Meet Stephen Cummins

Hello, I live and work in Southend West and have done for 10 years. My daughter attended Eastwood Academy where I was a Governor. I have not been parachuted in by the central party HQ.

In my spare time, I make synthesizer music, play computer games and walk my dogs down the esplanade by Chalkwell. I work as an Information Architect for an Asset Management company in the City of London. You might also know me from my Southend Dog Friendly Beach campaign!

It may seem like we could never change from a Conservative MP, but the Tories are unrecognisable now to the party they once were. Voters now have a rare opportunity to choose a fresh start. I am honoured be standing to be your local MP in the new parliamentary constituency of Southend West & Leigh.

Stephen Cummins
Stephen Cummins - Election Address
Stephen Cummins - Election Address

Here is what I have said to the Press, about the issues affecting Southend

Lib Dems announce £10m plan to recruit new Sewage Inspectors after sewage dumped 460 times in 2023 in Southend.

New Liberal Democrat plan for “Sewage-busters” to crack down on water pollution across Southend.
New funding worth £10 million to boost the proposed new water regulator, the Clean Water Authority, to enhance environmental protection.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Southend says this “ambitious plan of oversight” would save waterways in Southend.

The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to increase the number of water inspections after sewage was dumped 460 times in 2023 in waterways in Southend.

The party has pledged £10 million per year to deliver new water quality inspectors, as part of an ambition to recruit at least one hundred new ‘sewage-busters’. The new water quality inspectors would work for the party’s new water regulator, the Clean Water Authority, giving it the capacity to deliver unannounced inspections, ensuring water firms cannot cover up pollution.
Under the party’s plans, the water regulator Ofwat would be replaced with a new Clean Water Authority which would take on relevant powers to inspect and clean up waterways in England from the Environment Agency.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Stephen Cummins said:

“It is a scandal that the Conservative party has allowed water firms to mark their own homework and waterways across Southend including our beloved estuary beaches have suffered as a result.
“A new wave of sewage busters will ensure no water company gets away with polluting our treasured rivers, lakes and coastlines. 
“Liberal Democrats will hire new sewage-busting inspectors to clamp down on sewage dumping and put a stop to this dreadful scandal.”


Stephen Cummins meets anti-sewage campaigners from 38 Degrees
Stephen Cummins meets anti-sewage campaigners from 38 Degrees

Car thieves “getting away with it” as 14,930 go unsolved in Essex since last election

Southend’s Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of letting their communities down as a new analysis of Home Office statistics reveals that 14,930 car thefts have gone unsolved in Essex since the last election. 
The data shows just 3% of car thefts in Essex resulted in a suspect being charged or summonsed. 
National figures paint a similarly bleak picture, with 76% of car thefts going unsolved since the last election. The number of unsolved car thefts has also soared in this period, with a 42% rise from 76,333 in 2020 to 108,934 last year.
Southend’s Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Party for these stark figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have decimated frontline policing. This includes their decision to take over 4,500 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for Police and Crime Commissioners to be abolished and the savings invested into frontline policing instead - a move that could generate around £170 million over the course of the next Parliament.

This will help enable a return to proper community policing - where officers are visible, trusted, and have the time to focus on preventing and solving neighbourhood crimes - so that criminals can no longer act with impunity. 

Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said:

“Criminals are getting away with almost every car theft in Southend - which is an outrageous failure from the Conservative Government.”
“These thieves have brought misery to our communities, and must be caught - but the local police are too overstretched to actually do it. By slashing community officer numbers, the Conservatives are only benefiting the criminals.”
“We need a return to proper community policing, with visible officers who are preventing and tackling crime.”

Cancer Waiting Times


Lib Dems set out legal right to timely cancer care as figures show 2,249 patients in MID AND SOUTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST waiting more than two months to start treatment 

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, as part of a plan to boost survival rates and improve treatment for those affected by the disease.

The latest NHS figures show that, in the last year, over 100,000 cancer patients in England were left waiting more than 62 days to start treatment after an urgent referral. This includes 2,249 patients in MID AND SOUTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST.

This means only 7% of patients in the area were treated within two months, below the government target of 85%.

Launching the Liberal Democrat election manifesto this week, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has set out proposals to invest an extra £8.4 billion a year in the NHS and social care.

The Liberal Democrat plan to boost cancer survival rates includes increasing the number of radiotherapy machines across the country, cutting the time for groundbreaking new medicines to reach patients, a new cancer research law, and improved support for cancer patients and their families. 

The policy builds on existing proposals from the party on health, including introducing a right to see a GP within a week and expanding NHS dentistry so people aren’t forced to pay for private dental treatment.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said:

“Everyone knows someone whose life has been turned upside down by cancer. 
“Far too many people are waiting far too long for a diagnosis, or to start treatment after being diagnosed. We must do right by them and get them the care they need when they need it.
“The Liberal Democrats would give cancer patients a new, legal right to treatment within two months of an urgent referral, to make sure they get the timely care they deserve. This forms part of our ambitious plan to end unacceptable cancer delays and boost survival rates.”

Southend’s Liberal Democrats deplore racism of local Conservative councillor and parliamentary candidate

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said: 

“I have met Bayo Alaba at the Surfers Against Sewage protest, and he is an absolute gentleman. We may come from different political parties but we stood together on the beach for the common good of our community.

“The conservatives only see cynical photo opportunities at protests like this just like Rishi Sunak’s deplorable decision to leave the commemorations of the D-Day landings early.

“The thinly-veiled racist exchange between Conservative Cllr Reece Smith and Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Gavin Haran as well as the snide comment from Conservative Cllr Daniel Nelson just shows their ignorance and contempt for real service and duty.

“The Liberal Democrats stand against racism and put our principles before party politics. Everyone deserves respect.

Southend’s Liberal Democrats back new manifesto with NHS at the heart 

The Liberal Democrats have launched their General Election manifesto and outlined a plan to save health and care services. The manifesto offers a bold and fully costed £9bn plan to tackle the health and care crisis. 

The bold plan to save the country’s health services includes:

- Giving everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if they urgently need to, with 8,000 more GPs to deliver on it.

- Guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care, ending DIY dentistry and ‘dental deserts’.

- Boost cancer survival rates and introduce a guarantee for 100% of patients to start treatment for cancer within 62 days from urgent referral.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will also include a plan to overhaul the water industry and tackle sewage pollution, a dedicated mental health professional in every primary and secondary school and a return to community policing including a new burglary response guaranteed to tackle unsolved crimes.  

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said: 

“Families and pensioners across Southend are fed up with their votes being taken for granted by Conservative MPs. With more ward closures and staff layoffs happening at Southend University Hospital now, things are just getting worse and worse.

“Every vote for a Liberal Democrat at this election is a vote to elect a strong local champion who will fight every day for our NHS and care.

“People desperately need change, from fixing our health and care services, cleaning up the estuary to returning to proper community policing the Liberal Democrats have a plan to make our community a better place. 

“The Liberal Democrats are fighting for local people and giving communities the change they want.” 

Liberal Democrats call for protected status for rivers in Southend after sewage dumped 460 times in 2023 

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new protected status for local rivers and marine protected areas, after shocking figures reveal that Essex & Suffolk Water dumped sewage 460 times in Southend in 2023.

Analysis of official data from the Environment Agency by the party shows that Essex & Suffolk Water discharged sewage in Southend’s waterways for a staggering 1,196 hours in 2023.

In an effort to tackle sewage dumping, the Liberal Democrats have announced a massive expansion of marine protected areas and a new Blue Flag status for rivers will be included in the party’s general election manifesto. The introduction of Blue Flag status would set legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping in those sites, giving special protected status for swimmers and wildlife. 

