Plans in place for busy bank holiday on Southend’s seafront

Published Wednesday, 22nd May 2019

view of Westcliff beach on a sunny day

With fair weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend, the town is gearing up for another welcome influx of day-trippers.

The council and its partners are enacting “Operation Heatwave” – an operation that brings together teams responsible for highways, parking, waste, the police, CCTV and local businesses to prevent and respond to the opportunities and challenges good weather often bring.

A raft of measures is being put in place to help visitors find available parking spaces, dispose of litter responsibly, locate a public toilet and reunite lost children with their families.

Scott Dolling, director for culture, tourism and property for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “We are hoping many people will take the opportunity to visit our beautiful shores now with an extra blue flag this bank holiday.

“Anyone who lives here will know that on busy days, seafront car parks can fill up quickly and queues can form at payment meters at peak times. What’s more, cars queuing outside already-full car parks can lead to congestion.

“Throughout the weekend, we will be directing motorists to available parking spaces and encouraging use of the Mobon parking app to help tackle any queues at parking meters.

“Extra resource will be available to help deal with additional demand that a busy weekend can create and there are some fantastic reasons to visit during the bank holiday and half term period. Central museum has the new Saxon display whilst the London Shipwreck exhibition is now in its last two months. Focal Point Gallery has a new exhibition of local artist John Wonnacott whilst there is live music on at the Bandstand in Priory Park and of course the Southend Film Festival will be in full flow.

For the latest visitor information, see the Visit Southend website.

The following actions all contribute to Operation Heatwave:

Keeping safe

Southend’s new Community Safety Team will be patrolling the town centre and seafront throughout the bank holiday weekend. The Community Safety Officers will provide a welcome and reassuring presence to visitors and residents alike and deal with reports of antisocial behaviour.

Parking

Vehicles queuing to access already full seafront car parks can contribute to congestion in the town. As town centre car parking is cheaper than peak-season parking by the beaches, visitors could spend less time and money getting to the beach by parking up in town and walking.

Most town centre car parks are a mere five-to-ten minute walk from the seafront. You can find a list of Council Carparks and availability here.

We will again be deploying staff into our two busiest seafront car parks, Seaways and Fairheads, to help visitors find parking spaces and assist them with paying for parking and handing out visitor guides.

Visitors can avoid queuing at parking meters by downloading the Mobon parking app before they depart and paying on their phone when they arrive. This also offers the added benefit of enabling you to top up your parking from your phone if you end up staying longer than you thought you would.

The Blue Flag award winning beaches at Shoebury and Thorpe Bay also offer great places to enjoy the seaside and thousands of parking spaces, with many available when central areas are full. Signage will be in place to help direct visitors to these beaches.

Parking at Southend Civic Centre and the Beecroft Gallery will also be signed from Victoria Avenue over the weekend, giving visitors the opportunity to park all day from £3.

Public Toilets

As last year, extra portable toilets will be made available on the central seafront area to reduce queueing at permanent public toilet facilities. New public toilets have also been created at the pier entrance.

Beach safety

The Council offers the following advice to help ensure a visit to the beach is remembered for all the right reasons.

  • Supervise children and vulnerable adults at all times. There is safety in numbers.
  • Wear jelly shoes or other sensible footwear on the beach and in the sea. Like with all seafronts, hidden dangers such as sharp shells and rocks may be hidden under the sand or water.
  • Don’t climb the rocks: Several areas of our seafront have rocks, including our seafront lagoon at Three Shells Beach. Please do not climb them. Not only could you become injured, but you also risk falling injured into the sea, impeding your chances of swimming to safety.
  • Slip, slap, slop, seek, slide: Sunburn is a leading cause of skin cancer. Sunstroke and dehydration are also extremely dangerous. Slip on a T-shirt, slop on some sun cream slap on a hat. Seek out some shade and slide on some sun glasses to protect your eyes too!
  • Observe signs and flags: Heed warning signs and flags: they could save your life!

Travel

Visitors are being urged to consider travelling sustainably to town in order to help reduce traffic levels. Although Network Rail works are affecting the Abellio Greater Anglia line, the C2C line offers a quick route to all of our beaches across the Borough, from Leigh-on-Sea to Thorpe Bay. They also run regular promotions for journeys to Southend.

For those who arrive by car, electronic traffic signage will be actively updated throughout the weekend to help inform visitors of accurate traffic and parking information. The Blue Flag award-winning beaches at Shoebury Common and Thorpe Bay will also be promoted, to encourage visits to these less visited areas.

Litter

The Council’s waste contractor, Veolia, is putting extra staff on standby to quickly respond to any issues of beach littering. Their beach-combing machines will be combing the beaches during the mornings to prepare for visitors while litter pickers will patrol the beaches in the evening to pick up any litter left behind. Staff from the council’s waste team will also be part of a high-visibility presence over the weekend.

Extra beach bins will be made available across the central seafront, with flags helping visitors to locate these on the popular Jubilee Beach.

Full bins should be reported via MySouthend

Several businesses in Southend have now signed up to become water refilling stations, allowing visitors to refill their water bottles for free in their premises. To find your nearest water refilling station, download the Refilll app from  

Missing children and vulnerable adults

Southend Business Improvement District (BID) will be continuing to promote its “Keeping Together” wristband scheme, which aims to reunite lost children and vulnerable adults with their families.

Southend BID has produced the wristbands for children and vulnerable adults to wear, on which parents or carers can write their name and contact number. In the event they get separated or become lost, a phone call to the number can help reunite them with family.

Further information about the scheme – and where to get a wrist band – can be found on the Visit Southend website.