a job to replace those who quit because they won’t put up with the conditions or are sacked because they can’t keep up with the relentless pressure.

As the piece from The Conversation points out, many of these logistics facilities are seeing concentrations of large numbers of workers. Concentrations that business leaders have sought to avoid because of the risks of disruption by militant unions. It would seem that in the current climate, major employers in logistics and distribution are taking a punt on the workers in these places not being unionised and therefore not in a position to put on the pressure in a bid to improve pay and conditions. The fact that many of these workers are agency workers employed on precarious short term or zero hours contracts also provides a disincentive against any militant action.

However, with the expose about working conditions at Amazon’s Tilbury facility towards the end of last year, the truth about working conditions can no longer be swept under the carpet by employers. A few more exposes about working conditions and the tide could start to turn. The pages of this blog are always open to any workers who want to anonymously report on the shite treatment they’re getting.

While the mainstream unions may, for whatever reason, be reluctant to force confrontations with employers and agencies in the logistics and distribution sector, the smaller, nimbler so called ‘fringe’ unions are waiting in the wings: Unions take note…this is how you take action! There is only so much people are willing to take before something snaps and they realise they have no option but to take on those who are ruthlessly exploiting them. There’s everything to play for…

Another quango making decisions about our lives

Yet another quango has come into existence to make decisions about economic and housing growth along the Thames estuary: Thames Estuary Growth set to be discussed by Thurrock Council Don’t be taken in by the headline – sure, Thurrock Council will be discussing the priorities of the Thames Estuary 2010 Growth Commission but any conclusions they come to will be advisory at the best.

This appears to be a re-heated version of the Thames Gateway initiative which was being discussed ten or more years ago. The Thames Gateway initiative made a token nod to public consultation but most of the decisions were made behind closed doors before it disappeared into the ether. We strongly suspect that it will be the same with the Thames Estuary 2010 Growth Commission – a token nod to asking us plebs what we think with the big decisions being made well away from any scrutiny or public accountability.

The ‘consultations’ about the Lower Thames Crossing have been a joke in that all we’ve been asked to comment upon are variants of the proposal – there is no possibility that the need for the crossing will ever be allowed to be questioned and challenged. Whatever the Thames Estuary 2010 Growth Commission lay out in front of us mere mortals will most likely be a series of proposals with slight variations between them which we’ll be asked to comment upon.

Look at where we are now with the only employment growth coming from massive distribution facilities such as Amazon at Tilbury with shite employment practices, ever increasing traffic and pollution levels, housing being stuffed into every available corner with the infrastructure needed to support it lagging way behind… If people had been asked if this was what they wanted for the future development of the region, the answer most likely would have been a resounding no!

We suspect that what we will be getting is more new roads carving up what little green space is left, more housing to absorb the overflow from London as the project of social cleansing from the capital intensifies and more precarious ’employment opportunities’ in logistics and distribution that operate 24/7. In other words, we get what suits big business rather than a more sustainable and liveable future that most people in the region, if they had the chance to really think things through, would much prefer.

Yet again, we have a planning initiative where major developments that suit the interests of big business are imposed upon a population that has no say in the matter whatsoever. Seriously, what else can we expect from a political and economic system in thrall to the doctrine of neo-liberalism? We’re not going to get bottom up participation in shaping planning decisions for the benefit of the people who live here until there’s a serious challenge to a political and economic system that regards us plebs as little more than interchangeable and ultimately, disposable work units.

Southend Hospital – FRONT LINE UPDATE

This is from the Save Southend NHS Facebook page:

Our local #NHS staff have provided another confidential update from the front line and we thank them for speaking out in order to help us fight for our local communities.

“Yesterday there were only a handful of discharges from the hospital – needless to say there was no respite from ambulances arriving. During a recent shift (I won’t say which as it narrows the options of who was on duty if days and times are given), every cubicle in the main department had a patient in it awaiting an inpatient bed for either the medical or surgical teams and ambulances were lining up 10 deep. We were treating some patients in the minors cubicles that should have been in the main area of the department and one or two of those arguably should have been in Resus. Nurses are frequently not getting breaks, cutting them short or staying beyond their finish time in a desperate attempt to keep on-top of the workload. We had paramedics looking after patients in the Paediatric ED overnight, just so they were not all in a cold corridor and patients were waiting too long for basic investigations because there simply was no physical room in which to do them, that didn’t already have someone else just as sick or even sicker in it already”.

