Saturday, February 4, 2023

Election 2011: Ward by Ward: Ockendon

IF EVER there was a key seat for the Tories to defend then it is Ockendon. For many it is the key seat in the borough.

The Tory strategy appears to be, judge us on our record over the past four years.

Incumbent councillor, Barry Johnson got into politics to serve his community, “to put something back”. After winning by 14 votes, he set about working in the community with campaigns such as the Bentons Farm in Mollands Lane.

Barry has always been at the end of the phone, ready to robustly promote the cause and defend the corner.

Barry came to the fore when he took on the finance portfolio. Some say that his work with Director of Finance Martin Hone laid the foundations for a much more financially sound Thurrock Council. We are inclined to agree with that and Labour should be wary of trying to take too much credit.

He is also part of three Tory councillors in one ward that appear to work together as a unit. Whereas in other areas, one does the donkey work and the others get off scott-free (see Homesteads, Chafford for details) the trinity of Carr, Arnold and Johnson work really well.

Barry also put a lot of work into making sure T-Fest worked and displayed a great deal of civic pride.

What may count against Barry is that he was, along with all the Tory councillors in Ockendon and Aveley, were hardly the greatest campaigners for Jackie Doyle Price in 2010. They will either need to count on campaign manager Rob Gledhill rallying some troops into Ockendon or as Barry will say, rely on his record and quietly go from door to door.

If Barry loses then it will be a shame. In many ways, in a fluffy world, it would be good to see a “Cabinet of all the talents” but we guess that the “You say outsourcing, we say privatising” puts the kybosh on that.

Barry robustly defends the outsourcing argument. Let the public decide.

The Labour candidate, Aaron Kiely has been active in student and green politics for quite some time. A likable young man, his campaigning is something of a contrast to the Conservatives. Every weekend they have had dozens of Labour activists walking the streets of Ockendon.

Aaron’s key advantage is the national scene. Regardless of the hard work councillors have done, the issues of employment, health cuts, tuition fees will rank first for people. The fear of the ‘too quick, too deep” argument regarding the coalitions economic policy may also scare. The fact is that people may translate Grays Beach Park, Thameside Theatre and the village halls as symptomatic of a national policy.

If UKIP did some work in the ward then they may make inroads but we would be surprised if we see Jill Broad in the ward. Even so, their very presence plus BNP may spell more trouble for Barry Johnson.

Prediction: Labour gain: 45 maj


Jill Broad (United Kingdom Independence Party)
Barry Johnson (Conservative)
Aaron Kiely (Labour)
Karne McGinn (British National Party)
David Shirley (Liberal Democrat)

YT caught up with councillor Johnson to reflect on the last four years and the battle ahead. We apologise for the poor sound.


  1. I think people need to remember when they vote, its not what the goverment are doing its what your ward councillor is doing for your ward. I for one am impressed by Barry Laurence commitment he gives to his residents. This man really cares about people.
    How I wish we had a councillor in our ward like Barry Johnson instead we are lumbard with three uncommited councillors who are in it for their own interest’s.
    Good luck Barry from the people of Belhus.

  2. I predict a win for Bright Eyes McGinn and if I am correct he’ll be re-named Brown Pants McGinn.

    Cannot wait to see him at the count.

  3. Nomad: People need to vote on what a councillor is doing for those in his ward………..

    Cllr Barry Johnson was instumental in the ammendments to this years budget that have seen the privatisation of Thurrocks leisure services, he has spent the last four weeks making excuses for Gary Hague and trying to say that they were not privatising the grays beach park and giving all of Thurrocks community halls over to a private landlord when in fact that is exactly what they are doing. That includes the halls in South Ockendon, volunteers gone, private company and raised rents in……

    Closing the adult education college is another one of his forced through financial savings- how many of the residents he represents will lose out because of this short sighted cut.

    If forcing through these cuts at 7pm as the meeting was due to start is a good councillor then i am missing something. These cuts were forced through with no consultation even though there was six months of meetings at which Cllr Johnson could have put forward his alternatives…. he put forward absolutly nothing. If this is committed to his residents and Thurrock residents money then i will eat my hat.

    Lastly It was under Barry Johnson as head of finance for the Thurrock Tories that they overspent by 6 million in 2009. Finances were out of control and Thurrock was heading for the recievers to take control of the council.

    A good reason to vote for Cllr Barry Johnson, i think not..

  4. Sting,
    You have repeated the first line in Nomad’s excellent post: “People need to vote on what a councillor is doing for those in his ward”. Yet you never actually seem to ever comment on the good things that these councillors have done for those in their ward. You simply seem to embark on a mass assault of generally conservative (ignoring your ‘own party’) councillors’ and in particular Councillor Johnson, listing many things YOU perceive that he has done wrong without ever putting forward credible alternatives as to what he or other councillors should have done.

    I am actually a resident within Councillor Johnson’s ward and have felt that he has not only served our ward very well but served the whole of Thurrock magnificently. You seem to ignore the good points raised in the video and article about T-fest, about helping out with traffic congestion and residents problems no matter how large or small. You have ignored these things (something that you yourself accused me of in an earlier address) and once more seem to forget that a councillor has a difficult job of representing every person in their ward whether they voted for that councillor or not.

