Category Archives: general

Our Golden Mile is Back

As Councillors, our MP, senior officers and contractors gathered with the Mayor and Sir Bob Kerslake last Friday evening for the switching on of the new illuminated masts one could not help but feel we had our Golden Mile back.

What had promised to be a rainy event was transformed as the western sky was lit with a truly magnificent rose gold sunset which seemed to glow over the proceedings, the Amusement Arcades and businesses of Marine Parade were resplendent with their Vegas style lights and as the City Beach Project comes to a close it really does seem to have achieved its aim in removing the tarnish and giving us a Golden Mile.

The Mayor touched the screen on the remote and after a slight hesitation the Illumination jumped to life, colours changed, patterns evolved and as it grew darker they became ever more eye catching.  

Mariner’s Square with the many water jets is virtually complete, the toilets and foreshore building are well in hand, the trees and planting look really good and are nearly complete and the Illumination masts, well you will either love them or hate them, but I hope you will agree that the Golden Mile is once again Golden!

Advertisements

Shame on You

Last night the Council discussed the terms of the airport lease. Following the meeting as I was leaving a woman came up to me and said in my face- Shame on you.

Is it shameful to restrict the number of night flights?

Is it shameful to control the noise emissions of the planes?

Is it shameful to ensure the direction of landing and takeoff  is, as much as possible, over the least populated areas?

Is it shameful to cap the total number of flights?

Is it shameful to require a second instrument landing facility?

Is it shameful to restrict the amount of cargo?

Is it shameful to want to provide more jobs for Southend and Rochford residents?

No I don’t think so- the shameful thing is that SAEN still persist in objecting to all of the above and post inaccurate personal comments on their website ! Madame, whoever you were- Shame on you.

The full list of conditions being imposed v the existing can be seen here –Conditions proposed v existing

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!

Care standards for elderly protected by Council

Southend is protecting the elderly, vulnerable and front line services.

There should be no discernable change in the standard or care for residents, we are doing everything we can to protect the standards we expect for them, indeed we are getting far firmer about where we will support residents, as being in a good quality home can make a lot of difference as time goes by.

A misleading article in last weeks Echo (Friday) features a gentleman Mr Gelfand and has the headline-

‘Care homes threatened by Southend Council cuts’

I  must question this, his comments and also why the Echo ran the story without checking it out and without carrying a balancing comment.

Firstly for the facts- yes we are asking homes to accept a 5% cut in the fee we pay for each Southend funded resident. Southend has to achieve very significant savings and it is considered that we have to pass some of the reduction on.

Southend officers have held consultations with both care homes and their professional body. The letter sent to the care homes folloiwing those consultations can be read Here 

Southend officers have made it very clear that if a home feels that the 5% cut will result in difficulties or a loss service for our residents they may come to the officers for their position to be considered- we would of course expect to see their accounts in these circumstances.

Southend officers have found a number of cost saving inititiatives that they have passed on to the care homes which should facilitate the saving for example-working closer together and bulk purchasing.

Now Mr Gelfand attended the meeting and is well aware of this and the report that went to Cabinet also states this.

Mr Gelfand’s care home  is part of a larger group which, I am informed, posted a significant profit last year, yet it is still not achieving the standards that Southend expects for its residents and Southend officers have actually had to assist this home to raise its standards.

We now only place residents in the better performing homes, but we do not insist that residents already placed in less desirable accomodation move.

We are also asking the managers of our own care homes to achieve similar if not higher savings.

No home that is open and honest with us and can demonstrate that they really cannot do anything to save money will be subjected to the 5% cut.

Southend Deserves it!

Visit the Echo and sign up to show your support. Achieving City Status would Southend a real boost. Read what our residents have to say about it

Cambridge to Southend Cycle Ride or a 10 mile shorter ride!

That’s right a 74mile ride from Cambridge to Southend- ‘Cam to Coast’ or if you cannot manage that then go for one of 10 mile stretches at the start or end. All in aid of the The British Heart Foundation- cycling is good for your health and your sponsorship money will go to a very good cause!

