Category Archives: news

It was really great to be able to watch the new pavilion being slowly winched up from the barge and then down on to the decking. In about 4-6 weeks it will be ready for business. The black weatherproofing will be hidden behind the softer cream of the exterior finish, the glazing will be in and it will be clear to all that  the new pavilion will be a real assest to the town. Well, to nearly all, as there are always those that object and disagree for one reason or another.

Now this brings me to the point of my post, Southend can be a great destination, it can attract jobs and tourists but it would be a great deal easier if some of the habitual objecters just stopped being so negative and gave the town, the council and those trying to get things moving a chance. How to they think it looks if someone is coming into town for a job interview to pick up the paper or to go online and read some of the truly negative and nasty comments- well not great and this impacts on not only job applicants but those wishing to open a business or invest in the town.

Whether you personally like or dislike the design of the building, the town has very firmly stated over several years and consultations that it wanted the Pier to be a maritime/cultural place not an extention of the arcades, a place for families, locals and visitors, young and old and that is what the council has set out to provide.

So let’s get behind the town, stop the negativity and at a time of deep economic crisis and strife support this initiative which will hopefully attract more visitors to town and provide residents with a good quality venue- all this will add up to a beter economic climate for Southend, more jobs and more oportunities.

The Pier Pavilion is on its way!

Tomorrow will be a landmark day for Southend. At long last the new building has been hoisted on to a barge that will slowly bring it from the docks in Tilbury where it has been assembled to the Pier. It should be lifted on the Pier some time tomorrow.

See the pictures taken by the reporter here and especially this one

 

 

A13 closed to enable major improvements

I am sure that Essex and the contractors are doing their best to get this junction open with as little disruption as possible. It’s a difficult situation (I know) so lets not all pile in with criticism but find alternative ways and allow extra time, there is never a good time to shut a major road.

THE A13 has been closed for 48 hours between Pitsea and Sadlers Farm.

The road shut at 5am this morning and will remain closed until 5am on Monday while a bridge is demolished as part of the £65million Sadlers Farm junction scheme.

Contractors are spending the weekend taking down the old Church Road Bridge, which passes over the A13 in Pitsea, linking Church Road with London Road.

Essex County Council Website for more details

Echo Article

 

Benefit fraudster receives suspended sentence

A woman from Westcliff-on-Sea is now paying the price for working while dishonestly claiming benefit.

Joanna Needs, 28, of Fairview Drive, admitted seven counts of making dishonest statements to obtain Housing and Council Tax benefit between 2008 and 2011 when she appeared before magistrates in Southend on April 18.

She was given a six-month suspended sentence, ordered to wear an electronic tag to ensure she complies with a 6pm to 6am curfew order and told to pay £100 towards prosecution costs in addition to repaying the wrongly claimed cash.

The court heard that Mrs Needs began claiming Housing and Council Tax Benefit from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in August 2008 after stating that she and her partner were not working and were in financial difficulties. During the time she was claiming for the benefits she continued to maintain that the couple’s financial situation was poor.

However, a data matching exercise later revealed that she was receiving an income from KPMG Ltd. Checks established that she had been employed by the company from 2001 to 2011 with a monthly salary paid straight into her bank account.

By failing to declare this extra income Mrs Needs received £11,786.01p of Housing Benefit and £1,345.53p of Council Tax Benefit she was not entitled to.

“If you have any suspicions over a person’s entitlement to benefit you can call the Corporate Fraud Investigation Team directly on 01702-215254 or e-mail counterfraud@southend.gov.uk.

“All information received is treated in the strictest confidence.”

It’s a Purple Flag for Southend !

Great news another flag for Southend and it’s the first purple flag in Essex. Well Done the Police and Town Centre Partnership.

Southend has a new flag to add to its impressive haul of five blue and four green ones – a PURPLE flag.

Purple Flag is a new accreditation scheme which recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night. just as Blue Flags are a guarantee of good beaches, Purple Flags act as an indicator of where to go for a good night out.

The standard is only awarded to entertainment areas which are judged to have met a strict set of criteria.

To date only 25 Purple Flags have been awarded but today (Wednesday 25th April) the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) has announced five new recipients.

They include Southend’s High Street and Sea Front, the first area in Essex to have its night-time economy recognised.

In awarding the Purple Flag the ATCM rated Southend as ‘above standard’ in two of the five judging criteria – ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘A Broad Appeal’.

Yet another Accolade for Southend

The Low Carbon Business Programme – paid for by the European Regional Development Fund and involving nine partners across Thames Gateway including Southend-on-Sea Borough Council – has been named Britain’s top New Energy Champion of the Year.

This innovative programme helps small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) reduce their carbon footprint thereby making them more competitive.

