Cultural and leisure venues to close along with libraries in response to Coronavirus

The council’s culture and leisure venues, along with libraries will be closed with immediate effect in response to the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

Shelves full of books inside The Forum Library

The council’s culture and leisure venues, along with libraries will be closed with immediate effect in response to the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

The buildings and services being closed are:

  • Southend Pier and Visitor Information Centre
  • Prittlewell Priory and Visitor Centre
  • Central Museum
  • Focal Point Gallery
  • Beecroft Gallery
  • Southchurch Hall
  • Library services at the Forum and all branches, the Home Library Service, library delivery service (to care homes).

Library books can be renewed online, but any library fines incurred as a result of these closures will be waived.

There is also access to our wide range of e-books,e-magazines and comics.
Students of the University of Essex and South Essex College have their own access to the library facilities at the Forum and this will remain available to support their study at the current time.

Fusion Lifestyle, the borough’s leisure operator, have already closed Belfairs Swim Centre, Chase Sports and Fitness Centre and Shoeburyness Leisure Centre, and will be closing Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre from today. On Monday, HQ Theatres took the decision to close the Cliffs Pavilion and the Palace Theatre for 12 weeks.

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for culture, tourism and business, said: “We have had to make some difficult, but what we believe are the right decisions.

“We are a popular tourism destination with many valuable assets and attractions, but to support the national and local situation we need to close these facilities.

“Southend Pier is a landmark venue and a popular visitor attraction. Unfortunately as it is the longest in the world, the train is needed by some users and the narrow stem also places people in close proximity to each other. The historic Cliff Lift on the seafront is also operated entirely by volunteers and has been closed this week already.

“However, Southend’s parks and open spaces along with the seafront remain very much open and people are actively encouraged to enjoy the fresh air where it is sensible to do so.

“We will review the situation weekly in case the situation and guidance changes, but in order to prevent the increased demands on public health we feel it is necessary to make this decision now.”

“We are looking at how we can redeploy our resource to focus on the most vulnerable in our borough at this time.

“Not having to staff multiple buildings will also conserve resources and cleansing materials for where they are needed the most”

There will also be a freeze on event applications during this period and no event permits will be issued on council land for the duration. Bandstand concerts will be on hold and reconsidered as the season and associated advice unfolds.

Please note that anyone who has purchased tickets for upcoming events at any of the listed venues are advised to contact the Culture and Tourism Team via email.

Published: 18th March 2020

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