Reacting to the news that the R4U run Uttlesford District Council has delayed the publication of the first draft of the new Local Plan by six months, Cllr Melvin Caton , Leader of the Lib Dem and Green Alliance Group on the council said "The Local Plan timetable has always been very ambitious as it sought to meet government deadlines for completion by the end of 2023. Despite earlier promises from the R4U administration in recent months, when difficult decision had to be faced the timetable has certainly slipped.
Following an incredibly successful launch in 2022, Southend LuminoCity is set to return next year and will be brightening up February half term from 16-18 February 2023.
Still in the early planning stages, Southend-on-Sea City Council and Southend Tourism Partnership are working together to bring back the hugely successful light festival, which saw over 200,000 visitors attend.
For Southend LuminoCity 2023, Southend Tourism Partnership are looking to work with local emerging light artists to produce new, unique installations that will wow festivalgoers and showcase our City's creative talent. Artists will be asked to submit proposals for bold and innovative designs to be produced to compliment the City's architecture and infrastructure. Further details on this call for artists will be announced in the coming weeks.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture and tourism, said: "I am thrilled to announce the return of Southend LuminoCity. Despite the worst storm to hit Southend in thirty years, this year's festival was fantastic and was a much-needed boost to the City's economy.
"We are keen to showcase the incredible artistic talent we have locally, and I'm looking forward to seeing the High Street alive with installations and happy families enjoying an evening out."
Jacqui Dallimore, chair of the Southend Tourism Partnership, said: "Southend LuminoCity brought thousands of visitors to our City and we can't wait to replicate the success next year. Working with local artists to design an installation will show Southend's flourishing creative talent whilst instilling a sense of civic pride."
Further information regarding the festival, including details of the 2023 installations, sponsorship packages and artist call out will be released soon via www.southendluminocity.co.uk
We are encouraging residents and visitors to nominate their favourite Southend parks as part of a campaign to find the UK's favourite parks.
We have an abundance of parks and open spaces and last year saw the announcement that seven Southend parks held Green Flag status which recognises well-maintained parks and green spaces across the country which are available to residents and visitors throughout the year.
Priory Park offers scenic walkways and a picturesque pond and is home to Southend's historic bandstand where local musicians and bands play every weekend throughout the summer. Priory Park also boasts four bowling greens, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor table tennis tables, a green gym, formal gardens and the stunning Pritlewell Priory, a 12th century Clunaic Monastery.
Chalkwell Park features beautiful ornamental gardens, colourful bedding displays, an environment garden, a courtyard-style sun garden and a rose garden. Located in the gardens is Chalkwell Hall, a Grade 2 listed building and home to the arts organisation, Metal.
Belfairs Park includes woodland gardens and the Hadleigh Great Wood nature reserve, a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) that supports a great diversity of plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals such as the rare heath fritillary butterfly and dormice. Also located at Belfairs Park is the Nature Discovery Centre run in partnership with the Essex Wildlife Trust.
Shoebury Park stretches across 20 acres and is managed to encourage nature with meadows, a beautiful lake, and many trees. It also features a wide range of facilities, including a tennis court, football pitch, basketball court, cricket pitch and a bowling green.
Southchurch Park includes the model boating lake, formal gardens and a wide range of sports pitches. It is also close to Southchurch Hall Gardens which is home to Southend Museums Southchurch Hall, a Grade 1 listed building dating back to medieval times. More recently the Gardens have become locally known as the 'Duck Park', due to the varied species of ducks and geese inhabiting the ponds. If you're lucky you might even spot a terrapin too!
Leigh Library gardens is nestled behind the stunning Leigh Library building. It's a surprising green oasis in the hustle and bustle of Leigh High Street. It's home to a children's play area and lots of benches and picnic spots and even a hidden sunken slide!
Cllr Carole Mulroney, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, culture and tourism, said: "I am so proud of our parks and open spaces, and I truly believe Southend deserves to be represented on the list of the UK's favourite parks. Our parks have always been admired by those who use them, and more people than ever are visiting these spaces for exercise, meet-ups, fresh air, and to relax.
"Our parks have acted as a refuge for so many of us over the past few years and our parks and gardens team do such a terrific job to maintain them. I urge everyone to take a moment to vote for their favourite Southend parks to ensure they are in the running to be named amongst the UK's favourites. I have submitted my nomination and it took me less than 10 minutes to do. Let's raise the profile of our fantastic City parks!"
