Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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Lane closures A127- Keeping The Town Looking Good

Please be advised that between 09:30 and 15:30 on the following days the following sections of the A127 will be subject to lane closures in lane 2.

Tuesday 1st February – Borough Boundary – Progress Road- postponed

Tuesday 8th February – Progress Road – Bell house Lane

Tuesday 15th February – Bell house Lane – Kent Elms

Tuesday 22nd February – Kent Elms – Tesco’s / Nestuda Roundabout, brought forward to 1st Feb.

 Provisional – Tuesday 1ST March  – Lane 1 Kent Elms to just beyond Brendan Way.

The primary works are for maintenance of the central reservations.
The opportunity has been taken to arrange for Street Lighting to carryout their works and an invitation has been extended to Street Scene for their contractor to carry out both a litter pick and gully cleaning exercise.

The Contractors at Progress Road have been involved and they may also take the opportunity to carryout any suitable activities.

Echo makes amends

Following the inaccurate reporting of my comments last week the Echo has now done the decent thing and run the fuller more accurate record of my views, for which I thank them-

IF Southend is to thrive, we need to provide homes for future generations. That is why I have started a debate about whether we should allow more tall buildings in certain parts of the borough.

Following my interview in the Echo, let me make it clear I did not suggest we should put families into tower blocks.

To relieve pressure for one and two-bed flats and stem the loss of family homes, we should build some taller buildings in a few locations, for sale or rental on the open market. I was discussing properties young professionals or older single individuals might be able afford to buy or rent, not social housing.

Southend is constrained to the north by Rochford green belt, to the south and east the estuary, and to the west Hadleigh Castle. Virtually all the land within Southend is currently park, woodland or built upon.

Southend needs to move forward, to increase employment, to reduce dependency on benefits and importantly to retain its youth and attract other youngsters. A town that does not encourage growth settles for decline, a growing elderly population and insufficient youngsters to provide the wherewithall to support them.

Residents object to planning applications for tall buildings, yet complain when lower four or five-storey buildings replace a pair of semis and when family housing gets converted to flats. We simply cannot have it both ways.

I do not support an explosion of tall buildings across the town any more than I support the loss of our family homes, but I do support the building of well-designed taller buildings in selected town centre and seafront sites, to remove the pressure of inappropriate development across the town and the irreplaceable loss of family homes.

The majority on the council housing list want one or two-bed flats. Most young professionals seek well-designed, centrally located one or two-bed flats and changing lifestyles has resulted in a need for one or two-bed properties for older residents.

Yet Southend seems determined to prevent taller developments. Instead we see areas like Westborough and St Luke’s hopelessly over-converted into flats and areas like Leigh are becoming magnets for flat conversion.

Meanwhile, the jewel in our town, the Prittlewell conservation area, is now but a few steps removed from bedsitland, as once elegant and sought after town houses are converted into flats.

Where there is more demand than supply it becomes very lucrative to convert homes into flats and the benefit system supports higher rents.

The areas for such taller buildings are in the adopted planning masterplan and include the Victoria Avenue hinterlands, where there are currently tall buildings like the Civic Centre, and within the central seafront area. Not Leigh or Southchurch or Thorpe Bay, nor Prittlewell or any other area where a tall building would stick out like a sore thumb or detrimentally alter an area.

If we wish to preserve the character of certain areas, if we wish to keep the town vibrant with a well balanced community, if we wish to reduce the pressure on the conversion of small family homes into flats, we must consider building taller buildings in appropriate locations.

To correct any misunderstanding from the Echo article on Housing 30th Dec.

I did not suggest that we should put families into tower blocks as I do not support this. I said  that to relieve the pressure for 1 and 2 bed flats and stem the loss of family homes into converted flats we should consider  the  building of  some taller, well designed  buildings in a few carefully selected locations  and  I was discussing properties young professionals or older single individuals might be able to afford to buy or rent, not social housing.

The article by omission of the wider reasoning behind my comments has mis represented my views and in respect of families and and tower blocks put words in my mouth that were never there.

I have contacted the editor and attached my fuller comments, I have offered to meet with the Echo and to assist in correcting the errors and to contribute to a more balanced and fair article.

Tom Daley says our Pool is Awesome

Tom Daley has decscibed the new diving pool at Garon Park as awesome. He tweeted this to his 31,000 followers and I agree with him, if you have not been to have a look or better still for a swim do

Elmer Transformation

Mayor opens Elmer Approach 

 

 It’s now bright and cheerful by night as well as day with space for a pavement cafe or two and hopefully the side doors to the High Street sports wear shop might be brought back into use along with the refurbishment of the Prudential Building.

Elton John and Southend?

So Sir Elton wants to give his photography collection to the nation ( Friday’s One show) but says we do not have a photographic museum in this country, he went on to say that he would like to display all his objects to tell his story.

Well could Southend come to his rescue? We are designing and new museum, is it beyond our architects to incorporate a photographic section, might we find some room for his art collection and paraphernalia as well?  In return would Sir Elton part fund our new museum? These are questions I think worth exploring so once I have some answers I will post them and I would to know if you agree with me!

The flight from London starts

Following the announcement that housing benefit is to be capped London tenants are moving-

Inside Housing- ‘Councils in London are arranging to move local housing allowance claimants into accommodation as far away as Hastings, following cuts to housing benefit confirmed in the comprehensive spending review.  

London Councils revealed this week at a meeting of the work and pensions select committee that local authorities in central London have been block-booking private rented accommodation and bed and breakfast rooms in towns across the south of England.’ read more

This news, though not unexpected, is extremely worrying, Southend simply could not cope if this occurs here, we need to put our own residents first and are considering our allocations policy to strengthen this in respect of Southend council stock but private landlords do not have to abide by such policies. Once a resident has become ‘settled’ they become the responsibilty of Southend Council, need school places, health services and can go on our housing list!

Mixed up Values?

A somewhat moody young man who occasionaly kicks a ball between 3 posts, albeit more often than most, earns £1m per month and suns it in Dubai, whilst the chief  of a major organisation employing thousands and delivering a service to even more gets attacked for earning over £150k per year! Ah I hear you cry but the difference is public v private money- well not in every case and and whilst some earn such astronomical amounts is it any wonder that others, at the top of their professions, in large multi million organisations, be they in the public or private sector might  aspire or even deserve to earn  just asmall fraction of the excessive amount?

Council acts to prevent cold weather deaths

Having read the comment below this Echo  article I think I should clarify a few things. The dissemination of information to residents is not the ‘Nanny State’ and yes, we are well aware that many of those that most need assistance do not feel that they can ask for it and that many are owner occupiers, hence the article which is telling residents where to go for help and advice. The grants available are open to all and where a resident does not qualify for totally free insulation etc they can still benefit greatly from paying a small contribution.

Grants cover roof insulation, cavity wall insulation, boiler upgrades, double glazing etc and for those on certain benefits or over 70 can be free of charge. As the commenter says some have fought for this country and paid their taxes all their lives, so now is the opportunity to really help some of our more elderly residents and to direct them, or to phone on their behalf if you are worried, to the Council for advice.

Unfortunately the conditions as to who may receive some state benefits is open to exploitation and yes some scroungers will no doubt claim but that is no reason to stop others applying.