Several priority projects could be added to the council’s capital investment programme - subject to viable business cases coming forward in the future.
The projects will be discussed by the council's cabinet as part of budget setting for 2024/25 (Cabinet, item 7, Thursday 11 January).
Given the financial climate, the council's capital investment programme has recently been reduced in size following a series of challenge sessions led by the Leader of the Council and attended by other group leaders. As part of budget setting for next year, only £7m of new investment is proposed for essential software licensing and new IT equipment over the next five years. However, several priority schemes could also be added to the main programme in the future subject to viable business cases being approved, including:
- £2.5m of further funding to fix potholes up to March 2029.
- £1.5m for projects that reduce the impact of climate change
- Further investment to deal with RAAC within the Dixon Studio, in addition to £40,000 already identified
- £1.4m for rolling coastal defence works
- £1.5m for fire improvement works to meet regulations across council buildings
- £500,000 for cliff stabilisation works
- £250,000 to replace damaged street lighting columns up to March 2029
The main capital programme for approval for 2024/25 to 2028/29 will see £117m invested in important projects across the city over the next five years and includes:
- £6.7m for Southend Pier to continue the planned approach to maintenance, for phase 2 of the Prince George Extension and for refurbishment works to the timber outer pier head.
- £0.8m for further investment at Airport Business Park Southend
- £13.0m for pavement and roads resurfacing, plus £2.3m for repairing potholes
- £22.1m of Government Levelling Up funding for Cliffs Pavilion, Leigh Port and Marine Parade projects
- £9.9m to provide much needed housing for those on the Homeseeker's Register
- £19.1m to 2026/27 to maintain our housing stock to decency levels, invest in health and safety and common area improvement works and for improvements and structural works at the Balmoral Estate
- £6.4M for Disabled Facilities Grants to provide grants to disabled people make adaptions to their homes to make them easier to use.
Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the council said: “The financial challenge for local councils across the country is well known, but it is important that we still have a capital investment programme that is realistic, deliverable and focussed on key projects.
“Capital challenge sessions held earlier this year have helped this process hugely, and I believe that we now have an ambitious capital programme for the city over the next five years that will see major investment in several important projects, but is also deliverable and realistic, and protects the council financially, with many projects moved to requiring viable business cases and other priority investment projects ready to move into the main programme as required.
“The council also has a good track record of making successful funding bids too and this programme also includes £22.1m of Government Levelling Up funding that will complement the ongoing improvement and regeneration projects across the city.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council's cabinet on Thursday 11 January and the council's Policy and Resources scrutiny committee on Thursday 1 February. Any changes to the draft budget will then be considered by cabinet on Tuesday 13 February, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at full council on Thursday 22 February.