Council leader Cllr Tony Cox talks about Remembrance weekend and an important consultation on how you vote for your council.
Firstly, I just wanted to reflect on another moving Remembrance weekend that was suitably honoured in our City. The national two-minute silence was well attended and well observed on Saturday at the top of the High Street, and the military parade on Sunday was another poignant event to pay tribute to the fallen, who gave their today, for our tomorrow.
This week we also launched a public consultation into the election cycle for councillors. We would like your views on whether to vote for councillors in thirds or whether all councillors should be elected at the same time every four years, known as all-out elections.
If you go to the survey there are arguments for both systems and I would really like to encourage you to have your say. The election cycle is an important part of our local democracy and we want to know what our residents think before making a decision.
Looking ahead to next week, on Monday (20 November) the council's cabinet will discuss the period six budget report for 2023/24. This sets out where we are at the halfway point of this financial year. I am pleased to say that the report shows how the council's predicted overspend has reduced from £14m down to £10.7m.
This is good news but we still have a long way to go, and work continues to dive deep into budgets to see where costs can be further reduced or services delivered differently to make them more cost-efficient wherever possible.
We always said everything was on the table and there are some tough decisions ahead. We're still very much at the beginning of that journey but it's good to know we're heading in the right direction.
You may have also seen some local businesses are starting to get festive in the run-up to December. The council has launched its best Festive Business competition and there are some amazing prizes on offer this year for first, second and third place, but also for a prize draw for everyone who takes part and vote. To get involved, head across to the Business-on-Sea Facebook page and vote for your favourite festive photo. It's a great opportunity to support our local economy.
And talking of the festive season, I am also pleased that we will continue free festive parking in council owned off-street car parks on Sundays in December - this year it will run for five instead of the three last year.
We're also expecting big crowds on Saturday for the Christmas light switch-on, organised by Southend BID. The High Street will become a festive wonderland with an artisan market, visits to Father Christmas and BBC Essex on hand to showcase a host of local talent, with the light switch-on taking place at 6pm, ahead of the final free fireworks show on the seafront at 7.30pm.
I hope to see you there - enjoy!
Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the council