The Southend Conservative Group has slammed the spending of over £1.26 (£60k a year from each authority plus extras) by South Essex councils on the meetings of ASELA (Association of South Essex Local Authorities) with no answers forthcoming on how this was spent.
Cllr Tony Cox, Leader of the Conservative Group on Southend Council said,
"The contempt shown by the ASELA group and Southend Council’s Labour led administration towards the spending of taxpayers’ money was on full display at last night’s Council meeting. Every question put forward by Councillors on all sides of the Council was met with a one word answer by Cllr Ian Gilbert. 'Dunno'.
"There is no plan, there are no minutes of meetings and there is no answer to the question to how this money was spent beyond some sandwiches for the Leader of the Council. Now either these sandwiches are laced with gold or the Leader of the Council is unable to answer the question because he honestly doesn't know because such information has been kept a secret even from him. So why then did the administration decide to give further money and powers to this secretive organisation?
"ASELA seems to be more about creating jobs for the top brass in the South Essex Councils to top up pensions than it is to improve the South Essex area. We are all in favour of working with our partners in South Essex: however, ASELA seems to be all about adding more red tape and more hoops to jump through - all at the expense of the taxpayer. This administration is delusional if they genuinely think this is the best path forward to provide investment for Southend or South Essex as a whole.
"We are told this is about keeping a seat at the table in a conversation with Government, but we already have multiple seats at that table in the form of our hard working MPs who have been side-lined through this whole affair. Perhaps if this administration spent their efforts working with our MPs and less time pursuing visions of grandeur, Southend would benefit greatly."