For most residents in Southend-on-Sea there is just the one level of local government, and some (if not most) may see this as a cause to celebrate.
This is not true for everyone though, as Leigh residents enjoy being covered by a Town Council.
Surrounding local authorities also have Town and Parish Councils; Rochford is entirely covered, compared to half of Castle Point. Of course, being in Essex residents in these authorities therefore have three tiers of local government.
Town Councils provide a voice for a community that may otherwise be lost or ignored. My home town of Westcliff-on-Sea, arguably the hub of the borough, has no such voice and I think it is the poorer for it.
This extra layer of democracy brings local government closer to its residents, avoiding the feeling of remoteness and detachment that can prevail when an area, which like Westcliff, has its distinct identity.
Westcliff-on-Sea can feel neglected at times, as whilst much of it is wonderful (and not only do I currently live there, I was also born there too), without doubt there are parts which could do with some TLC. This is not going to happen (well, at least has not happened so far) when it looks to the Borough Council to take action – it needs local voices who both know and cherish the area, and are determined to champion it too.
It is about time that Westcliff-on-Sea had its own Town Council. This idea has been mooted before, including by me, and I again call for an investigation into the feasibility of such a proposal.
Westcliff needs representation!