Tag Archives: southend on sea

Q. When is an Independent not an Independent?

A. When he’s teamed up with a Lib-Dem!

The so called Independent candidate in St Luke’s has joined forces with last year’s Lib Dem candidate for St Luke’s and SKIPP sympathiser. The stated object to get rid of the sitting ward Cllr Anna Waite.

Whilst I am sure Cllr Longley will disown this collusion, it would not be the first time he has done this. In 2006 the LibDems colluded with an independent and quite probably UKIP and Labour too. This collusion was confirmed to me by Mike Grimwade (LibDem) who said that he disliked the collusion that had taken place and hoped I would not hold it against him!

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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.

Snow Far Snow Good

Much to the relief of local traders and those residents that need to drive and go about their business at the weekend Southend on Sea has avoided the snow to date. However, bad weather is forecast his coming week and the elderly will need to be extra careful. The elderly are far more vulnerable to falling and slipping and the consequent, breaks, sprains and bruising etc often has far greater consequences for them. Once hospitalised it is far more difficult for the elderly to return to their homes and their independence.

So please let’s pull together if we get snow or ice, let’s look out for elderly neighbours and help them to stay safe indoors rather than venturing to the shops. If you have concerns about a neighbour and cannot contact them please contact the Council directly on 215000.

Further advice around gritting and any disruption caused by adverse weather can be found here

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!

Bonfire of the Quangos fails to burn brightly!

…winding up dozens of government quangos could exceed any savings for up to 20 years. Francis Maude, the Cabinet…only £6m of funding each year. Colin Talbot, professor…it will be 10, 15 or even 20 years before any money is saved… Sunday Times 24/10/10   

One has to wonder at this ridiculous situation, where due to redundancy pay and lease commitments it could take years for the bonfire of the quangos to produce any significant savings.

Is health intrisically linked to economic welfare?

 I attended a meeting of East of England Cllrs and health officials from the Primary Care Trusts and the NHS in the week. The purpose of the meeting was to consider how we might move forward in the light of the Health White Paper. However, we were also told of some ‘structures’ that were going to apply in the future and these will be based around the old regional areas. The East of England is slowly disappearing, so why is health still wedded to the old structures. This then raised another question, if our economic partnerships are not solely East of England based, and it is pretty definite that they will not be, does not having one set of partners for health and economic progress not make better sense.

Health inequalities are clearly linked to economic prosperity; the white paper and the Minister have health inequalities as substantial and important drivers. Indeed improving the health of the poorest fastest is a key aim ( and one which I fully  and wholeheartedly support ). Why then split the organisations that need to work together into, on the one hand, 2 static geographically placed and soon to be lost regional areas and on the other a separate economic area which straddles two if not more of the older regions. This is frankly setting us up for duplication, more meetings than sense and must impact of effective working and delivery.

The Comprehensive Spending Review

No doubt tomorrow’s papers will be full of the various scenarios for differing types of families, personally I think we need to wait to see the fine print, but in so far as I can see in respect of my resposibilities – Health, Adult Social Care and Housing, its not as bad as I had feared.  Over the past few months we have considered various depths of  savings and how we might best achieve these with the least impact on residents. Now at last we stop the guess work and actually start to plan with the real figures.

If you have any suggestions on what should be sacrisanct, what could be done better and what we could reduce,  now would be an ideal time to let me know so that your  views can be considered.