A Hawkwell resident has written a marvellous letter which was published in the Echo yesterday. It rips the reputation of Southend Borough Council to shreds. As it is so critical of Southend’s ‘dream’ of absorbing Rochford and Castle Point , it’s worth quoting in full:
Relieved we’re not to be part of Southend
In the past five years Southend Council has sent a former chief executive to Las Vegas and Atlantic City to visit gambling institutions.
It still manages to pay the present chief executive a salary of around ?140,000 – comparable to that of the Prime Minister.
The council can afford to spend ?500,000 refurbishing the entrance to the Civic Centre and a further ?17 000 redecorating the chief executive’s office.
It has perhaps a million pounds or more available to meet the spiralling costs of the road-widening scheme at Priory Crescent and still more money for the refurbishment of paved areas in the High Street.
The council has also budgeted ?30,000 for consultants to influence Parliament to establish another gambling syndicate in Southend and allowed as much as ?800 a day to pay temporary heads of department.
Hundreds of thousands are also available to pay consultants for reports on developments at the end of the pier and the redevelopment of Marine Parade, while ?50,000 went to Renaissance Southend and to other organisations for reports on schemes that hardly ever reach fruition.
At the same time, over the past five years, Southend Council has announced it cannot afford to meet the social care needs of former residents of Berland House and clients of Maybrook Day Centre.
It has stopped people with special needs using the Avro Training Centre if they live outside the borough.
It can no longer afford to provide a cleaner, safer and rat-proof refuse collection service comparable to that available in neighbouring areas more than 20 years ago, nor can it maintain existing staffing levels for school crossing patrols to keep its children safe.
It also seems the council can no longer afford to maintain parks and open spaces to previous standards, or make them safe from vandalism at night.
The residents of Castle Point and Rochford must be very relieved Southend Council has abandoned its application to absorb their local authorities.
Imagine what could happen if Southend Council took control of Castle Point and Rochford’s finances, too.