Council leader says visitors not welcome in Southend ahead of Easter weekend

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The leader of Southend Council has said visitors are not welcome during the Easter weekend and has urged people to stay at home to save lives.

The council has chosen not to close the seafront, despite earlier threats to do so, but car parks are to remain shut and roads could be closed during the four-day weekend.

Councillor Ian Gilbert urged people not to visit the town during the coronavirus lockdown, saying that now is not the time to be complacent.

“Last weekend we were pleased to see that most people stayed away from Southend and the campaign and parking measures introduced were effective,” he said.

“But we cannot be complacent and the message for Easter is the same.

“Don’t visit Southend. Stay away, stay home and save lives. Visitors are not welcome to Southend at this time. We will still be here when this is all over and we look forward to seeing you then.

“I would also urge residents to only exercise locally and only visit the seafront if they live in close proximity.”

Throughout the long weekend all seafront car parks will remain shut and parking in bays from Leigh to Shoeburyness is banned.

Other bays in Shoeburyness have also been suspended at Promenade Road, Ness Road, George Street, High Street Shoebury, Dane Street and Rampart Street.

The Cinder Path, which runs along the seafront from Chalkwell Train Station to Old Leigh, will also be closed because it is too narrow to allow people to be two metres apart as advised under social distancing guidance.

The council has said it also has a in place powers that will allow it to close roads if necessary.

Cllr Kevin Robinson, who oversees tourism said: “This really is a reminder that at the moment our seafront is closed for business.

“Please don’t visit Southend, please come and see us when we are all through this when we will very much be open for business once again.”

James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East also reiterated the appeal.

“In usual times you would be very welcome to visit Southend over a Bank Holiday weekend, but not during this national emergency,” he said.

“Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it, so please stay at home and don’t visit Southend.

“The more people follow these rules, the quicker we will be able to beat coronavirus and return to a level of normality.”

Meanwhile the manager of Southend BID, Suzanne Gloyne, said it is clear many are already listening to government advice but “it is important people do not waiver when the weather improves”.

She added: “If visitors continue to stay away then this pandemic will end sooner meaning businesses can re-open and normality can resume.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter

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