£46m new investment proposed for the council’s capital programme over the next five years.
Further investment in Southend Pier, refurbishing our coastal defences, upgrading fire safety systems, updating existing council-owned properties and a further £10m investment into the soon-to-be city’s roads and pavements all form part of an additional £46m investment proposed for the council’s capital programme over the next five years (Cabinet item 9, 13 January).
The ambitious proposals would see increased investment across several areas as it makes the transition into a city, with the council looking to agree a budget which focusses on continued recovery from the pandemic, whilst also looking to build on recent investments across the Borough.
It is proposed to add £10m to the road and pavement improvement budget for 2026/27, building on the £10m per year already planned up to March 2026, bringing the total level of investment to £60m over six years.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for highways, asset management and inward investment, said: “Over the past 12 months we have seen the major improvements in our roads and pavements thanks to the incredible investment we have made. A further £10m in 2026/27 will allow us to continue this major programme into the future and continue to make a huge difference to the Borough.
“If we can invest the full amount of £10m each year for the next five years, I am absolutely certain our residents will continue to see progress and the roads and pavements in the best condition they have been for a generation. This is all about making our roads and pavements accessible for our residents, and we need to continue to invest to make that a reality.”
£2.5m could be added to the budget for pier investment, as the iconic landmark continues to be maintained and improved, with a more year-round visitor offering now in place. The proposed £2.5m would be added to the almost £5m budget already agreed as part of the approved capital investment programme.
As previously announced, the Council has also been successful in its bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for visitor economy improvements, focussed on Leigh Port, the Cliffs Pavilion and wider seafront and town centre safety measures. The £19.9m external funding secured from the Government will be match funded by £4.1m from the council’s capital investment programme, with works set to be completed by March 2024.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “As we make this transition from a Borough to a city, it is essential we do not stand still. Recent investments in the pier have seen the refurbishment of the Royal Pavilion into a sit-down restaurant and bar, the installation of the brand new, eco-friendly electric pier trains, with even more exciting additions set for the next few years.
“This iconic landmark must be at the forefront of our thinking when considering how we want to promote our place as a tourist destination, and by adding this extra funding, we have the opportunity to continue to improve the year-round offering and ensure this jewel in our crown continues to be maintained to a high standard.
“The Levelling Up funding we have successfully secured will also go a long way in helping us to further invest in and drive economic recovery, maintain support for vital facilities and services at Leigh Port and the Cliffs Pavilion, and encourage further increases in visitors to the area. We have a fantastic visitor offer across the whole Borough, and with further investment we can solidify our position as a soon-to-be city where people want to live, work and visit.”
Plans also include £335,000 to enhance East Beach car park by widening the existing entrances and exits, install a height barrier and vehicle flow plates. The footway entrance would be improved to include street lighting and improved access for pedestrians and cyclists. The car parking area would be future proofed to ensure that electric vehicle charging can be accommodated. A phase two is also set to follow.
There are also plans for £2.5m to refurbish the Borough’s coastal defences over the next five years, £1.5m to continue the updating and improvement of existing council-owned buildings, and an additional £1.5m added to the fire safety works programme, which will see necessary fire safety and compliance works in council-owned properties.
Cllr Paul Collins, cabinet member for corporate services and performance delivery, said: “This is an ambitious and exciting capital budget, and one we feel will bring a multitude of benefits to our residents for the next five years. It has been carefully thought out and will complement the ongoing improvement and regeneration projects across the Borough. This budget will allow us to continue providing good facilities for our residents, whilst also being forward-thinking and considering areas that need additional funding to help push us on as a city.
“I look forward to discussing this proposal in full alongside my cabinet colleagues and hope to bring forward this ambitious investment for our residents.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 13 January, the council’s three scrutiny committees at the start of February, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at Full Council on Thursday 24 February.