It may sound dramatic, but we all yearn for a return for a vibrant Southend High Street. I’m sorry to say, that it is struggling, and has been for quite some time.
The need to overhaul the housing sector whether to rent or to buy is now more drastically required than ever before. There is widely said to be a ‘housing crisis’ which affordable housing might help to solve.
Seafront traders are concerned about the potential loss of car parking spaces for visitors – but are these worries justified? When these plans were originally developed in 2012 under a Conservative administration, they were for a new leisure facility that would help revitalise that part of the seafront and town centre. However, it’s easy for people to criticise a single development without fully understanding the whole picture and vision the council have for Southend-on-Sea.
Businesses and experts representing the retail sector say the primary barrier to footfall is excessive parking charges, yet the current administration raised them, and during this year’s budget cycle, a proposal changing rates was pushed through on a named vote, deleting the 1, 3 and 5-hour bands. These changes were objected to at Scrutiny Committee, as the opposition knew that these proposals would cause serious problems to the businesses in the high street, as residents would have to pay for 2 hours to pop to the bank or optician for example, but the administration responded that they were not putting up charges. It was further exacerbated by listing this change as “budget saving” when it was actually a £700,000 revenue generating item.
Most of us will know a victim of doorstep crime. We may even have fallen victim ourselves. Rogue traders are criminals. They appear to be professional tradespeople, using glossy leaflets, websites and well-presented vehicles to portray a legitimate business but these are used to con people.
Philip Miller and I don’t often see eye to eye but on the demise of the High Street we definitely do. I understand his and other people’s frustration that the council administration has only just woken up to the fact that the High Street is in dire need of support. It needs help to make it a place we want to visit, rather than it being known as a place where most of Southend’s homeless gather.
The general demise of Southend – ‘Dire Street’ as I now call Southend High Street, can be traced back to neglect by Councils over the years. My Dad always said, ‘there is nothing that’s been done that can’t be undone’. With regard to our High Street, the situation is so ‘dire’ I feel it is a case of acting now before it’s too late!
This article concentrates on the growing number of vehicles on England’s roads – a rise of almost 2.5 million over the last five years (7.7%), despite the amount of road space only increasing by 0.6%. Clearly Southend is not immune from the same pressures as England and is suffering from an already crumbling infrastructure. We residents cannot help but notice the increase in traffic and poor condition of the roads and footways in Southend-on-Sea, and we need to ensure they are brought back to a good, if not excellent, condition.
Following on from last month’s article on housing and the infrastructure needed, something that needs to be borne in mind is the additional vehicles and the impact this will have on air quality. The Council, in its wisdom, are looking to monitor and improve air quality in certain parts of the borough, but unfortunately it seems to be concentrated along Princes Avenue, the Bell Junction and Priory Crescent.
I refer readers to an old subject I have raised previously in the Oracle - that is of course Adult Social Care.The number of care homes in England has fallen by 735 over the last two years, with a further 159 nursing homes lost in the same period.
I believe that the Council has to take the lead and support its local residents. The local Conservative Cabinet Member, who is responsible for adult social care and health, firmly believes that the specialist stroke and rehabilitation unit should remain here in Southend-on-Sea and I fully support that position.
Probably, like many residents, I am appalled by the state of our pavements and highways. This cannot continue as the damage caused to residents and vehicles is extremely high in terms of cost and health.
It is time for the council to re-think its policy around the affordability of residents having somewhere decent to live, either renting properties or on the first step of the property ladder.
I believe the majority of residents in Southend-on-Sea are fully behind the redevelopment proposals of Queensway, the town centre, Victoria Avenue and the stadium at Fossetts Way. However, these developments cannot, and should not, be allowed to have a major impact on the roads further east of town.