Council says no to VE Day street parties in Southend

SOCIALLY distancing street parties to celebrate 75 years since victory in Europe should not go ahead says Southend Council, after receiving requests to close roads.

Independent councillor Stephen Aylen spoke out about plans for VE Day events after Southend Council had to reject all requests – saying even those planning to celebrate in their front garden could be taking an unnecessary risk.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Carole Mulroney said they are aware a number of locally organised ‘Stay at Home street parties’ are being advertised on social media.

Cllr Aylen said: “People are seeing this as a huge party but we have people dying right now and frontline NHS staff working and risking their lives every day.”

“Some say this will be the same as going out and clapping on Thursdays but it won’t be. I’ve seen at least two applications to close roads. I think it is the wrong time to do this. When this is all over, yes.

“Even the Queen has stopped her planned celebration. Yes, it is 75 years but right now we need to stay home and stay safe, not go out talking to neighbours, passing sandwiches and drinks over, which is another problem can party food be considered essential?”

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the bank holiday was rearranged from May 4 to May 8 to encourage celebrations. Cllr Aylen acknowledged that his stance on the issue would not be popular among many residents.

He added: “I want my residents to survive. They may be alive and grumpy residents and they may not want to talk to me again. If I lose an election on the fact I wasn’t a nice guy, I’d rather that and residents be alive.

“In the war you didn’t have the celebrations during the war, you had them when it finished.”

Cllr Carole Mulroney said: “We are aware that a number of nationally and locally organised ‘Stay at Home street parties’ are being advertised on social media and other channels, primarily but not solely linked to the upcoming VE Day celebrations.

“Whilst we appreciate the importance of maintaining mental wellbeing at this time and can understand the desire to hold stay at home parties, we are concerned they could create health issues as we continue to fight this global pandemic.

“We are therefore urging residents to think carefully before organising or attending a stay at home street party, and if they decide to, we have issued thorough guidance on our website on holding a responsible stay at home street party, focussing on maintaining social distancing and encouraging respect and thought to all your neighbours.

“We have also received a small number of road closure applications. Whilst in normal circumstances we would welcome applications to celebrate VE day, it is very important to note that we are not in normal circumstances and have cancelled all events on council land at this time.

“This means that no road closures for stay at home street parties will be approved.”

Cllr Martin Terry, who oversees community safety, said: “As a nation we are still fighting this pandemic, and we all need to continue to work together to tackle the challenges we face.

“We are therefore asking anyone organising or ‘attending’ a stay at home party to please do so responsibly. Please consider your neighbours, please adhere to social distancing and please do not be tempted to mix with other households which could be dangerous and undo all the good work we have been doing as a community.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter