Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back!

Well it’s just over a year since my last post and I have decided to return to blogging again because there is so much going on that I think needs mentioning.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing on the town, the seafront, the pier, yet again, some highway ‘improvements’ and much else.

SOUTHEND ON SEA

There are many great reasons to come to Southend on Sea, here are just a few:-

TThe Royal Pavilionhe Longest Pleasure Pier in the world, with a train service too.

Probably one of the most iconic conference, meeting or wedding locations in the country The Royal Pavilion on Southend Pier.

The Forum on Elmer Square- Southend’s newest loTheForum by nightcation and joint library venture with accademia. Upto 200 delegates in a state of the art facility or smaller rooms available and just two minutes from the station in the heart of the town.

cliffs pavilionThe Cliffs Pavilion, our largest venue, upto 1600 delegates perched atop the cliffs with glorious estuary views and outside space to take in the sea air!

Excellent Hotels, many with estuary views and great conference, meeting and wedding facilities. why not try the Roslin Beach Hotel, The Park Inn Palace or the Westcliff for exceptional sea views and facilities. A tad further afield, all of 3 miles from the seafront, and only a 5 minute walk from the station is the Holiday Inn at Southend Airport with very interesting views and great facilities.

Southend has numerous small guest houses, nearly all have 3-4 stars and great sea views.

Southend is served by two train lines, C2C fom Fenchurch Street for 7 stations in the south and centre of the town and Gt Eastern from Liverpool Street for London Southend Airport and Southend Victoria. Trains run approx every 10 minutes peak and every 20 minutes the rest of the time- thats time two of course!

I should mention our great climate, over 7 miles of beaches, the wonderful fishing village of Leigh Old Town, the boutique and niche shopping area of Leigh on Sea, marine activities including kite surfing and many many interesting restuarants, the list just goes on….

What are you waiting for- all this and less than 1 hour from London

Details of the above locations and hotels can be found at http://www.visitsouthend.co.uk

hotels.com and tripadvisor

http://www.theforumsouthend.co.uk

It’s All In The Name

So why one has to wonder does Southend Council think ‘Cultural Centre’ is a good one?  Let’s face it how many children or teenagers or even any visitor is going to get excited about visiting a ‘cultural centre’? indeed even our die hard locals are sceptical!

Would you hold your wedding or celebrate an important birthday in a ‘cultural centre’? Well I suppose a few might but surely ‘Pier Pavilion’ is better, especially if Southend is allowed to add Royal or Jubilee to it- The Royal Pier Pavilion or The Jubilee Pier Pavilion are both a little more exciting and in no way deter from the place being used for ‘cultural’ activities and there are a number of other possibilities along this theme – Southend Royal Pier Pavilion etc. It was put up in 2012 the Jubilee year after all and since we lost out as a city could we not please have a Royal Pier to reflect the Pier’s royal heritage or even a Royal to officially open it.

There are many uses that The Pier Pavilion could be used for- cultural events certainly, but also exhibitions, parties, weddings, fund raising events, mini conferences, artists at work days, lectures, school room etc and I firmly believe that labeling it as a ‘cultural centre’ will deter more than it will attract. So come on let’s get it changed before it’s too late, let’s put some sparkle into the end of our pier after all it is supposed to be fun!

 

These are my views and are not the views of the Southend Conservative Group or Associations.

That Labour’s local manifesto is un-costed is obvious, so why don’t they just admit it.

As is the way of things Julian* has responded to my post of yesterday where I pointed out the hypocrisy in his criticising another party for failing to cost policies when at the same time Labour are parading their own entirely un-costed manifesto.

If I was wrong in the substance of my comments he could easily have silenced me – by identifying the cost of Labour’s proposals and in turn what he would cut, or how much council tax would rise. He didn’t (I suspect that should read: couldn’t) do this, and so instead chose to obfuscate. Not surprising from the party that ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to put together an alternative budget.

So what does Julian have to say, well…

Firstly he denies ever proposing to purchase properties in Victoria Avenue. Well maybe He personally didn’t say that, but the labour manifesto does commit the party to

take tough action on derelict properties, including those on Victoria Avenue which are a hazard and an eyesore”

The way that councils would be able to achieve that outcome would be to (compulsorily) buy up the properties. Of course you could try talking to landlords (done that) or alternatively giving some sort of planning permission that creates an incentive for development (eg. high rise flats). The problem is the first solution has been tried (repeatedly) and failed, while the second would bring with it plenty of objections from local residents and labour supporters.