We have no words. Our campaign would love to say these kind of shifts are one-offs but they are becoming a regular occurrence thanks to the appalling lack of investment in the NHS and social care as a whole. Despite these appalling front line reports, the Mid and South Essex STP are set to slash a further £30 million annually from Southend’s budget.

Our hospital ( and all of the hospitals within the STP footprint) require investment to EXPAND instead of carving them up and transporting Southend’s most sick and acutely unwell and vulnerable patients out to Basildon and Broomfield using a ‘transport service’ that the STP have not even detailed how they will recruit into, fund vehicles or supply the appropriately trained Drs, nurses and support staff plus equipment to manage critically ill patients en route to elsewhere.

There are already pathways in place and operational for certain types of acute trauma emergencies to transfer out but they want to implement more and more – many of which are dangerous and not in the best interests of patient care in our opinion.

Their ill conceived and mostly premature plans have to be stopped.

We do not currently have the community health and social care systems in place to prevent such high A&E attendances and hospital admission rates, nor the social care bed space or staffing capacity to facilitate early discharge once patients are medically fit… and by that, we don’t want your CareRooms AirBnB schemes either.

Until the STP provides black and white evidence of primary care investment capital and concrete plans where they will magic practitioners from, bearing in mind the massive GP, student nurse, paramedic and allied health professional crisis – then we will fight the proposed changes to acute hospital services unless the ‘on the floor’ clinicians and leads deem them safe and beneficial to patient outcomes.


– We demand a properly funded, properly staffed, public NHS service.
– We want our busy general hospital expanded – not downgraded.
– We don’t want private bed allocation in our NHS hospitals.
– We don’t want to be cared for by staff who are running themselves into the ground and faced with their own health suffering in order to provide a basic level of care. This has to stop.

#SaveOurNHS #SaveSouthend #NoSTP


It’s rail fare increase day: Rail fare increase: Are Thurrock commuters being “priced out of getting to work?” It’s the first day back at work for a fair number of people after the festive break and they’re being greeted by the biggest rail fare increase in five years…

One of the big drivers of the population increase across the south of Essex is people being priced out of London because they can’t afford to rent or buy a home. So they have to pile onto an already overstretched rail network to commute to their jobs in the capital. Whatever they may have saved in housing costs by moving out of London is steadily being eroded away by above inflation increases in rail fares. Bear in mind that this is happening at a time when pay levels for an increasing number of people are stagnating or declining. Disposable income to spend on the things that make life worth living is disappearing as more money has to go towards paying for the essentials in life.

This is down to a myopic ‘user must pay’ mindset that both the Tories and their Labour predecessors have adopted as they seek to reduce the taxpayer subsidy to the rail network year after year. Those of us who don’t drive pay for the road network through our taxes because it’s considered to be a vital part of the infrastructure. Rail is also a vital part of the infrastructure yet somehow, a different set of rules seems to apply in that the user is expected to bear an increasing burden of the cost of rail travel and the investment in upgrading and expanding the network.

It’s all very well for motorists who’ve never set foot on a train in their lives to moan about their taxes paying to subsidise rail users. Somehow we suspect that if just for one day, every rail user who had access to a car decided to travel to and from work by road for just one day, the resulting gridlock would make the motorists reconsider their views on rail users and the subsidy they get! If there’s a desire to reduce traffic congestion and levels of air pollution by encouraging more people to switch to public transport, where’s the logic in penalising them with massive above inflation fare increases?

The ‘user must pay’ mindset is a reflection of how neo-liberal values have permeated society as the idea of collective responsibility for each other is relentlessly attacked and is replaced by a ‘me first and ***k everyone else’ attitude. Public transport is an integral part of the infrastructure of a civilised society and should be regarded as an asset to be held in common for the benefit of everyone. That is only going to come about once we start to challenge and push back the dog eat dog mentality that’s a feature of an increasingly atomised, individualised and dysfunctional society…