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.
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)
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!
I often contrast Brighton with Southend – to demonstrate how backward Southend Conservative policies are. Brighton has done a huge amount to promote bus travel, bus lanes and cycling; giving the town a reputation as progressive and trendy. Southend is focussed upon catering for ever greater car use, making life as miserable as possible for pedestrians and increasing danger for cyclists wiuth some of the most dangerous cycles lanes in the country.
I was on the sea front on Saturday and noted that a brighter sunnier day was bringing out the visitors. What Southend Conservatives have done is to create a terrible experience for pedestrians. There are no clear pedestrian crossings and I saw a family group, withn one in a wheelchair, wait ages for a motorist to flash them and permit them to get across the road. It has been around 25 years since conservative values (e.g. selfish fast driving) resulted in the death of a young girl on the sea front but now Conservative values have demanded the removal of the speed bumps, we can expect another youngester to be killed or seriously injured soon. Will Mrs Waite be visiting the parents of that child to explain why that child’s death was justified in order to appease those who want the fun and convenience of driving fast?
For me that is a more important issue than any economic benefits of tourism but I cannot believe that tourists are going to enjoy the experience of more road danger and road violence on the seafront. Many will come this summer and decide not to come back.
If we had a progressive council we would make the seafront experience safe, family friendly, walking and cycling centred. We would do what Brighton has done and deter motorists through very high car parking charges and move people around the town quickly by vigorously promoting bus lanes and buses.