Southend councillors back city status bid

Councillors have unanimously thrown their weight behind Southend’s city status bid in the hope it will raise the town’s profile and lead to huge investment.

Concerns were raised at a meeting on Tuesday that entering the competition could come at huge costs, but council leader Ian Gilbert insisted it would not be a financial burden.

The application will point towards events like Southend Carnival, the Estuary Festival and Southend Shakedown as key reasons why Southend should become a city.

The grave of the Prittlewell Prince, seven miles of glorious beaches, and Southend’s thriving airport will also be highlighted.

Cllr Gilbert said: “I know people are worried around the potential costs.

“The government has actually gone out of its way to make the process as simple and as uncostly (sic) as they possibly can.

“I do think that this is an opportunity for us to actually build on work that has already been ongoing in the town in terms of putting us on the map.

“If we were to be successful in getting city status, whilst there is no one particular funding stream you can identify that comes with that, when I’ve spoken to people from other parts of the country who have successfully gained city status, thinking of Brighton, and closer to home, of Chelmsford, they’ve been clear that there have been benefits.

“It raised their profile and encouraged investments. I think it would be really lovely on the back of what’s been a really successful summer for the town.”

Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, worked with the council to help draw up the entry along with arts, cultural and voluntary groups.

Carole Mulroney, councillor for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “In the past I’ve always been very sceptical about this competition for want of a better word, mainly because of the cost and the sort of hype that goes around it, but given the government’s stance on this then I think that all of us should throw ourselves wholeheartedly into this.

“Southend is a fantastic place and we don’t sing about it enough and we really should be shouting from the rooftops.

“With the Southend arts festival that’s going on at the moment and the other things that are coming on stream there is so much going for this town and if we don’t make a good fist of this then it would be our fault and nobody else’s.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter