Battle of Britain Day

St John’s was full this morning for the service in memory of the Battle of Britain. The Mayor and David Amess MP attended  but perhaps the most important attendees were the 5 Chelsea pensioners who had managed to come from London for the service and the veterans of the Southend area. The Air Cadets were out in force looking professional and thankfully the sun shone. I wonder for how many more years this service will continue, will it succumb to the ‘what’s it to me’ or the ‘I can’t be bothered to turn up on a Sunday morning’ set? I hope not, I hope it does continue, it means a great deal to those who were involved and it should mean a great deal to those of us that are younger and that owe them so much.





And yet… and yet… I can’t pretend the turnout by
councillors was all that I might hope for. I absolutely understand that on any
given date a certain portion of councillors will be genuinely unavailable but I
would expect that portion to remain firmly a minority. Councillors are supposed
to be civic leaders, representing their town, their residents and their ward.
Commemorating events such as the Battle of Britian and supporting the part it
plays in our history and national identity is important.

Now I won’t mention any names since individuals may have
good reasons for having missed the ceremony, but I must ask where were the
Liberal Democrats? I mean any of them? Because I couldn’t see a single Lib Dem
Cllr present. Where were the Independents? Only one independent was present out of 9. Labour I realise has a smaller group and given the small number of their councillors their turnout wasn’t too bad.

Because I’m not trying to be political I’d also point out
that I’d like to have seen rather more Conservatives at the event. Council
officers were also notable in their absence. Senior officers who work for the
town should realise that their role includes showing attendance at events
such as this.

But for only a single Independent, no senior officer and no
Liberal Democrat to have attended… such a poor show.

The Forum at Elmer Square gets the go ahead!

Southend’s Development Control Committee has today approved the plans for the development of a new building at Elmer Square subject to the Committee approving the Management Plan for the proposed public display screen before its installation. elmer Square is off elmer Approach which was remodelled last year

The new building will be called ‘The Forum’ with
construction commencing in February 2012 and hopefully the new building will be opening to the public on 30th September 2013.

The redevelopment of Elmer Square is a partnership between Southend-on-Sea
Borough Council, the University of Essex and South Essex
College of Further & Higher Education. The £26.9 million scheme will include an integrated municipal and academic Central Library and digital gallery, a modern teaching facility for South EssexCollege, and a stimulating research and learning environment for the University
of Essex.

The 9,450m2 building will include a 203 seat lecture theatre, a new café, teaching space for approximately 600 students at any one time with study space for a further 450 students and will also be the new home of the Focal Point Gallery.

The new integrated public and academic library will include a main reading area approximately 40% bigger than the existing central Library, over 100 ICT stations and over 200 other seats. The Children’s Library will be located on the ground floor providing enhanced access whilst the building will be located in a new public square.

The new building will be funded jointly by the Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College .

Essex Police Update on Riots

This email is sent on
behalf of Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson

Following on from the violent disorder seen across London and in cities across
the UK, I wanted to write to you with some reassurance on the situation in Essex. We have sought to keep our communities informed and yesterday put out a strong message to the public via our website and twitter, as well as through the media.

We have seen no violent disorder in Essex akin to what has been
happening in larger cities across the country. Where there has been minor
disorder, Essex Police has acted quickly to make arrests. On Monday following a
burglary in Buckhurst Hill, 13 men were arrested, and following minor damage to a police vehicle in Loughton, two male youths were arrested. In Harlow, four people were arrested for minor damage in the town centre.  We have seen a number of young people gathering in large groups in various places across the county, but Essex Police has taken immediate action by deploying public order officers to disperse such groups. This early intervention has meant we have not seen any large scale disorder.

Last night (Tuesday) Police officers arrested a 17-year-old man from Clacton for incitement to commit violent disorder after comments were published on facebook encouraging people to gather at a location in Essex and cause
disorder.  The man remains in police custody. We also arrested two
teenagers from Grays and South Ockendon, for
sing social networking websites for incitement to commit violent
disorder.  Essex Police is monitoring social media and will not tolerate
anyone who uses the internet or any electronic communication device to send
inaccurate and false messages intending to incite disorder, or cause alarm.

