Southend councillor becomes first mayor to have term extended since WW2

THE Mayor of Southend has spoken of better days ahead and heaped praise on hospital workers and care home staff for saving lives in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative councillor John Lamb became Southend’s 99th mayor in May last year, a term which would usually last for 12 months.

But with Covid-19 crippling council business, he will now be the first mayor to have his term extended since the Second World War.

Speaking of the hardships that residents are facing he expressed a firm belief that things will get better.

“Everyone is suffering in one way or another right now, whether that is being stuck alone indoors or just not being able to see family,” he said.

“But there is going to be a better day tomorrow, it will get better and this won’t continue.

“A solution will be found and hopefully a cure to this and when it is, I hope we can all get back together and celebrate all those good people who put effort in to help us get through this but also commemorate those who died, some even giving their lives fighting this so that others can live.

“The people of Southend are in my prayers daily.”

Under normal circumstances Mr Lamb and his wife, Southend’s mayoress Pat Lamb, would be fundraising and representing the town at major events but with social distancing rules in place, he said they are doing what they can to thank the all health care workers.

“When it comes to the Thursday clap we go out to the front garden and join our neighbours and try to take a lead,” he continued.

“Just the other day we wore our chains to show that we are with everyone and supporting them.

“I sometimes hear that some people feel left out, such as care workers feeling they are forgotten in favour of the national health service but what I want to do once these restrictions is lifted is go out and see people and thank them for all the hard work and effort they have put in to keep us safe as they can.

“Some people have lost loved ones and if it wasn’t for those care workers and for the NHS those loved ones could have been all on their own. The nurses, doctors, care workers and support staff have been there at those very difficult times.”

Speaking of the challenges ahead once the virus is under control, he spoke of the difficulties that residents, businesses and the council will face in getting back on their feet.

For the council, the top priority will be making sure Southend’s businesses are able to move forward.

“After being the portfolio holder for culture and tourism over the years and encouraging businesses to invest in our seafront as well as the high street, then doing the same as leader of the council and as mayor, this is the first time I have ever had to say to people don’t come here.

“The reasons are right in that it is about the health of everyone but it goes against the grain when you think that our economy lives on tourism and all businesses are suffering as a result.

“I do hope we can get businesses back as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.

“We will need support from the government to do that.

“We collect business rate for them and while we get a percentage back, we need them to up that percentage so that we can put it back into the town and help our businesses which have taken a real beating.

“We also need to think of the residents, some are fortunate and can still get paid and can work from home but others are really suffering and we need to look at the way that we will be able to help get them back on their feet.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter