Leader's blog - 2 September 2022

The leader discusses the rising cost of living, reporting suspected sewage on the seafront and the return to school in this week’s blog.

Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council sat in a chair with our coat of arms behind him.

There’s no doubt it’s been a long hot summer and one of our busiest on record in terms of visitor numbers. It’s understandable that people would want to visit our wonderful City when you look at the amazing artistic and cultural events coming up in the next week.

The Leigh Art Trail is entering it’s 25th year and will be displaying the creative talents of our local artists. The Southend City Jam also takes place this weekend from today, Friday 2 September, through to Sunday, as parts of the City will be transformed with incredible artwork from some of the country’s and world’s best artists. Both events really will be fantastic and I encourage you to come and see the artistry on display.

The Ironworks too, is an exciting development for the High Street as a new cultural and arts centre for the City, it will bring more exciting opportunities into the City Centre. I look forward to seeing that open in the autumn.

One of the recurring themes over the summer months has been reports of suspected sewage and the safety of the water along our seafront. I wanted to take the opportunity to outline the council’s responsibilities; we provide information to the public about bathing water quality and alert people if there is a risk to bathers, which we do through several media channels and by placing notices at various locations along the seafront.

Any member of the public who sees suspected sewage going into the water through a pipe or outlet, should report the issue directly to Anglian Water’s 24-hour hotline on 03457 145 145, or the Environment Agency’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

As schoolchildren head back to the classroom, I want to say well done on those who received exam results this summer and good luck to those starting new chapters, whether it be a new course, a new year or even a new school.

I find that the start of the new academic year can create a renewed sense of motivation, and that is the case at the council as we look forward to the meetings, priorities and objectives we wish to set and achieve in the coming months.

One of the biggest challenges we are due to face, much like every single person living in the UK right now, is that of the rising cost of living. There has been a lot of discussion in the national press, at local meetings and its clearly at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. The cost of living crisis and rises to inflation, energy and fuel costs are also affecting the council and it is very much in the forefront of our minds too.

Like everyone else, the council will have some difficult financial decisions to make in the coming months, as we try and help our residents tackle the issues they’re facing and we set a balanced budget for 2023/24 and beyond. As leader of Southend Council I promise we will do what we can to support our residents and ensure we are financially sustainable into the future.

But with reduced funding, increased demand and costs, this is going to be tough, but we will clearly need to prioritise and ensure that our work and services are targeted and supporting those who need our help the most.

Have a nice weekend.

Published: 2nd September 2022

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