Date: January 2020
We are living at a time where there seems to be so much bad news, anger and resentment in the world that it is worth remembering that it can be the simple things that can make us happiest.
A drink or meal with family and friends, a walk in the park or a stroll along the seafront are simple pleasures that most enjoy. We are lucky to live in an area where these things are possible and it’s worth remembering that Southend began as a tourist resort. One wonders how many visitors to the town bother returning these days.
For us residents, we need the council to stop the permeant bickering about policies and concentrate on getting through what is best for the town and its environment and not what is best for their egos.
Basic things spring to mind. Improve road surfaces for the whole town not just certain wards. I would like to see proof that spending is split equally between the 17 wards. I recently put in a Freedom of Information request asking for this information and was told it was not available. If it isn’t recorded, then it should be.
Builders are legally bound to repair any damaged pavements caused from their work. Yet with so many house improvements being carried out, some are left in appalling condition after work is completed. This is particularly dangerous for disabled people and older people. This legislation is not strictly enforced and would be relatively easy for officers to monitor as they know where permission for work has been granted.
Most locals consider the Town Centre to be an embarrassment. The quality of shops and restaurants has deteriorated (with a few exceptions) and the general feeling of safety is often questioned. Southend now has some of the highest drug-related crime figures in the country. Where are the extra Police officers that we were promised gone?
It’s a sad fact that it is quite possible that the chance to redevelop Southend into a vibrant shopping area like Chelmsford has become, has passed.
We need to improve the whole experience of living and visiting our town.
One problem we have is the infrastructure. New housing developments, the multitude of out of town supermarkets and just 2 main roads coming into the town means gridlock most weekends let alone when the warm weather arrives. Park and Ride works in Chelmsford and Cambridge surely it can be developed out of town for Southend. (Not the current idea which is bizarrely based on the seafront).
For those that insist on driving, create more parking. The debacle of the Seaway Project sell off, is only going to make the problem worse. Replacing it with a leisure park is an idea from the 1990’s. Cinemas across the country are losing money due to the popularity of Netflix and Amazon Prime and the restaurant trade is suffering terribly in the town. Does anybody really think that a couple of restaurant chains will make Southend thrive? A new hotel being built isn’t going to be successful unless there is a huge increase in demand to come and stay.
My concern is, over the years seafront parking has been greatly reduced, just one example was the loss of spaces for the cycling track. Accessible parking for the seafront is essential and the Seaway development planned parking won’t be enough to service both the seafront and the new development plans, during the towns busy periods. Where will they park and will they bother to visit again? Southend’s main attraction is its seafront and what we don’t want is for seafront traders to stop investing in their businesses!
Also, make life easier for those that wish to travel by train. Cuts in bus services and the Council’s lack of pressure in enforcing routes, is another huge negative. For example, Chalkwell doesn’t have a bus route that runs within half a mile of the station.
It is time that we begin to run the town as a business and not as a political battleground. We have many thriving businesses in Southend so why not engage with the entrepreneurs who understand business acumen and customer needs to put together a plan to rejuvenate the town? The area has so many fantastic things to encourage people of all ages to live and visit us. We have fantastic parks, the new sporting and wellbeing facilities at Garon Park, the relaxed atmosphere of Old Leigh and the hustle of the Golden Mile.
There really is something for everyone here, but we have to unleash the potential.