Southend’s Liberal Democrats have led the way in campaigning against sewage dumping in the area. Nationally the party recently announced plans to abolish Ofwat, introducing a new regulator with greater powers, which follows its plans for a ban on water company executive bonuses.

Stephen Cummins, Liberal Democrat candidate for Southend West and Leigh, said:

“Southend’s precious rivers and coastline have been destroyed after years of a Conservative government letting water firms get away with environmental vandalism.

“It is time we got tough on polluting and profiteering water firms, yet Conservative MPs have stood by whilst swimmers have become ill and wildlife killed by sewage discharges. 

“This scandal has to end now. The Conservative party has failed to protect swimmers and wildlife. 

“The Liberal Democrats will have the boldest manifesto on cleaning up our rivers and coastlines. Families should be free to swim safely in the knowledge that our waters are not polluted with sewage.”

Lib Dems announce plans for free school meals for 4,621 primary school children in Southend-on-Sea

- The Liberal Democrats have announced their ambition to extend free school meals to all primary school children, beginning with all children in poverty across both primary and secondary schools.
- This would mean an extra 4,621 primary school children in Southend receiving free school meals.
- The party will fund their manifesto policy by introducing a share buyback tax, inspired by a similar tax introduced by Joe Biden in the US.
- Lib Dem Spokesperson Stephen Cummins slams Conservative government for “letting children go hungry in the worst cost of living crisis in a generation”.

The Liberal Democrats have launched their ambition to extend free school meals to all primary school children, funded by a new share buyback tax. 

The government currently only provides meals for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2. In year 3 and above, the government has set stringent conditions on family income for children receiving free school meals. 
Currently in Southend, just 2,538 (22.9%) of primary school children in year 3 and above receive free school meals. In government, the Liberal Democrats would ensure 100% of primary school children receive free school meals.
The party’s plan also includes an immediate extension of free school meals to all 900,000 children living in poverty who currently miss out across both primary and secondary school. This is estimated to be 150,000 school-age children in the South East region, who would all be covered under the Liberal Democrats’ plan.

Analysis by PWC found that every £1 spent on free school meals for the poorest children generates £1.38 in health and earnings benefits, including improvements to children’s health, education and future working life opportunities. 
The new policy will make the Liberal Democrats the most ambitious party on free school meals. 
The manifesto pledge would be funded by a 4% levy on the share buybacks of FTSE 100 listed corporations, similar to the excise tax on buybacks implemented by President Biden in the US, which could raise around £1.4bn a year.
Share buybacks occur when companies use profits to inflate their own share price, a practice which critics have warned can come at the expense of productive investment in the economy.
The sectors using share buybacks the most are oil and gas giants, banks and large corporations that own a number of food and consumer goods brands. This suggests the practice is being driven by companies profiting from soaring prices during the cost of living crisis.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Southend West and Leigh, Stephen Cummins said: 

“Across Southend there are too many children expected to learn on empty stomachs with no guarantee of a hot meal when they get home. 
“Conservative MPs should hang their heads in shame at a legacy of children going hungry in the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. 
“It is time for change. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in Southend is a vote for a local champion who will fight for the wellbeing of children and their futures. 
“I am proud the Liberal Democrats have the most ambitious plan for free school meals of any party, which would save parents money and transform the future for millions of children.”

Lib Dems warn National Service plan would see cuts to vital services in Southend after scrapping of £1.3 million local fund

The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservative Party’s plans to spend £2.5 billion on National Service would lead to cuts to vital services in Southend.

The Conservatives have said their plans would be paid for by slashing funding for local areas through the Shared Prosperity Fund from 2028-29, which funds projects that boost jobs and living standards, improve public services and build pride in local communities.

This fund has provided £1,338,755 of funding for Southend from 2022 to 2025. Thirteen local projects have been funded, but details have not been published by the council yet.