    Moreover, I feel (as highlighted by Councillor Johnson’s own words in the video) that my local Councillor is there for the issues that need to be dealt with regardless of the party politics and this is very much something I look for in a local councillor.

    You have different views to me and I quite readily accept and welcome those different views. But what disheartens me is the increasing possibility that you were/are a councillor (maybe even be standing this year?) or at the very least someone within a position of authority and you just seem to want to trash other people without highlighting their good points or without suggesting alternatives. And I feel sorry for this and am worried that someone as closed minded as you could be in such a position. Once more you are embarking on party based mudslinging competition and it is just getting very boring.

    A good reason to listen to ‘Sting’. I think not.

  5. politicsforthepeople; My whole reason for putting a post up on this article was not to mud sling as you say but was in direct reply to the written article and post that Nomad had put up. All of my comment are fact and so i make no apology for my statement around Cllr Johnson being one of the main Tory Councillors that forced through the budget to privatise Leisure Services in Thurrock and his poor handling or Thurrock Councils budget. The audit commission are non political and they hightlighted this as a major concern. Thurrock residents have every right to know this information.

    I agree with you that people of Thurrock have different views and will vote for whatever party they choose come May 5th. You and me obviously have very different view but that is democracy.

    Had Nomad not chucked the comment on the end about the Belhus councillors i probably wouldnt not have put up a post up on this article.

  6. It seems nomad has really upset sting by the comments about the three Belhus councillors, I wonder why? What an abnoxious individual sting seems to be. Yes Id say sting was definitly Labour, I would even go on to say that it is Aaron Kieley.

  7. Sting. Do us all a favour and own up. It is only Aaron Kieley that would get so upset about the three Belhus Councillors, nobody else would or is. Nomad is right the three Belhus councillors have done little or nothing for their ward residents. Let me give you a small list of things that they have achieved in their ward, OPPS I cant think of a thing, maybe you can enlighten us all Aaron Kieley as you did with Barry Johnson it would make interesting reading. I also need to ask why are you standing for election? you have not lived or worked in thurrock for the last year, as I understand it you have been away at uni in Canterbury.

  8. Shunavan: I will say this only once more: I am not Aaron Keiley and do not even know him that well. What i do know of Aaron is he is a hard working young man who would make an excellent person to represent ALL South Ockendon residents.

    There are many that would disagree with you about the Belhus councillors in the same way that i disagree with you about Cllr Barry Johnson. That is why i will be voting red and you will be voting blue. And that is democracy.

  9. Sting, Why would it matter if Shunavan was Aaron Kiely or not it isn’t as though you have to declare it otherwise you wouldn’t be called Sting would you mr tory!

    Also this article has nothing to do with the three belus councillors does it! its to do with ockendon ward only!

    and btw im not a cllr or candidate

  10. Grays 88: You need to read the article again. Shunavan was intent on saying i was Aaron Keily and i was simply telling him for a second time time that i am not….. See above.

    And further more it was Nomad that was doing the slating of Belhus councillors, not me. My post was strictly about Barry Johnson not declaring the whole truth to his constituents.

  11. Why is it that the Candidates for the wards do not participate in Election discussions on these posts under their real names?

    You can bet your life on it that they’re all coming on here and looking at what’s being said.

    The only Candidate with any bottle to do so was the fella from Corringham who stood for the IWCA a few times.

    It’s a shame he never got elected, he deserved to, as he puts the current crop to shame.

  12. Sting I will keep this short in the hope that you may actually understand it this time. Your coment: “That is why i will be voting red and you will be voting blue”. I will certainly not be voting blue. I will be voting for the person of Cllr Johnson who I feel will represent me a lot better than someone who has not been away at university for the last 3 years and who will not attempt to win this election on national issues rather than the local knowledge. you are hung up on party political politics, which is why i shall state again that I hope you are not a local Cllr as you do not seem to understand the meaning of one.

    ‘What i know is that Cllr Johnson is a hard working man who makes an excellent person to represent ALL South Ockendon residents’

  13. Off to work now but whilst getting ready i reflected on whether i have been a bit harsh on Cllr Johnson. Any resident that stands for election does so for the same reason and Cllr Johnson did exactly that. What appears to go horribly wrong is when some of these residents get into the chamber and take on positions that give them power to make decisions with Thurrock residents finances and assets.

    In his interview he talks about the work he has done improving parking for residents and this is what he should be doing. He also talks about the meeting he attended with 300 residents at the local community hall you see him pause as he says it. Now this is where i have a problem, this same hall is now going to be run by a private organisation because of the ammendments that Cllr Johnson himself budgeted with the rest of the Tories and independents. Labour voted to protect community halls, tories voted to privatise them. Truth.

    Cllr Johnson showed in his interview a Labour party newspaper and said that we were misleading the Thurrock residents. What he did not show them was a copy of the council chamber minutes of the meeting where the ammendments were forced through. The minutes of this meeting are a public document so can be viewed on the council website or copies from council offices. His own Leader is clearly minuted as saying ‘package up leisure services to an external organisation’ in black and white the list includes GRAYS BEACH PARK. Tories voted to privatise Grays beach park – Labour voted against. Truth.

    You make no reference to the 6 million overspend that happened whilst Cllr Johnson held the finance portfolio. Had he kept a better hold on the reigns perhaps we wld not be privatising our public services in Thurrock.


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