Leader's Blog - 13 January 2023

This week the leader of the council, Cllr Stephen George, discusses the tough choices cabinet have had to make as part of the budget announcements and looks forward to the next big event in the City.

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

No doubt you will have seen the media coverage of the draft budget. Of course we were expecting some criticism, especially around the parking elements, however I hope that the majority of residents can appreciate the incredibly tough financial situation the council is in. The money raised by the parking scheme will be ploughed straight back into the highway maintenance programme, freeing up other cash to be spent in areas important to our residents, especially the most vulnerable residents.

We are all aware of the cost-of-living crisis, and in Southend we are doing all we can to help and support our residents as we navigate this national issue as a local community. You can find help and guidance on our cost of living section. But this includes using the rise in council tax by 4.99%, agreed by cabinet last night, and the 10% rise in the majority of charges for council services, in line with inflation, to fund the essential work the council does within adult and children’s social care to make sure residents are safe and well.

I’m sure most of us, when push comes to shove, would choose paying a little extra for parking if it means helping our neighbours.

You can read an overview of the budget in the main press release which outlines the main proposals.

Following on from the budget but keeping with the democratic process, we have also started to alert people to the national change in approach to voting which requires you to provide photo ID when you go to the polls. Although the elections are not until May, we want to make sure everyone has enough notice to check their ID and get a council ID if they need one. You can read more about it in our press release.

But before the elections we have something even more exciting to look forward to with the return of LuminoCity. It was announced this week, that one of the new installations sponsored by Southend City BID, is also one of the biggest in the festival and it looks incredible from the photos. Called ‘Pulse’ the 45-metre long, LED tube is set to completely wow visitors. The event was a huge success last year and I know many people are looking forward to its return on Thursday 16 February until Saturday 18 February. I’m sure I’ll be mentioning it again before the event but please put the date in your diary and let’s have a fantastic turnout for this iconic event.

Before I sign off, Monday 16 January is traditionally known as blue Monday, labelled by the media in layman’s terms as ‘the most depressing day of the year’. To counteract the negativity, The Samaritans have launched Brew Monday, encouraging people to reach out for a cuppa and a chat with their friends, colleagues and loved ones this Monday. You can read more about it on the Samaritans website but I urge you, if you’re struggling, no matter how difficult it is, find a way of letting someone know. Support is out there and maybe the best first step is offering to put to the kettle on.

Have a great weekend.

Published: 13th January 2023

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