The Liberal Democrats said it showed the Conservative Party had completely the wrong priorities, and called on the government to reverse their plans to slashed troop numbers by 10,000 instead.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins commented:

“The Conservative Party has already done so much damage to people’s living standards and public services in Southend with all their chaos.

“Now they want to slash funding for local services to pay for their hare-brained plans for a National Service, which are nothing but a desperate distraction from the government’s record of failure on the NHS and economy.

“If the Conservatives were serious about defending Britain’s security, they would reverse their plans to cut the Army by 10,000 troops.”

Number of starting apprenticeships in Southend has fallen by 36%

- In Southend, there were 780 fewer apprenticeship starts in 2023/23 than in 2015/16

- The number of people starting apprenticeships in Southend has fallen by 36% since 2015/16

- Southend’s Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservatives legacy of failure on apprenticeships and called for the apprenticeship levy to be scrapped

The number of people starting apprenticeships in Southend has fallen by 36% since 2015/16, House of Commons Library research analysed by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

It comes as the Conservative have announced a new policy to boost the number of apprenticeships despite a decline of 172,000 apprenticeship starts per year in England, a fall of over a third.

The Liberal Democrats committed to increase pay for apprenticeships to at least the minimum wage and for the apprenticeship levy to be scrapped. This was introduced by the Conservative government in April 2017. Under current rules, firms with an annual wage bill of above £3m must set aside 0.5% of their payroll to apprenticeships.

However, many organisations are unable to use the funds, where levy money is then reclaimed by the Treasury if remaining unused for two years. The resultant collapse in people starting apprenticeship is widening the skills shortages, and making it harder to encourage young people into the workforce.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said:

“Young people across the country are being let down by a Conservative party that has failed to give them the opportunities they deserve and give businesses the flexibility they desperately need. 

“The declining number of people starting apprenticeships in Southend shows just how badly broken this Conservative government has left our apprenticeship system.

“Urgent reform is needed. That’s why the Liberal Democrats committed to increasing the apprenticeship wage to stop treating apprentices as second class workers and to reform the apprenticeship levy to boost numbers and stop the decline we have seen under this Conservative government.”

Lib Dems announce five year plan to give patients in Southend right to see a GP within a week

- A five year plan to give patients in Southend a right to see their GP within a week or 24-hours if in urgent need will be in the Liberal Democrat General Election manifesto the party has today announced

- This March 2024, 63% appointments in Southend took longer than one week to happen, under the Liberal Democrats plans every single patient will have the right to see their GP in seven days

- Southend’s Liberal Democrats have said that this Conservative government had “abandoned local health services” and called for a “fair deal for this community’s patients”

The Liberal Democrats have today (24th May) announced that their five year plan to give patients in Southend a legal right to see a GP within a week or 24-hours if in urgent need will be in their General Election manifesto.

In March 2024 there were 527 appointments that took over one week in Southend, equating to 63% of appointments.

The Liberal Democrats have said that under their plans, patients will no longer be left waiting for an appointment and risk their conditions getting worse.

The party will deliver the plan by:

- Increasing the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 8,000, half by boosting recruitment and half from retaining more experienced GPs.

- Freeing up GPs’ time by giving more prescribing rights and public health advisory services to qualified pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics.

- Introducing a universal 24/7 GP booking system.

- Removing top-down bureaucracy to let practices hire the staff they need and invest in training.

- Southend’s Liberal Democrats said that this Conservative government had “abandoned local health services” and called for a “fair deal for this community's patients”. 

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend, Stephen Cummins said:

“This Conservative government has driven our area’s local health services into the ground. Thousands of patients in Southend are facing agonisingly long waits, often in terrible pain whilst waiting to see their GP.

“The Conservative party have proven themselves totally unfit to run our NHS. They have abandoned local health services and it is patients bearing the brunt of their neglect.

“It should not be too much to ask for patients to be able to see their GP when they need to. That is why the Liberal Democrats have committed to a fair deal for this community’s patients and legal right to see a GP within a week.”