If you live in the Southend area, are a bit unsure about cycling 74 miles or want to make it a family event join in the short stretch from Leigh along the seafront, take it easy, perhaps stop a while at the new City Beach or to enjoy the Estuary views which are always great whether the tides in or out, perhaps  take a picnic or BBQ and enjoy East Beach. You should be able to train back to Leigh if you cannot arrange a lift home!

26th March 2011

For more details or to register visit the Continue reading

Supporting the Local Shops

Last week I commented that I had heard a rumour that Sainsbury were to open in Southchurch, that has now been confirmed along with 25 new jobs in the store. However, we must applaud the views of Ashby’s Butchers, they are right, local shops will benefit from more trade if the larger stores pull more shoppers to an area, but only if the local stores develop their unique selling point and adapt to the competition. It’s all to easy to complain rather than get on and do it, well done Ashby’s.

Southchurch Road seems to be on the up, I do not know if the takings reflect this, but over the past few years the shops have smartened up, the range has improved and generally it feels more alive, the new homes that have gone in along with the street improvements have hopefully given it a boost too. 

Although I get much of my main shop in the larger supermarkets I do support smaller shops in the town, but perhaps not enough year round.  So I for one shall make a point of shopping at Ashby’s Butchers as well as the other smaller traders I already support about the town. After all if we want to keep them we must use them and for those that cannot access the edge of town supermarkets they are essential.

The Terratorial Army is back in Southend.

I attended  a presentation this evening at the now re-opened TA base in St Luke’s, very interesting.  They are recruiting in Southend and hope to build up their numbers from within  a 15 mile radius. It’s a 5 year commitment, 28 days per year minimum plus 1 year on full duty . Full support is given to employers whilst their staff member is away. The specialism of the regiment  is explosive ordnance disposal,( land mines, IED’s etc.) for which full training is obviously  given but also available are B Tech and other recognised qualifications and apparently quite a lot of team building and outdoor pursuits!

Cuckoo Corner

Today we see a very negative SKIPP press release about Cuckoo Corner, (only to be expected really in the circumstances)  last year they had 100 trees going, then 100 year old trees going, damage to the park, broken promises etc- none true and now a whole article about 28 sets of lights causing delay and all before the junction is even finished!

Truth is the A 127 pedestrian crossing had to be removed to build the 3rd lane, so the lights were turned on early to help pedestrians, but the detector loops are still to go in, the sequencing sorted and the lanes to be opened -oh and yes the signage and planting and much more still has to go in too….

There are three  ‘sets of lights’ on the arms of the 3 main roads entering/ exiting the roundabout and upto 4 sets controlling movements around the roundabout thats 7 sets not 28 sets. All sets of lights require more than one post so that all motorists and road users can see them.

To see how the junction will work in real time visit here the short simulation starts with the Bell junction before moving to a relatively basic model of Cuckoo Corner- the point is that the lights will better distribute the traffic depending on the amount cars appeoaching the roundabout thus allowing for smoother circulation, once one gets a green light on the roandabout junction one will be able to pass through all the remaining lights on green unless doing a 360 when one will have to wait once at a red. The lights will be adapted for differing times of day and differing traffic flows, the loops will detect the start of a queue and cause the sequecing to adapt. 

i actually went through last week from West to Eas quite quickly but there was a queue East to west, but then thee was also a lane closure and works further along, today I went through, again west to east very quickly when usually at that time i would have held up from about KFC and  there were no queues beyond about 4 cars in Priory Crescent.

A Bird's Eye View

Here is the lastest bird’s eye view of the works outside Victoria Station, the new Square or circle can clearly be seen, showing the extend of the new pedestrianised area outside the Station and the improved area to the rear of the Odeon.

The removal of the old roundabout will make for easier pedestrian access from Victoria Station and Avenue to the High Street and vice versa. It has  allowed for the creation of a new public square, with new trees that will soon be going in, and better bus and cyclist facilities. The new junction will also see improvements to the traffic flow.

At long last there will be a decent entrance to the town centre replacing the old roundabout where  The Odeon and The Victorias turned their backs on the entrance to the main retail area of the town and beyond and where for years visitors have struggled to find the High Street  and a way across the traffic to it!