Council seeks feedback on Southend City Centre Strategy

Southend Council is looking for residents’ views on its City Centre Strategy.

The £120,000 strategy will draw up plans for the city’s future for years to come, and will include future development, business growth, education, culture, job creation and transport.

The council says it has employed the services of an architect and “urbanism experts” along with a team of specialists and consultants to advise on business opportunities, infrastructure, costs and town centre access.

The strategy was approved last year by councillors and a consultation was finally launched this month with a drop in event in the High Street.

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group welcomed the strategy but said residents have not been properly informed about the drop in on the strategy that ends on May 27.

Cllr Cox said: “This is all about the future of our city. We all know the issues. I think having just one engagement event wasn’t good enough and I’m reminding everyone if you want a city centre fit for purpose then you have to give your views.

“It was one event in the day when most people were not around. I had an email inviting me to it the day before. It was agreed last summer as a procurement process but there have been no meetings or workshops and the public have been largely unaware.”

Leading Southend businessman, Philip Miller, said: “Hopefully they will come up with some imaginative doable stuff that no one else has ever thought of?

“What would worry me though is why pay outside consultants who know nothing about the town to tell us what the average man in the street can tell you for free.

“All these guys do is pick all the local brains wrap it up in a glossy report collect their money and disappear over the hills and far away.

“Most likely the report will finish up in someone’s bottom drawer.”

Ian Gilbert, cabinet member for economic recovery and regeneration, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people drop by to take part in the consultation last week, and for those who were unable to make the in-person session, the consultation is still available online.

“I encourage as many people as possible to take part in the online survey so that we can develop a strategy that reflects the views of Southend’s residents.”

To give your views, go to: https://yoursay.southend.gov.uk/city-centre-strategy-and-vision-2022

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter