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Full Council's finale before the May 4th Elections

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

The Council Meeting 02.03.23

Full Council discussed the eviction of Jazz UK from their Beecroft home, reducing grass-cutting to once per year, the 'Made from this Land' art project located outside a resident's house, a Soutchurch Park safety rail and 85000 trucks loads of soil for the Bellway development in Shoebury.

Jazz UK

I cannot claim to be an authority on jazz, regardless, what a privilege it is that Southend is the home of Jazz UK. It was, therefore, alarming that the council will be leaving them without a home as they are being forced to leave the Beecroft.

An opposition councillor said that the Portfolio holder had been sent an email from the trustees of Jazz UK regarding an offer of £5K for an undisclosed reason. The Mayor quickly shut this down and asked for the question to be emailed. It all felt a touch odd. 2000 signatures have been taken for a petition against this (Petition · Save The Jazz Centre UK ·, and let's hope the council change their minds.

Made from this Land Art Project

Art project called ‘made from this land’ - by emma Edmonson has caused great controversy. The art itself is a homage to the History of brickfields:

Emma Edmondson will be exploring the untold history of local brickfields to create a permanent artwork formed of the clay of Southchurch. Made from this Land sets out to change residents’ covenants, so that bricks, tiles, or the like, can be produced from their land.

Weaving history into the now creates Southend’s story and so I wholeheartedly support the concept.

But it is art and this comes with innate problems because the beholder’s eye is the judge. And judging art is not the problem, that is one of its many purposes.

In this case, councillors drew attention to its shape resembling male genitalia. This wasn’t a particular problem, it was just the fact that it would be located outside a 90 year old resident’s home. In fact, one councillor pointed out the stress of the situation had caused her to have a stroke.

No one can possibly know if that is true, but from a personal standpoint, if I did not like a piece of art and it was due to be constructed outside my property, I would not be happy. I cannot believe that there are too many people that, in the principle that art is art, would then be content with a piece of art they did not like (for whatever reason) outside their home. I may be wrong.

What’s worse in this situation is that it was originally going to be on the other side of the seafront, which would have caused no problems. For reasons, it was then changed.

I have seen members from the current administration shape the story like the opposition are anti-art. I can tell that this debate has nothing to with that and it is disappointing to see first-hand how even local politicians can stoop to this level of dishonesty. Who is anti-art. Is there anyone on the planet is against art in itself? Probably, but my guess is not these councillors.

The debate is not about art in general, it is about this piece of art in this particular location, and it is wrong that this is happening. Southend is big enough to amply house art without causing problems for residents. The same Thorpe councillor that was adamant that it should not go outside the lady’s property then suggested putting it outside the Roslin Hotel. It was a contradictory throw-away comment, but didn’t aid the argument.

The Kursaal councillor enjoyed some bragging rights as he suggested he was the only one who had actually met the artist. Odd brag because the artist wasn’t the one with the problem. This councillor also pushed the anti-art sentiment, yet was full of mockery about the Confelicity emblem which was designed by a Southend artist.

I think unintentionally, the worst comment of the day was “Perhaps she will get used to it”. Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Grassland management policy

The Council will reduce cutting grass to once a year. They say it is not to save, but it will save £100K. The grass verges on the streets seem to be safe according to what is being said. It is only the motorways and main roads that will be left to grow out. The Council have stated that will cut the front parts to give the appearance of keeping things trim. This can be taken two ways, the opposition chose to see it as hiding what’s going on. Personally, as long as the streets look fine and the motorways are not full of litter, as no one is attending to the area, this is not a problem. They have also mentioned the boulevards will be left. I am against this as one strip of land will make nearly make a difference and simply look poor. Civic pride is so important and this does not promote it.

I do wish the administration would stop pointing to climate change and biodiversity as the reasons though. It may be a benefit, but money is clearly the driver so just say it.

As one councillor pointed out, the length of grass doesn’t have an effect on Co2 (not sure this is true).

An opposition motion was passed to refer to Cabinet to spend a portion of the £1.5m climate change money to plant wild flower seeds on the Boulevard.

Southchurch Park Safety Rail

A safety rail around Southchurch Park has been the source of debate as the council originally felt it necessary after a risk assessment that only half the lake required a safety rail. Not entirely sure how the same lake can have more or less of a risk just because they are separated by a bridge, but that is what has happened. Common sense seems to have prevailed and money has been found for the whole rail to be installed.

Bellway Development and the 85000 truck movements

Finally, to the Bellway development in Shoebury. The Development Control Committee had already passed this project, so there is no going back (or so we are told). However, there is the small issue of 85000 truck movements of soil over 2 and a half years! This is 120 movements per day 5 and a half days per week.

Fortunately for me, I do not live on the route these HGVs are taking, but for those that are, this is going to be a very serious problem in noise and air pollution and traffic congestion. The opposition brought up issues regarding the integrity of the sewage line.

A motion by the opposition to move the soil by barge was agreed to refer to Cabinet.

It is highly doubtful this will go through because previous meetings have already shot this idea down. But - who knows? Nothing will happen now as the elections have almost begun.

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