Southend Council looks to invest in roads, parking, schools and the pier

Southend Council has unveiled plans to resurface roads, improve housing, invest in schools and carry out long-term maintenance on the pier over the next 12 months.

The £47million investment aimed at improving Southend’s infrastructure has been proposed by the council in a budget which still has to be approved by the full council.

It includes spending £3.2million on local roads and pavements with £1million going on resurfacing and reparing potholes, £650,000 on improving road junctions, £600,000 on zebra crossing improvements and £450,000 on enhancing the conditions of pavements around trees.

The council’s deputy leader Ron Woodley said that a particular focus is also being placed on resurfacing the East Beach Car Park where he hopes to see extra lighting and a new pathway to the station.

He said: “This work would mean people coming to visit Southend and Shoeburyneess in particular can walk to East Beach on a lit park while for those who want to drive, they will have a suitable car park for them.”

A further £5.3million will be spent on maintaining and refurbishing the pier which Mr Woodley said was an ongoing investment that needs to be committed to ensure the pier’s long-term survival .

This will be on top of the £16million already allocated to the pier last year to replace the trains and build a new restaurant and a visitor’s pavilion.

The one-hour town centre parking band that was reintroduced in autumn 2019 will also be maintained and all charges for council-owned car parks will be frozen for a second year, meaning prices will not go up.

Most of the investments are due to be funded through borrowing but Mr Woodley stressed that the money would only be borrowed as the projects get underway.

“The external borrowing will be about £45million but we are borrowing now and investing in infrastructure and into the town. This is the cheapest time to do it because we don’t know what will happen in the future.

“When you look at the capital programme you will see that for the next two years it is really forward loaded and that’s when we will be borrowing the amount we need to borrow to make sure these schemes come together.”

He went on to promise that the council will deliver on many of the projects that were allocated funding in previous years, including the Airport Business Park, a new care home in Prittlewell Chase and the Forum 2.

“These projects will happen this year. We keep saying they will happen but this time they will happen,” he said.

In addition the council expects to receive a £2.6million funding boost from the Government for the improvement of local schools. This money will go towards the ongoing expansion of the borough’s schools, allowing Chase High School to admit an extra 30 pupils in September 2020 followed by a second increase of 30 in September 2021.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter