Western Esplanade will be temporarily widened for pedestrians and cyclists from Saturday 16 May, in response to national changes to lockdown, and to allow local people to safely enjoy the seafront.
The widened promenade will be created from Chalkwell to the Pier, and will be made possible by a contraflow system which will still allow cars to travel in both directions, but reduce lane width by keeping parking bays along Western Esplanade suspended.
Seafront car parks previously closed will also reopen from Saturday 16th May 2020 as part of a balanced approach that has been decided on after considering a number of practical options and measures.
Seafront parking bays along City Beach, and all those along Western Esplanade will remain suspended to enable the contraflow.
Seafront parking bays from Belton Way to Shoebury continue to be suspended.
As a result of this change, parking enforcement across the Borough will step up from Monday 18 May, including in pay and display areas and where seasonal parking restrictions are in place.
However, one-hour restrictions in residential areas will not be enforced until Monday 1 June and enforcement of resident or business permits will not take place for four weeks, although expired permits must continue to be displayed. The council are also looking at providing free parking for NHS and key workers from week commencing 18th May 2020.
Members of the public are asked to self-enforce social distancing whilst queueing for and using any public or private facilities, and use MOBON, the parking app which allow cashless and contact free payment for parking.
Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, says: “Following the Government announcement on Sunday, we have considered a number of options and measures and decided quickly on what we feel is a balanced approach to protecting local people and businesses, but also respecting the new national instructions.
“The national announcement stated that people are now able to drive to exercise and so we need to open our car parks again, but we also need to ensure people can keep two metres apart, and the contraflow will help achieve that.
“I will say that we are still asking people who do not live locally not to visit Southend-on-Sea and allow local people to have a safe environment and open spaces where they can exercise, enjoy the fresh air, but also keep apart from others outside of their household.
“As ever we will keep all these measures under careful review to ensure we can keep local people safe and well.”
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety, says: “Physical distancing and ensuring people stay safe and well by staying apart is now a fact of life.
“These measures will help people do that, but we urge everyone across Southend-on-Sea to self-enforce and take individual personal responsibility to keep their distance from those outside their households at this time.”
In addition, Belfairs Golf course will open later this month, and household waste recycling centres across Essex will open from Monday 18 May (see separate release).
Southend Pier is a ticketed attraction and will not be able to re-open until at least 4 July under the Government’s recovery plan. Maintaining social distancing on the pier train and walkway is a challenge, and so the council will continue to consider and review national guidance as and when it is published by the Government before re-opening this attraction.
Following a temporary relaxation, we will all once again need to enforce the dog control order in place for beaches. Please be aware that if you take a dog, other than a guide dog, onto any beach until 1 October you could be fined.