The scheme has so far assisted 92 such businesses in Southend, and given them the funds to hire a total of 60 apprentices.

This scheme is yet another example of how the Conservative led Council is using all options to improve Southend. It follows on from other EU funding grants such as the match funding for North Road Chapel renovations, the recently announced EU funding to improve local homes, the improved access to the Victorias are but a few examples.

“Once again this year no leisure centres, arts or cultural facilities have had to be closed and we are proposing to freeze Council tax, car parking costs and many other fees and charges.” Cllr Holdcroft

Southend Council has published news of the forthcoming budget.

“Even though we were required to make slightly less savings and efficiencies this year ( than last year) the decisions we had to take weren’t any easier and this budget proved an equally onerous task.
“The economic situation across Europe has worsened in the last 12 months and you only have to switch on the news or look at a paper to realise we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet.
“We didn’t get ourselves into this financial mess but we’ve got to be responsible for doing our bit to help the country get out of it.
“Luckily this authority had begun the process of identifying efficiencies well before the current financial disaster struck and we were in a more favourable position than some others.
“But with each financial year these savings become harder and harder to achieve without impacting on front line services and we’ve still got another four years of this to get through.
“Once again this year no leisure centres, arts or cultural facilities have had to be closed and we are proposing to freeze Council tax, car parking costs and many other fees and charges.
“Around a third of the savings required of us have been achieved by our officers re-negotiating contracts and other corporate work stream initiatives and they deserve a great vote of thanks.
“I truly believe that the hard work and continuing co-operation of our staff will enable the Council to carry on meeting the financial challenges it is facing.
“Despite the difficulties we are all experiencing Southend continues to be a vibrant and diverse town where major regeneration is helping improve the lives of each and every resident.” Cllr Nigel Holdcroft.

Within the Capital Budget the Conservative Administration is finding capital for the Cliff slip in the area where the proposed museum would go,

for the Pier, our world famous landmark,                                                            and for improving primary school facilities. These capital investments will deliver improved facilities and boost local economic growth.

Despite the adverse economic conditions the Council has been able to make the efficiencies demanded by Government whilst still maintaining the full range of services it currently provides.
Once again everything possible has been done to minimise the impact of the budget on front line services.

  • Nearly £4m in efficiencies have been achieved through renegotiating existing contracts, rationalising systems and localised shared delivery.
  • To ease the burden on residents the Cabinet is recommending that the Council tax for Southend, already one of the lowest in the country, should not be increased in 2012/13.

This would be achieved by accepting George Osborne’s offer of a grant to cover the shortfall incurred by freezing the tax, which currently has financial implications for future years.

  • Existing parking charges have also been frozen across the borough in a bid to assist the local economy and boost local businesses.
  • In Adult & Community Services the re-ablement programme, which reduces the dependency of social care service users on high cost care packages, has resulted in £950,000 in savings.
  • A further £500,000 in efficiencies has been realised by utilising the local PCT’s health-related social care grant for 2012/13 on key health-related adult social care functions. These include hospital social work, the Cumberlege Intermediate Care Centre and the Southend Therapy and Recovery Team.
  • In Children & Learning £250,000 savings have been realised with the winding down of the Core Unit, a supervised accommodation project for families requiring high-level support. The Council took over the cost of running the scheme, which targeted families with at-risk children made homeless due to their behaviour, after Government funding ceased. The one family currently remaining at the unit will be re-housed and continue to receive intensive support from the Family Intervention Project.
  • A further £389,000 worth of efficiencies have been realised in Children & Learning through the redesign of existing services.
  • In Enterprise, Tourism & the Environment £175,000 of savings have been found by deleting vacant posts in the Highways section and the implementation of the Common Permit Scheme.
  • A further £170,000 worth of efficiencies have been achieved through re-structuring the waste management service.
  • In Support Services £140,000 savings have been unlocked by the introduction of Internet Protocol Telephony and £135,000 through a re-structure of the Business Improvement Team.

Aside from all these individual savings the re-negotiation of existing contracts across all four Council directorates alone has realised £3.315m in savings.
But the need to make such significant savings in order to be able to present a balanced budget will inevitably lead to further job losses at the authority.
A total of 120 posts have been identified as being at risk, of which 49 are currently vacant. Employees working in the affected areas and the trade unions have been fully briefed.
The Council’s policy of keeping vacant posts open and operating a Talent Pool system has enabled it to keep the number of compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum.

Rogue Landlords Take Note!

 A private landlord has been fined for failing to repair his property and leaving his tenants to suffer damp, draughty and hazardous conditions for two years!