Secondly he refers to Labour’s un-costed proposal for an additional primary school. The conservatives are already providing a new primary in Shoebury, to replace Hinguar school and create more space for pupils. We have completely costed and resourced that scheme which is already under-way. If Labour are claiming to be able to provide an additional school over and above that which the Conservatives are proposing then they need to provide the details for where it will be funded from, if they are not proposing anything beyond the Conservatives then they must make that clear in their manifesto.

Thirdly he says, in essence, that other Labour spending pledges are of very small value and therefore don’t need costing. Remember the money involved in supporting Gay pride events, alley gating and street lighting were just a couple of examples of Labour’s unfunded spending plans. Put those together with other examples and it is by no means quite the small fry Julian imagines.

Compared to the £400+ million budget the council enjoys it may not seem much, but discretionary spending is a far smaller portion of that amount. It seems awfully lazy (and maybe a bit odd?) to go around criticising others for not costing pledges and then say that their own spending plans are so marginal they don’t need to bother working out the expense.

Fourthly Julian mentions trees. Let me be clear, Southend currently plants a lot of trees. Mostly these are not that expensive, while a few are rather pricey. Planting large tree’s (irrespective of origin) is unfortunately expensive. I think the Palm tree’s have been quite a success and recall that back when we originally discussed putting in trees along the seafront people were really keen on having Palm trees. If Labour plans to plant more tree’s then I’d like to know what trees, where and at what cost.

Julian then complains about litter and fly tipping in Southend. I agree litter and fly tipping is wrong, it is a blight and that is why we have to put a stop to it. We already have a team of street inspectors and are one of the cleanest towns in the country, but of course more could be done. I was a councillor for 10 years and didn’t hear a single idea from Julian, or any Labour councillor, on additional things we should do about this. Rather than moaning why don’t they actually put forward their suggestions.

The truth is Labour’s manifesto is poorly conceived, filled with griping about issues which bear no relation to local government, demonstrates a poor understanding of how the council operates and in the rare occasions it does make tangible proposals fails to explain where the funding will come from.

- While writing this is an idea did occur to me. To kill two birds with one stone perhaps we could support a free school in purchasing a property in Victoria Avenue, improving the street and increasing the number of primary places at a stroke. This would definitely need some thought, consideration and before being proposed in a manifesto – some costings!

  • I am sorry that I spelled your name wrong and that I forgot to link to you. That wasn’t done on purpose and I will update the post to reflect that. In truth yours is perhaps one of the more reasoned opposition blogs that I read, which is why I chose to respond (Of course given some of the competition you might not feel that is too much of a compliment).

When an Idependent is not so Independent

So the ‘I’m a Conservative really’ line that Ron Woodley spins on the doorstep of Thorpe is now laid bare- he is actively supporting the LibDems and Ukip.

How can an Independent who claims to eshew all things political give his support to Cllr Longley, probably the most political Cllr on Southend and accept that a UKIP candidate if elected will be an ‘Independent’? This is nonsense and shows that the badge of Independence and the rhetoric that goes with it is nothing more than a front to denegrate conservative candidates and get themselves elected. Incidentally did not Cllr Woodley sign the nomintion papers of G Longley LibDem when he stood against James Duddridge for the Rochford and Southend East seat?  Shame on you Cllrs Woodley and Terry.

In my opinion Cllr Longley must be very nervous in Blenheim and perhaps he is right to be!

West Shoebury UKIP Leaflet

At the same time the Independents are listing the ex Conservative Cllr Aylen as one of them! Cllr Aylen was deselected by his ward as he was not up to the job, Cllr Velmurugen (Independent) was heard to say to Cllr Aylen that he would support him – astounding since Cllr Velmurugen is a practising doctor and Cllr Ayen has openly stated that he cared not if smokers died of cancer!

