Thursday, 11 October 2018

Taking conservation seriously

There are many conservation areas in Southend-on-Sea, five in Milton ward alone. We have a rich array of heritage assets, evident in the fact the borough ranks seventh in the heritage assets index out of 325 local authorities.

We get warm words from the ruling administration locally as regards to conservation, but this is not matched by action. Their commitment is best illustrated by missed working party meetings, and at one point over a year when the Conservation Working Party did not meet.

I do not doubt that many in the Council (both members and officers) care deeply that our heritage assets are preserved and enhanced, but I do not get a sense of any urgency in this. A rather limp approach to conservation threatens what we have.

The Conservative administration is still intent, for example, on building a monstrous museum in the cliffs at Westcliff-on-Sea not only spoiling a heritage asset, but also spoiling a beautiful green space. So much for doing something for the environment. (I still favour putting the museum in the High Street, maybe in the old BHS building).

I think we should be more gungho in our defence of the heritage assets that we have inherited. These assets (buildings, parks, etc) should not just have all the protection we can provide, we should also be promoting the town in this respect. Places like Bath and Brighton used their inheritance to sell the attractions of their towns.

We should also push to attract funding, we are a long way from getting anywhere the amount of money that other local authorities get.

Looking after our heritage does not mean ‘no change’. It does mean retaining the good, and ensuring all new developments are designed sympathetically as regards to its neighbours.

Let’s keep Southend beautiful, and let’s ensure that generations to come are not robbed by poor decisions taken today.

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