Tag Archives: southend on sea

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.

H & M show confidence in Southend

Work on the new H&M Store in the old Woolworth’s building is well underway. Now lets be clear this not just a quick revamp of the TJ Hughes store, it is a major revamp. I applaud the active shop front on Alexandra Street, so much better than the awful blacked out windows of the Discount Store on Clifftown Road- Why did the Council allow this when it is against their policies of active shop fronts? The new shop front and entrance on the High Street looks contemporary and smart.

Now is the opportunity for the council to get behind the High Street and invest a little in maintainig it. It is about 10 years since the High Street was revamped and now it needs a little attention, perhaps some new seats and certainly the replacement of the cobbles. I am not talking consultants or mega bucks just the appliance of little common sense.
Many towns would be give their hind teeth for such an investment in the current economic situation and Southend has weathered the High Street decline relatively well, so let’s get behind this show of faith in Southend let’s use it to get Southend into the national press, the estates and retail trade press and to attract further investment from retailers prepared to invest in decent stores in our High Street.

 

 

 

Southend Summer- It’s a great place to be…..

So at  last the sun is out and the children have broken up. The last few days have seen thousands flocking to our beaches and seafront. The new water fountains at City Beach have been a real hit with the children. Perhaps it was our win in the Tour de France but cycling on the seafront cycle track seems very popular too, for all ages.

For those that want to get active there is the Southend Marine Activity Centre where all sorts of watersports can be experienced and there is the Essex Boot Camp which trains in both Leigh and Southend on the cliffs, evenings and weekends.

If it’s a bit of culture that you fancy then take a look at visit southend where you will find a whole list of events, many on the pier too, oveImager the summer.

 

 

 

Feeling hungry then  download a copy of Dine on Sea and choose yourself a place to eat.

The Pier Pavilion or Cultural Centre is at long last ready, so why not go down the pier and take a look and decide for self if you like it or not.

For a picnic by the sea try East Beach in Shoebury it has picnic benches and BBQ facilities ready for you to use your grills on, wide green grass expanses and no cars, so take a ball or two and have some fun by the seaside- or you could just watch the kite surfers whilst sunning yourself.Image

For something a little different why not go to Leigh, have yourself a morning coffee, browse the shops then wander down the old staircase beside the Church to Old Leigh, cross over the bridge and perhaps have a light lunch or just take the camera for some intersting shots of this working fishing port..

These are just a few of the many things on offer in Southend, so do a little digging and have a great day out in Southend, it’s a great place to be.

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.

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.”

When The Pot Calls The Kettle Black

There is an interesting post on the blog of Julian Ware-Lane, Julian’s Musings. Julian is a Labour Candidate in the upcoming elections and blogs regularly on many issues.

Today, however, he has chosen to take a pop at a Green Party Candidate for uncosted pledges.  He states-

‘Competence is critical, and unfunded promises are not a sign of competence.

To increase safe cycle paths, to want cheap and available public transport, to introduce more traffic calming, to provide low cost loans for insulation – these must all be paid for. I am afraid the Green reputation for pie-in-the-sky politics will not be dispelled by this leaflet.’

Well I suggest that you should take a look at the local  Labour manifesto with fresh eyes Julian.

Here are just few of the uncosted policies-

‘The council needs to take tough action on derelict properties, including those on Victoria Avenue which are a hazard and an eyesore. We will use powers to clean up properties left in a poor state.’

A great pledge but buying up Victoria Ave is costly and the Council already has an enviable record around smaller derelict properties

‘We have been calling for a new primary school for a number of years.’

Very expensive and what’s that that is being built in Shoebury….why, it’s a new primary school!

‘If the local gay community would like a Pride event then we will support this.’

‘We will seek to improve street lighting and support council funding for alley-gating.’

‘We also support the provision of more public toilets and benches.’

All these need money so where will it come from or will council Tax go up ?

‘We want a greener town and are committed to preserving our green spaces. We will plant more native trees and look to plant pollinator-friendly plants in the display beds and borders.’

Southend already plants many trees many of which are native, where will the money come from for more…..Council Tax increases?

‘We want Southend to have cleaner streets.’

Who doesn’t?  It’s a bit like apple pie and mother hood as is much of the rest of the manifesto, much of it uncosted and costly.

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.

Warm and Well-on-Sea

Vulnerable residents have been helped to tackle the health risks of winter, thanks to £85,000 of extra Government funding.
The Warm and Well-on-Sea project was designed to boost work already being undertaken by many voluntary groups and organisations in the borough.
These extra funds and resources helped them target their efforts as widely possible to help vulnerable people protect themselves against the dangers of cold weather.
The Department of Health grant was awarded to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, in collaboration with South Essex Primary Care Trust, Southend Association of Voluntary Services, Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP), Papworth Trust and Southend Citizens Advice Bureau.
Managed by Southend Association of Voluntary Services, the project is being directed at ways to lessen the health impacts of winter up until Saturday 31st March.
This included producing an information booklet on how vulnerable households can improve the efficiency of their properties as well as look after their health.
A group of volunteers from SAVS and Southend Youth Council have helped prepare letters and leaflets for distribution.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing, Councillor Lesley Salter said: “This funding has a huge boost to build on the very important work already being undertaken in this area. Deprived areas of Southend have significant health inequalities which we are doing our utmost to deal with.

“In addition there could be more than 5,000 households classified as being in Fuel Poverty – having to spend more than ten per cent of their income on heating.
“The exceptionally cold weather and snow earlier this month, once again highlighted the need for the most vulnerable in Southend on Sea to have access to the services already in place to assist them. We are very grateful indeed to the volunteers and to Southend Youth Council for helping with the mailing.”
The information booklet is now being sent to more than 12,000 homes, and also distributed through other avenues and agencies.
Louise McIver from SAVS said: “We are pleased to be part of this community project and be a partner in reaching these vulnerable families. We have recruited existing volunteers from community based organisations to carry out the Home Checks and these dedicated volunteers have been doing a great job. They are coping admirably with the positive response received during the early phases of the project and are well prepared for the further numbers we expect.”

Carrots not Sticks!

The new MiTo, where less is certainly more, caught my eye and it set me thinking when the Alfa Romeo magazine, full of fancy photography and cars in clever settings, landed on my doormat this week.

Whilst I have always encouraged the development of policies that promote alternative fuels and low pollution vehicles I had not realised quite how far the petrol engine had come! So a few minutes on the internet revealed that Alfa are not alone in their 67mpg low emission, clean car. Other more mainstream manufacturers are now producing similar engines for vehicles bigger than a Fiat 500!

I have never believed that people will be forced from their cars onto buses or trains or that Labour’s ridiculous parking policies would ever do more than cause problems.

Sticks are not the answer, nor is reducing parking in new developments to zero in the false belief that if you do not have an off road parking space you will not have a car, nor are punitive parking charges at stations etc. nor is the anti-car rhetoric so beloved of some.

What we should be concentrating on are the carrots- free parking in council car parks for vehicles that are both tax band A and London Congestion Charge exempt, free or reduced resident on street parking permits for these cars, more and cheaper parking at stations to encourage greater use of the train, Councils leading by example through incentives to staff who opt for high mpg and low emission vehicles, perhaps even a Government tax incentive on their purchase and I am sure there are plenty of other ideas that could be developed.

Southend is already one of the cleanest towns, let’s keep it that way, let’s actually encourage people to buy cleaner, greener cars, to use the trains, to cycle more and take the bus occasionally. That way it will also be more pleasant to walk and you never know we may all be healthier too!

The Alfa MiTo Twinair Engine has won for major awards and is available from April, I quite fancy one …….

 

“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.