Tag Archives: Southend Pier

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.

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.

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

 

 

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.

“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.

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.

Should Southend Pier be free to Residents?

I doubt there are many Councillors or residents that would not aspire to this but sometimes one just has to be realistic! The Pier, because of where it is out in the Estuary, its age and listed status and what it is built of, costs a great deal in its day to day management and maintenance and already loses a great deal of money in getting it up to a suitable standard for its continued operational existence.

 Following the fire the insurance monies were for restoration of damage not for improvement which is why Southend Council has put a steady stream of capital each year into the Pier to get it into a state where it will be less expensive, hopefully, day to day, and able to support increased activity, building and use. But since Southend is not blessed with unlimited funding it has had to be done little by little, now it is virtually all in place and the planning application for the new Pier Pavilion should be going in soon. Don’t forget that Southend wanted a Pier that was cultural, based on maritime ideas and had something for everyone.

 The relatively easy answer would have been to allow it to become a giant amusement arcade and park but that was not what Southend said it wanted. Also no Developer wanted to pick up the maintenance costs of the Pier from the Council, so they would get the profit from any investment, not the Council, but the Council would be expected to pay for the maintenance costs; not a good business case for the Council or the tax payer! However, there will always be the day to day running costs, the trains require drivers and regular maintenance, cleaning and general maintenance is needed and due to the location of the Pier officers need to be on hand when the public are about etc. All this costs money and that money currently comes from the Council tax and ticket monies, if the ticket money income goes down the take from the Council tax needs to go up or something somewhere else needs to be reduced or cut. That said a free Pier for the residents is an attractive idea. Firstly of course the Council would need to know how many residents currently pay to go on the Pier versus non residents over the season so as to be able to budget for any changes and secondly there would need to be some sort of check to ensure only residents not visitors benefitted. This would quite likely result in the need for at least one extra staff member. Decisions would have to be taken around the equity of this happening with the resultant increase in council tax across the town affecting all, many of whom have no wish to go down the pier and what about resident’s children, nieces and nephews how would this all be catered for? Currently there is not a great deal at the end of the Pier, though it is still a great place to visit for many reasons.

 Once the Pier Pavilion is up and running, there should be even more of an attraction for a visit and maybe a halfway house of a free weekend or two would be a suitable compromise during which time the Council could showcase the new attractions to the public thus encouraging return visits

Prada on Sea

Has a certain ring to it! More importantly the SKIPP use of this phrase emphasises how little they understand of aspirations. Southend gets circa 6m day visitors a year that puts us into the higher league tables, but others that attract high numbers actually get more back per visitor than Southend. Brighton and Bournemouth for example achieve a far far higher spend per visitor than Southend. So I ask- is there anything wrong in Southend aspiring to get a bit closer to their income from tourists? Is there anything wrong inSouthend Residents  aspiring to wear a Prada dress?

Surely in a town with over 7 miles of beaches we can afford to have some variation of style- something for everyone, the ‘quaint’ fishing village of Old Leigh, relaxing beaches and walks along the prom or through the gardens in Westcliff, the noisier more contemporary feel of the new central area of Marine Parade, the slightly more commercial seaside bits of Southchurch with give way to the wide greens and beaches of Thorpe Bay. Scattered along the coast are watersport facilities, seaside bars and cafes, paddling pools etc. Then on around the bend into Shoebury where the now emerging Gunners Park is the splendid back drop and through to East Beach with its far wilder, more natural aspects.

East Beach

Yes, there is a place, indeed there are many places, for candy floss and toffee apples, bucket and spades and sand castle building, yes there is space for amusement arcades and pubs, there is space aplenty for fish and chip shops and icecream stalls, indeed there is space within the current built areas for virtually everything any one could want. So why not aspire to improve the public realm, to assist business by smartening up a bit, to seek to attract a wider range of visitors and to provide them with reasons to spend money here.- Improved hotels- we’ve got some and more are likely to come, seaside cafes and bars and maybe a couple of new or refurbished ones somewhere, a magnificent water fountain feature to keep the kids happy when the tide is out (and probably when its in too) new  illuminated lighted masts with state of the art digital lighting effects, trees to wander through and areas to sit in, Adventure Island- it does a sterling job, a new Pier Pavillion( its coming this year) 

Artists impression of the new Pier Pavillion

an arts programme to attract and entertain visitors is on the way, the Cliffs Pavillion too offers a really full range of entertainment. Oh and lets not forget the proposed new Museum which will shore up the cliffs, provide a major new carpark and offer a truly inspiring museum complete with all the educational facilities one would need, a restaurant with a view to die for and some much needed indoor entertainment to draw in tourists from across the country and to keep them happy when the sun is shy ! Extending our offer, creating opportunity, investing in our assest working to promote our Town and improve its economics-  If all of this is PRADA on SEA then I say bring it on!

Southend Deserves it!

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