Southend Pier

Southend Pier is ready to be fully opened in Time for the Easter Break!
The repairs following the boat collision are now complete and the Pier will re-open

Don’t forget that shortly the new Pier Pavilion will be lifted onto the decking so now is a good time to take a stroll down the Pier (or even the train) to see where it will go.

Let’s celebrate Southend on Sea – it’s a great place to be!

There’s a lot being said about the future of high streets and even more about why they are in decline etc. However, if the customer finds the supermarket or the out of town shopping centre more to their liking they will shop there. To get them back to the high street it has to offer something better and very few do- it has to reinvent itself.

So do we need more shops? Personally I think we need more shops like we need a hole in our heads! We have plenty across the town: in the town centre, in areas like Leigh, Thorpe Bay, Westcliff and Shoebury as well as along many of our main roads like the London Road, Sutton Road and Southchurch Road and in numerous smaller parades of shops. What we need is to see some rationalisation of the retail offer and some improvements to what is left in certain areas.

To keep our retail offer vibrant, and we have been very lucky so far, I tender the following, I’ve kept it simple and so should the Council!

  • Reduce parking charges in off road car parks. Lets say £1.00 for 3 hours and more car parks to be converted to pay on foot. No loss of parking spaces either. Dedicate one car park for workers- say Seaway and on Monday to Friday offer special rate permit parking, all other users pay the standard prices.
  • Revisit the High Street, it’s about 10 years since the top end was done and there are a few areas that are showing their age-namely the square cobbled bits and the street seating. I am not suggesting an expensive make over, just replace the cobbles with paving to match the existing slabs, tidy up the broken paviours that have been filled with bitumen and over the next 3 years replace the seating.
  • Regenerate the side streets off the High Street, Clifftown and Elmer have been done, now in the same style get on with Warrior Sq Road, the stub end of York Road, Queens Road and Whitegate. Keep it simple, use the SBC palette of materials and use SBC officers to oversee this work so no need for consultants.
  • London Road / Broadway, the plans were all agreed, as soon as the Football Club S106 money becomes available this must be a priority, but not via expensive consultants and contractors, use SBC officers and simplify the design using the same palette of materials as are currently in use in the town centre.
  • Create more interesting areas in the High Street, do a simple make over of Victoria Circus, use the natural slope to create an ‘amphitheatre’ effect, plant some trees and perhaps consider an large awning in the bowl of the ‘amphitheatre’ keep it simple but effective. It can always be revisited when funds are more abundant.
  • Use lighting where ever possible to create spectacular night time effects ask for lighting as part of all planning consents.
  • Consider matching the area outside the new library ‘Elmer Square’ to Victoria Circus, simple palette, clean lines, fantastic lighting and lots of trees!
  • Accept that shopping habits are changing, allow more cafés, services etc. Allow the loss of retail in agreed sectors along the major roads, indeed actively encourage it.
  • Look at a few minor improvements in the out of town centre shopping areas- repainting, de cluttering etc.

Now for some more ambitious ideas/comments.

  • To produce a vibrant shopping area that can compete in part with Bluewater, Lakeside and now Stratford, the town needs to attract some ‘better’ shops to the Town Centre. All around the town centre are run down properties, bedsits and hostels. Single mums in bedsits, drug and alcohol addicts, the homeless and those on multiple benefits do not have cash to spend in shops, therefore, when a store looks at Southend it does not come, unless it is a pound shop or similar that is.
  • To redress the balance we need to build more dwellings that are of sufficient quality to attract those with a few bob in their pockets.
  • Completely overhaul the tower blocks in the NE quadrant of the town, use the land provided when Queensway House goes to kick start this renewal, put in a multi storey car park to release Warriors at a later date. Ensure the dwelling mix is 60% or more open market.
  • Deal with Victoria Ave, restore or rebuild, I don’t really care, but get the ground floors as active spaces and the upper floors into open market housing and/or commercial use. Landscape the entire street as a whole to allow full and easy passage around the all the buildings.
  • Purchase all the empty stores to north of Queens Road and relocate those that wish to remain in business from the south side. Demolish the then emptied sector between the WHS Bridge and Elmer Road, build new open market dwellings here.
  • Do whatever is needed to get the Prudential building back into use as commercial, dwellings and / or hotel rooms and if that means selling a few square metres of the highway to them- get on with it.
  • Stop the requirement for the provision of affordable dwellings (a misnomer if ever there was one) for development in the Town Centre that has 9 or more units, take the cash instead and buy up some of the worst properties in the surrounding streets, revamp them and hand them over to SEH or another decent social landlord.
  • Offer BHS a new site over Tylers or on Tylers if Seaway is turned into a multi storey. Demolish existing BHS, create a new open space and clad the north edge with small, very small shops. Possibly do something similar with the northern corner of Clifftown from the High Street through to the station.
  • If the Council must develop the Alexander and Clarence Street car parks and frankly I have never agreed with this idea, (why get rid of the most popular car park when replacing the spaces is nigh on impossible?) then they should put a multi storey on the Clarence site, comercial below if they wish, a large car park here will help the proposed museum too, and develop out the Alexander Street car park with smaller shops and flats, but do not do it piecemeal, deal with Market Place, use the old Cotgrove building to punch through to the High Street, deal with the old mortuary buildings, the old ABC cinema etc.