Sewage dumping in Southend-on-Sea reaches 1,115 hours in 2023.

New figures analysing sewage dumped in Council areas have revealed that sewage was dumped into waterways in Southend-on-Sea for 1,115 hours in 2023. 

The analysis is based on official data from the Environment Agency, compiled by the House of Commons Library for the Liberal Democrats. It shows sewage was dumped into our local rivers and the Thames estuary on 445 separate occasions in 2023.

This is a shocking 175% rise in the duration of sewage spills compared to the previous year, showing how the sewage scandal has worsened under the Conservative government’s watch.

Sewage was dumped into England’s rivers over 460,000 times for a total of over 3.6 million hours in 2023.

This data comes after the Liberal Democrats local election success where the party campaigned relentlessly on sewage and the local environment. The party gained over 100 seats across England. This number includes our own Dave Poulton in Eastwood Park.

The Liberal Democrats have led the way in campaigning against sewage dumping for years. The party is calling for strict measures including replacing Ofwat with a tougher regulator, a ban on bonuses for water company bosses whose firms have dumped sewage into waterways and the declaration of a national environmental emergency.

Last year, the Liberal Democrat-run Stockport Council became the first Council in the country to launch an official sewage inquiry. The inquiry asked for evidence from the local water companies and was chaired by Liberal Democrat councillor Lisa Smart.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend-on-Sea, Stephen Cummins said:

“It is disgusting that Anglian Water pumped their filthy sewage into our waterways so many times last year.

“On doorstep after doorstep, people in Southend have told me how furious they were that filthy sewage had been pumped into their rivers and waterways - they want to send the Conservatives a message.

“The Liberal Democrats have led the way for years in campaigning for tougher action. We want to see a tougher water regulator, an end to bonuses for polluting water company bosses and stronger protections for our local environment.

“Come the General Election, Liberal Democrats will be campaigning hard against this national scandal that has been allowed to take hold while the Conservative Government has sat on its hands or looked the other way.” 

Sir James Duddridge and Anna Firth do not vote on law to criminalise water companies for sewage spills

  • Liberal Democrat amendment in Parliament would have seen water companies in court for worst sewage offences
  • Environment Agency backs calls for water company bosses to face criminal action
  • Conservative MPs vote down “justice for swimmers, wildlife and our natural environment.”

On Wednesday, Conservative MPs voted against a new law which would have seen water companies in court for sewage spills. Neither Sir James Duddridge nor Anna Firth even voted when they had this opportunity to make our voices heard.
The vote in Parliament took place on the same day a BBC report found sewage had been illegally dumped in the UNESCO protected Lake Windermere in the Lake District. 
The new law, opposed by Conservative MPs, would have created criminal offences for failing to meet pollution performance commitment levels, ensuring the polluting firms would go to court and face punishments including fines. 

The Environment Agency has previously called on water company Chief Executives and board members to face criminal charges, including court imposed fines. 

Despite cross-party support for the amendment, over 250 Conservative MPs voted against it. 

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Southend-on-Sea, Stephen Cummins said:

“It is shocking that Conservative MPs in our area have not even voted when they could have for tough action on polluting water firms. 
“This is a national scandal which has blighted our own beloved rivers and estuary. Water companies should have their day in court for environmental vandalism. 
“This law would have delivered justice for swimmers, wildlife and local rivers including the Thames. Yet Conservative MPs shamelessly opposed. Sir James Duddridge and Anna Firth don’t care enough about our environment and protecting swimmers to even vote.
“Our community needs a new MP who will actually get tough on water firms. At the next General Election, myself and James Allen pledge to stand up for our environment and vote to get a grip on polluting companies.”

These are my priorities. They are actions based on real principles, not empty promises.

Here's what I have been doing recently around Southend

Art in Leigh

Old Leigh really is the jewel in the crown of Southend West and I intend to keep it that way. We also have a wonderful array of creative artists producing sublimely beautful works inspired by our lovely Estuary.