If we are ever to turn around our housing in the borough the council really must take action such as this each and every time it comes to light. It is also essential that when a resident moves from the private scetor into the council sector that the property from whence they came is inspected. This is because one of the main critria for getting  council property is overcrowding and poor conditions and if the council does follow up on this then the next private tenant may be in a similar position.  For more details on the case please see below-

Terry Frost, of Cotswold Road, Westcliff, had denied failing to comply with an Improvement Notice issued under the Housing Act 2004, but he was found guilty when he appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Monday 26th September. Frost was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Conservative  Councillor for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing, Lesley Salter, said:

“We have many good landlords in the borough and we are trying to encourage those who don’t presently meet the standards we require to manage their properties more effectively.

“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any landlord who shows a cavalier attitude towards their legal responsibilities.”

The court heard how Southend Council had tried repeatedly to deal with the matter informally before finally serving the Improvement Notice in December 2010. This listed a series of repairs required to bring the property up to the appropriate standard and allowed several months for the works to be completed. They included renewing defective windows, refurbishing the kitchen, improving security, work to minimise dampness and tackling a mouse infestation.

The Council was forced to prosecute after a re-inspection of the property revealed most of the repairs were still outstanding, even though the Notice period had expired. In addition to being fined Frost remains responsible for ensuring that all the works required are completed.

The Forum at Elmer Square gets the go ahead!

Southend’s Development Control Committee has today approved the plans for the development of a new building at Elmer Square subject to the Committee approving the Management Plan for the proposed public display screen before its installation. elmer Square is off elmer Approach which was remodelled last year

The new building will be called ‘The Forum’ with
construction commencing in February 2012 and hopefully the new building will be opening to the public on 30th September 2013.

The redevelopment of Elmer Square is a partnership between Southend-on-Sea
Borough Council, the University of Essex and South Essex
College of Further & Higher Education. The £26.9 million scheme will include an integrated municipal and academic Central Library and digital gallery, a modern teaching facility for South EssexCollege, and a stimulating research and learning environment for the University
of Essex.

The 9,450m2 building will include a 203 seat lecture theatre, a new café, teaching space for approximately 600 students at any one time with study space for a further 450 students and will also be the new home of the Focal Point Gallery.

The new integrated public and academic library will include a main reading area approximately 40% bigger than the existing central Library, over 100 ICT stations and over 200 other seats. The Children’s Library will be located on the ground floor providing enhanced access whilst the building will be located in a new public square.

The new building will be funded jointly by the Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College .

Essex Police Update on Riots

This email is sent on
behalf of Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson

Following on from the violent disorder seen across London and in cities across
the UK, I wanted to write to you with some reassurance on the situation in Essex. We have sought to keep our communities informed and yesterday put out a strong message to the public via our website and twitter, as well as through the media.

We have seen no violent disorder in Essex akin to what has been
happening in larger cities across the country. Where there has been minor
disorder, Essex Police has acted quickly to make arrests. On Monday following a
burglary in Buckhurst Hill, 13 men were arrested, and following minor damage to a police vehicle in Loughton, two male youths were arrested. In Harlow, four people were arrested for minor damage in the town centre.  We have seen a number of young people gathering in large groups in various places across the county, but Essex Police has taken immediate action by deploying public order officers to disperse such groups. This early intervention has meant we have not seen any large scale disorder.

Last night (Tuesday) Police officers arrested a 17-year-old man from Clacton for incitement to commit violent disorder after comments were published on facebook encouraging people to gather at a location in Essex and cause
disorder.  The man remains in police custody. We also arrested two
teenagers from Grays and South Ockendon, for
sing social networking websites for incitement to commit violent
disorder.  Essex Police is monitoring social media and will not tolerate
anyone who uses the internet or any electronic communication device to send
inaccurate and false messages intending to incite disorder, or cause alarm.

Essex Police has a robust plan in place and is utilising additional resources by calling officers and staff in to work on their rest days. We have been providing support to colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service. We currently have between 50 – 100 officers in London at any one time from within our establishment of over 3000 police officers, over 400 PCSOs and several hundred Special Constables.

Your support is important to us. When you are speaking to the public please help us by reassuring them that Neighbourhood Policing teams remain in place across Essex and Police Officers, PCSOs and Special Constables are working in communities to ensure a high visibility policing presence. Essex Police is doing all it can to ensure Essex remains a safe place to live and
work and will continue to work with partners across the criminal justice system
to ensure that any criminality is dealt with swiftly and robustly.

You can also assist the police by encouraging the public to call 999 if they witness any incidents taking place or to call our non emergency number 101 or 0300 333 4444 to pass on information or intelligence.

We are updating our website with the latest information in Essex
throughout the day and night, so this is the best place to look for updates
should the situation change. http://essex.police.uk

Thank you for your continued support and please get in touch if you have any further questions or comments.

Yours faithfully

Derek Benson

Deputy Chief Constable