Now I hear you asking, that’s all very well but who will buy the new dwellings and where will the money come from?

Southend is a lively place to live, cheaper than London, it has award winning beaches, water sports, cinemas and theatres, sunshine, fantastic parks and sports facilities, there are 4 stations within the central area and the City of London is around an hour away or less. Council tax is low, we have national chains and in our suburbs (sorry but that word does sum up the areas) and side streets we have local shops, cafés, bars and restaurants a plenty. We have good schools, low pollution and great opportunities for entrepreneurs. What we lack is good local jobs so let’s do what Southend has done for years- attract the commuter and help rather than hinder access to the stations whether it be by bus, bike, car or even foot. Put Southend on the map for the right reasons, bring in younger people and the local jobs will follow.

Market what we offer fully, by using a bike at weekends or the trains and you don’t need the car to get from Shoebury, East Beach to Leigh. Within a few miles you are in green belt with some excellent equestrian facilities, country pubs and coastal walks, we have golf courses and now we have a working airport too!

Not many towns can offer all these on the doorstep of a world city- London

I could go on, but you get the picture. So we need all the local businesses, organisations and the local media and press on board and to go out and sell Southend, we need to stop the sniping and negativity of some habitual commentators who seem to take delight in knocking back all that is achieved or aspired to. Professionally market Southend far and wide and especially in London like it has never been done before.

More dwellings equals more council tax, more prosperity equals less dependancy. Talk to Boris, we do not want to become a dumping ground but a first choice for first time buyers and young families. The Government is offering grants- the Town Centre Partnership could apply for one. Talk to business, not just local, to get sponsorship for some of the projects- after all we have the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery so why not persuade Dubai Ports or Stobarts to sponsor a project. After all where there’s a will there’s a way!

Let’s celebrate Southend on Sea – its a great place to be!

Southend Pier reopens to the public

Southend Pier will re-open to the public tomorrow (Saturday 24th September) following the completion of essential repairs.

The Pier has been closed since  a contractor’s barge was forced under the structure in high winds and a heavy swell, damaging pilings and a stretch of walkway earlier this month.

But now the temporary repairs needed to make the iconic landmark accessible to residents and visitors have been finished a fantastic fun-packed weekend awaits.

A visit by the paddle-steamer Waverley tomorrow coincides with the start of a two-day busking festival which will see a host of local musicians performing over the weekend.

And to cap it all off the Pier has been granted the National Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme (VAQAS) Award for the second year running.

This earns it a prestigious place on the Enjoy England website as a quality attraction and allows it to display the organisation’s English rose on Pier literature.

The Pier will be open to the public from 8.15am tomorrow Saturday  and the train will be running to the Pier Head as usual.

We Must Not Lose Sight of The Jobs

Whilst exciting new destinations are announced at very reasonable prices we must not lose sight of  the reason why Southend approved the airport works- jobs, some will be airside but the majority will be in the adjoining Saxon Business Park and economic turndown or not this has to happen and it needs driving forward by Rochford and Southend Councils.

Green Flags for Southend Parks

Belfairs, Priory, Southchurch and Chalkwell Parks have all secured Green Flags for 2011/12.

external links-  Green flag Awards from Keep Britian Tidy

BBC News