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South Tyneside Independent Alliance – a true history

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Image and video hosting by TinyPicA guest post by Cllr. George Elsom

Cllr. Elsom was the original secretary of the independent group of councillors in South Tyneside and is their former leader, in the pre-Branley days.

Alliance History – The Truth

Please note, also cross posted in Ahmed’s Wise Words

The first two Independent councillors elected were Terry Haram (in Whiteleas) and John McCabe (Hebburn) in 2003. Terry Haram was the inspiration for all of us to try and win as Whiteleas had been a fortress for the Labour Party. Allen Branley was a Labour councillor at this time.
In 2004 T. Haram was re-elected; Allen Branley, Jane Branley, George Elsom and Tom Defty were also elected as Independents. Like Allen Branley, Tom Defty had been a Labour councillor but had been de-selected by the Labour party in favour of Linda Waggott.
It was decided to have a very loose grouping of Independents with a rotating nominal leader. As this was the second biggest opposition group an allowance was paid to the nominal leader. Everyone but the Branleys claimed the allowance to help with election expenses. It was agreed that each individual would run candidates in their own ward. (Branleys completely broke this agreement).
Philip Parkinson (Conservative) agreed to try to work with the Progressives and Independents to form a united opposition. When he decided to leave the council the Conservatives declined to attend any opposition meetings.
The Liberal Democrats never attended any meetings of the opposition grouping and never joined the Alliance. It is untrue to state that they walked away as they were never part of it.
In 2005 no new Independents were elected.
In 2006 Steve Harrison and Victor Thompson were elected and T. Defty re-elected. Jane Branley decided that there should not be a rotating leadership but one leader which is not what Terry Haram and George Elsom had agreed when the group was first set up.
A meeting was called at the West Park Hotel in Stanhope road. In attendance:
J. Branley, V. Thompson, T. Defty, S. Harrison, T. Haram and G. Elsom.
Yet again Allen Branley did not attend. There were two nominees; Jane Branley and George Elsom.
George Elsom was unanimously voted the leader. Jane Branley was offered the deputy leadership but declined and immediately stormed out of the meeting stating that she was not going to be deputy to George Elsom. George Elsom stated that he would use his leaders allowance to fund those candidates that the group and he agreed upon, and any other costs that might help the Independents on the council.
It was decided by the Progressives and the Independents to form an Alliance of Progressive and Independent Councillors. Not by the Branleys.
Accordingly there was a meeting on 15th May 2006 at which all the Progressive and Independent Councillors excepting Allen Branley (surprise, surprise!) attended.
On unanimous votes J. Capstick was elected Chairman, G. Elsom the secretary and J. Branley the election coordinator.
Allen Branley rarely attended any of the meetings of The Alliance or the meetings of the Independents. Jane Branley’s attendance was sporadic to say the least. Although she was working hard at trying to get her supporters to attend the election meetings that she ran. She did not inform the Chairman of the Alliance or the Chairman of the Independents what was happening and gave no reports on her meetings. She was forming a group within the Alliance group.

Important Date: 19th February 2007 for a budget discussion meeting and both the Branleys attended. Ten members in all were present. Allen Branley tried to present proposals but Cllrs. Capstick and Elsom had presented the budget amendments that afternoon so they could not be accepted. There had been ample opportunity for the Branleys to present these at earlier meetings but neither had deigned to attend.
After discussions it was unanimously agreed to back the amendment.
At the full council meeting neither of the Branleys turned up. So much for their solidarity if they did not get their own way.

George Elsom turned up at one of Jane Branleys meetings and tried to tell people that Alliance candidates had to be endorsed by the full group of Alliance councillors. He was howled down by Khan and Allen Branley. He left the meeting and contacted Terry Haram and said that there was no way that he was staying in a group with the Branleys. They clearly had their own agenda.
Allen Branley later contacted T. Defty, S. Harrison and T. Haram and invited them to a meeting where it was discussed that Jane Branley should be the leader.
T. Haram declined to attend the meeting.
In April 2007 G. Elsom informed the Branleys, at a meeting, that he could no longer work with them and would no longer be in the Alliance. It had come to his attention that the Branleys were also asking someone to run against him in the May 2007 election.
He confirmed that Terry Haram and he were leaving the Branleys grouping in an email to the Branleys on 11th May 2007 but that they would both oppose Labour when they disagreed with their policies.

In May 2007 George Waddle was elected and joined Branley. They ran a candidate against Councillor Billy Troupe, Liberal Democrat, in Biddick Hall and split the vote thus Labour got in. The candidate was Stephen Patterson.

In May 2008 J. Branley and Khan tried to get Robin Coombes to stand against Terry Haram in Whiteleas. After talking to Terry he withdrew. They also put up Laura Khan against Joe Abbot, the Liberal Democrat in Hebburn.

The Progressives left the Branleys and were later followed by Tom Defty and then Steve Harrison.
They are now fielding candidates against the Progressives and Steve Harrison.

The Alliance is now a party with a protocol (set of party rules) and their sole purpose is to destroy all the opposition to Labour and by doing so they hope to be the only opposition in South Tyneside. Thus either Jane Branley or Khan might become the leader of the council.

This is a truer history than the one put forward by Jane Branley.

Thanks George, this is a far more comprehensive and revealing account of how the Alliance began it’s work than it portrays on it’s own website No Chance of Change, and because of the Marxist/Leninist tactics adopted by this renegade group of hard left councillors, those decent respectable opposition members within the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall have found themselves spending inordinate amounts of time defending themselves from personal attacks and abuse instead of concentrating on countering Labour’s policies (not personalities) in South Tyneside.

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Written by curly

April 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

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