I was there today and took some photos. Then had a well-earned beer in the Peterboat.

Stephen at an art fair in Old Leigh

Press Release: Southend West and Leigh Liberal Democrats have confirmed their MP candidate for the upcoming General Election.

Stephen Cummins is to stand as a Parliamentary Candidate.

He lives and works in Southend with his wife and dogs and has previously been a governor at Eastwood Academy Trust when his daughter attended.

He is also a magistrate (JP) in the East London Family Court. Stephen works as an Information Architect at Ninety One, an Asset Management company in the City of London.

Speaking about his appointment, Stephen said “I am honoured to be representing the Liberal Democrats in Southend West and Leigh.

“This is an exciting time in politics, with everything to play for. The Tories are unrecognisable to the party they once were. We need a more liberal and democratic representation.

“The people of Southend made their opinion of the Conservative party clear during the recent Council elections, paving the way for a new coalition of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents to run the Council for the next two years.

“The Liberal Democrats present the voters of Southend with a clear alternative to the stale and untrustworthy politics of the past.

“The Lib Dems have detailed costed plans for investment in vital services, such as the NHS, to improve areas where the Conservative Government has been failing so badly. My focus will be on Southend Hospital, keeping our environment green and caring for those who need it in our community.

“I hope that I can offer people a fresh perspective and the local representation they deserve. I look forward to meeting as many residents as possible over the coming months and helping to affect real change in Southend West and Leigh.”

The Liberal Democrats have stood firm with calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire since October 2023 to put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, with hopes to get the hostages home. 

The Liberal Democrats also want to help people with the cost of living and their energy bills by implementing a proper, one-off windfall tax on the super-profits of oil and gas producers and traders.

Cllr Paul Collins, Leader of the Southend Liberal Democrats, added:
“Stephen is a fresh, new voice for our area, with a wealth of experience as a Liberal Democrat campaigner.

“He brings with him the much-needed energy and fresh ideas that will further strengthen the re-building of our party from 2023's successes and help us march ahead of the other parties’ candidates.

“It’s time we elect someone to Westminster who is community minded and can represent everyone in the city.”

Stephen Cummins

General Election Announced

The power finally returns to the people.

The 4th of July will come fast. It is an opportunity to change from the Conservative Party in Southend West and Leigh. Maybe it seems like we’ve always had a Tory MP, even back to the Guinness-on-Sea days. Change is gonna come, and good things come to those who wait. Like a good pint of Guinness.

Vote now for things actually getting better. Our future is back in our control.

Southend Against Sewage

I was at the Surfers Against Sewage Paddle out on the 18th of May. As always, it comes down to the law versus the worst extremes of capitalism. Water and Sanitation is a human right

Read my policy on Our Water.

Grrl Power

Grrrl Zine Fair started in 2015 as a way to bring together feminist self-publishing through an event.

They create events, workshops, and zines and manage a queer and feminist zine library based in Southend at the Old Waterworks. Below is Lu Williams, the artist who makes zines and curates the library. Ably assisted by her dog, Poly.

They bring girls, women, transgender, non-binary, and gender-fluid people to the forefront, prioritizing their voices through events, commissioning new artworks, hosting zine and skill-sharing workshops, talks, and occasionally curating exhibitions.

Hand-making a paper magazine to share with like-minded creatives is more like something I did in the 1980’s so it’s good to see this grass-roots cool stuff is still happening.

Many being students I asked them would they vote Liberal Democrat? They said no, they’d rather vote for the Green Party. There’s a lesson there: the young remember and once trust is gone, it is gone forever. Maybe if we can come up with some way to undo our mistake, like debt forgiveness, increasing the threshold when it kicks in or simply paying it instead of the student is the solution.

Education is a right not a product to be sold. Parents like my wife and I have already paid for my daughter’s university education through my taxes. Not to mention other sons and daughters’ educations. That’s how it should be.

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