Wednesday 1 February 2017

Southend Pier

The current Conservative-UKIP coalition that runs Southend-on-Sea is promising large sums of money, in their budget proposals, for the pier.

I think that the pier is an important part of Southend-on-Sea and in many ways defines an image of the town. It should be preserved, nay enhanced, and money to be spent on it is welcomed by me.

There have been numerous false starts as regards to repairing and enhancing the world's longest pier. It is a somewhat sorry tale in reality. An iconic structure that has not been prioritised in all the years that I can remember.

I can vividly recall the 1976 pier fire and the damage it wrought. The pier head still awaits a return to former glories. It is clear that much time and money has been wasted over the decades, and so I hope that this time it will be money well spent.

Of course, in straightened financial times there is going to be a tug-of-war between competing priorities. Should we, for instance, be spending money on the pier when the social care budget is being squeezed? It is a tough call. However, I think that not only is this icon deserving in its own right, it is a magnet - this money should be an investment that is repaid in visitor numbers to the structure, and the town that houses it. Money into the local economy is important to all of us.

Whilst welcoming money for the pier I will also be resisting cuts that I think will diminish the services that the council provide. Whilst not blind to the realities of the continuing austerity agenda of the Government, and that savings are having to be made, I do not believe that money spent in one place necessarily means money withdrawn from other places. This is not about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

There is a real threat to all that the Council provides, and difficult choices will have to be made. I query the £580,00 being spent to celebrate 125 years of being a borough, an extravagance that should be ditched.

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