How does it work?
Nominations are now open and will close at noon on Tuesday 5 July, so you don't have long to make sure your favourite park is in the running!
All eligible nominations then progress to a public vote. Voting will open at the beginning of July and run for six weeks. At close of voting the parks with the most votes in each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be named National Favourites and the overall winner the UK's Favourite Park 2022. Any park placing within the top 20% of nominations will receive recognition as a Local Favourite.
For more information and to submit your nomination, visit the Fields in Trust website.
For more information about all of Southend's parks and open spaces see the Visit Southend website.
Investment in decent homes continues as the Council strives for everyone in Southend-on-Sea to have "a good quality, sustainable home that meets their needs". Part of the annual report to be discussed at Cabinet (Tuesday 14 June) highlights how £12m has been spent on improving, building or buying additional council homes in 2021/22.
Strong financial management by the council is set to deliver a predicted underspend for 2021/22, with £6m also being added into reserves.
This will help to prepare for a financially challenging year for the council and local community.
The council's 2021/22 finances will be discussed by the cabinet next week (Item 4, Cabinet, 14 June), along with the unprecedented challenges that the council and residents are facing, with the impacts of inflation and rising energy and fuel costs already starting to have a local impact. This sound financial management is allowing the council to put a further £2m towards the cost of living crisis in 2022/23 - £1m to provide additional support for our most vulnerable residents on top of what is already available through Government and council schemes such as the essential living fund, plus £1m to help the council with additional inflationary pressures that it will face this year.
Cllr Paul Collins, cabinet member for asset management and inward investment said: "Despite huge challenges over the last two years, both nationally and locally, the council has managed its finances sensibly and prudently, and I am pleased that we can report a small underspend for 2021/22, together with topping up our reserves position. Considering the financial difficulties all local councils face, this is no mean feat and is critical to providing a foundation to tackle the unprecedented inflationary pressures that the council and residents are already experiencing and ensuring that the council remains financially sustainable in the future. We face some hard times and difficult choices ahead with inflation currently rising towards 10% and energy and fuel rises affecting local residents, businesses and the council too. Thanks to our sound management, we have been able to put aside £2m more to help with cost of living pressures, supporting our most vulnerable residents and the inflationary challenges we face as a council too."
The report also highlights the scale of the pandemic response administered by the council, with huge increases in the volume of applications for support being submitted from local businesses and residents in the last two years, a rise of over 400%.
Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council, says: "This report highlights the strong financial management and performance of the council throughout the pandemic where officers have had to administer 72,000 extra applications for support over the last two years which has often involved checking eligibility and interpreting complex and changing guidance, whilst trying to keep residents safe and supported. I want to thank them all for that hard work that has helped to support local businesses and the local community."
Tenants in Chelmsford can feel assured that the council will challenge unfair or unsafe treatment by landlords, after it won a conviction in the courts.
Chelmsford City Council took Susan Wu to court for illegal eviction and harassment.
She had unlawfully evicted a family of five from their home in Chelmsford. The locks to the property were changed without the tenants' knowledge that this would happen. They were not given a copy of the new keys, until the council intervened. The keys were then given back to them in the middle of the night.
Chelmsford Smart Hangar Scheme (CSHS) was launched earlier this month to help cyclists to safely store their bikes in Chelmsford's city centre. Currently, there are three 'bike hangars' that can hold up to six bikes. They are located in:
Can Bridge Way (by Meadows Surface car park)
Market Road (by the public toilets)
Market Square (on the corner of Cornhill and Bellmead)
The bike hangars cost £1 per hour or £3 for a full day.
The Lib Dem and Green Alliance councillors on Uttlesford District Council did not support the decision of the R4U led council last Wednesday to make an offer to Stansted Airport Lid (STAL) of £1.4m to cover the Airport's costs incurred at the Planning Appeal in March last year.
Green councillor Vere Isham (Takeley) told the meeting "As we watched the Appeal process play out, as we feared, our legal Counsel did not even attempt to defend the Planning Committee decision to refuse STAL permission to expand to 43mppa. The Inspectors panel dismissed the Council's "shrewd" alternative Condition 15 as unlawful. This resulted directly in an award by the Inspectors for costs against our Council because of its recklessness and unreasonableness.
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