Essex Police has a robust plan in place and is utilising additional resources by calling officers and staff in to work on their rest days. We have been providing support to colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service. We currently have between 50 – 100 officers in London at any one time from within our establishment of over 3000 police officers, over 400 PCSOs and several hundred Special Constables.

Your support is important to us. When you are speaking to the public please help us by reassuring them that Neighbourhood Policing teams remain in place across Essex and Police Officers, PCSOs and Special Constables are working in communities to ensure a high visibility policing presence. Essex Police is doing all it can to ensure Essex remains a safe place to live and
work and will continue to work with partners across the criminal justice system
to ensure that any criminality is dealt with swiftly and robustly.

You can also assist the police by encouraging the public to call 999 if they witness any incidents taking place or to call our non emergency number 101 or 0300 333 4444 to pass on information or intelligence.

We are updating our website with the latest information in Essex
throughout the day and night, so this is the best place to look for updates
should the situation change.

Thank you for your continued support and please get in touch if you have any further questions or comments.

Yours faithfully

Derek Benson

Deputy Chief Constable

We Must Not Lose Sight of The Jobs

Whilst exciting new destinations are announced at very reasonable prices we must not lose sight of  the reason why Southend approved the airport works- jobs, some will be airside but the majority will be in the adjoining Saxon Business Park and economic turndown or not this has to happen and it needs driving forward by Rochford and Southend Councils.

Green Flags for Southend Parks

Belfairs, Priory, Southchurch and Chalkwell Parks have all secured Green Flags for 2011/12.

external links-  Green flag Awards from Keep Britian Tidy

BBC News

The signs are up ‘Closing Down Sale’

Sorry to see TJ Hughes is pulling out of the High Street, given how busy it was I was hopeful that it might have been kept open by the administrators in the hope of finding a buyer.

On the positive side I suppose that since they did it all up, put in escalators etc it might be re let more easily.

Progress Road Junction Improvements Win Top Award

The Progress Road junction has just clinched a major award from Local Government News. (LGN) .The successful scheme won the “Highway” category of the LGN‟s Street Design 2011 Awards.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers that worked so hard to deliver what we asked for- on time and on budget and especially Paul Matheison and Karen Gearing who not only played a major role in delivering this project but also gave me immense support in the process.  Thank You and Well Done, you deservbe this award.

Progress Road junction is part of the Better Southend initiative, launched to help to make the borough a better place for residents, visitors and businesses to live, rest and work.

The LGN judges recognised how significantly the new Progress Road scheme was reducing traffic queues and delays at the junction, adding: ‘The work has provided local and national benefits and was completed on a tight budget.’

‘The infrastructure improvements achieved during the scheme will also enable further regeneration work to be carried out in the area.’

The new Progress Road junction provides additional lanes on both carriageways of the A127, allowing traffic to flow through the area more easily.

The £5m scheme, was delivered on time and on budget, and was funded by grants from the Homes & Communities Agency and from the Council‟ Capital Budget.

CCTV equipped cars go live from today

Anti-social motorists beware – two new CCTV-equipped parking enforcement cars have today started operating in Southend.

The brand new Toyota iQ cars are going operational in
response to residents’ concerns about dangerous parking practices, particularly
in the vicinity of schools.

Small charity do hit by need for events license

I learnt today of a group of work collegues in a local store who were planning to hold a small ‘talent’ competition to raise money for their chosen cause which had been required to gain an events license. Fortunately their company Tesco stepped in and paid up the £21.00 fee, not much, but surely Southend could consider accomodating such small fund raising events.

Southend Wins Auditing Award

 CIPFA praises innovation in cross sector working 

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has given Southend-on-Sea borough council a national award for innovation in internal audit.

The council’s internal audit services team won this year’s Cliff Nicholson Award for Innovation and Excellence in Public Service Audit for ‘ground breaking’ audit work, including a cross-partner review of the local safeguarding children board.

Linda Everard, head of internal audit at Southend-on-Sea borough council said:  ‘We are proud to be recognised by CIPFA for working with our public sector partners to help the Southend local strategic partnership assess whether services, which rely on cross sector working, are delivering real outcomes to the public and specifically local children.’

May 2011  read more