“Happy Birthday Southend-on-Sea”

 

125 years since the incorporation of the Southend-on-Sea Borough

Wednesday 5th April 2017

 

Plans for a series of special events to mark 125 years since the incorporation of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea are gathering pace.

The 125th anniversary begins with the iconic Poppies sculpture, Wave at Barge Pier in Shoeburyness from 12 April until 25 June. Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. This breath-taking sculpture is being exhibited across the UK, along with Weeping Window, by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

This will be followed by a wide range of community events throughout the summer and culminate on the pier on 24 September with ‘Silk River”: a creative regional event linking the Thames Estuary with the Hooghly River in Kolkata.

 

As part of the celebrations, individuals and local arts, heritage or sports groups are being invited to bid for grants to put on local events to mark the anniversary. Events confirmed to date include an “Active Life” Pier Festival on Friday 28 April and a Southend-on-Sea Film Festival between 14 May and 3 June 2017.

 

Priory Park is also celebrating an anniversary this year with 2017 marking 100 years since it was gifted to the town. As part of the celebrations the Priory Park gates will be receiving a facelift and there will be a Flower Festival in the park between 21 August and 1 September.

 

To be eligible for a grant, organisations are being asked to seek matched funding. Training and support is being provided by the Council to help them build capacity for fundraising and to find sources of matched funding. If you are interested in applying for a grant go to southend.gov.uk/125years for an online application form.

 

A special ‘125th logo’ has been developed to raise awareness across the Borough of the anniversary and to highlight events being organized as part of the celebrations. Local organisations and businesses are invited to use this logo over the summer period.

 

Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “I am delighted about the range of events we have planned to celebrate the 125th year of the incorporation of the Borough. 

 

Around 1.5 million tourists visit Southend-on-Sea each year to attend the range of cultural activities we put on. Research tells us that for every £1 we invest in cultural activities roughly £6 is returned to our economy. We believe that the 125th anniversary is a great opportunity to showcase what makes Southend-on-Sea a great place to live and visit and to attract increased visitors into the area. I urge everyone to get involved, invite friends to visit and enjoy the celebrations.” 

 

To follow activities being organised as part of the 125th year visit:

www.southend.gov.uk/125years or on twitter #southend125.

EasyJet celebrates five years at London Southend 

 

easyJet, Europe’s leading airline, today (4 April 2017) celebrated its fifth anniversary at London Southend Airport. 

Since its launch at London Southend in April 2012, easyJet has flown more than four million passengers on over 32,000 flights. It now flies to 15 city and holiday destinations across Europe, with the most popular being Amsterdam, Alicante, Faro and Malaga. 

To mark the anniversary two local children, who are also celebrating their fifth birthdays this year, were invited to dress up as easyJet pilots and have a tour of an easyJet aircraft and cockpit. Darcy Page and Cooper Page Martin are cousins from Rochford and the grandchildren of easyJet crew member Angela Page. 

Also, joining the celebrations was James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East. 

Neil Slaven, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, commented "We’re delighted to be celebrating out fifth year at London Southend Airport. Since we launched our first flight from Southend to Belfast five years ago, we’ve flown over four million passengers and have almost doubled the amount of destinations we now operate from the airport. We’ve made travelling easy for the people of Southend and the surrounding areas across Essex and East London with affordable flights to 15 destinations across Europe. 

“We’re fully committed to London Southend Airport and have demonstrated this by investing heavily in new destinations. We’re keen to continue adding more varied routes to our schedule. Ultimately our long-term aim at London Southend Airport is simple; to continue to provide a fantastic passenger experience with low fares whilst opening up new markets to both our leisure and business travellers." 

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation (which owns London Southend Airport) says “It has been an excellent five years working in partnership with easyJet, providing a fantastic mix of both leisure and business destinations to passengers from Essex and the South East. With superb access, including our own station with trains to and from London in 45 minutes and unique customer service, it's no surprise that more and more people are choosing London Southend. Our ambition is to make London Southend the capital’s next big airport and that is very much aligned with easyJet’s plans to expand and grow, so we are all very much looking forward to the next successful five years of our partnership.” 

James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, added "I was pleased to be able to come and celebrate easyJet's 5th anniversary at the airport today. The expansion of the airport is the best thing to have happened locally in many years. I have always been a firm supporter of the airport and I am delighted that it is going from strength to strength. I am looking forward to watching London Southend continue to grow and I'm excited to see additional destinations being in operation. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the team, both past and present, for ensuring we have the best airport in the UK on our doorstep." 

To celebrate the milestone further, easyJet rewarded one lucky traveller with a pair of return flights. 

 
 

Plans to extend Pier entrance moving forwards

Thursday 6th April 2017

 

Plans to extend the Pier entrance are moving forwards, after members of the Development Control Committee yesterday agreed to delegate approval of the plans to council officers, subject to the expiry of the consultation period on 14th April.

 

The extension will offer a much more attractive, modern and larger entrance to the pier, helping to attract more visitors to the seafront and the iconic landmark.

 

Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy said: “The plans to re-design the entrance to the pier have been carefully thought out, and we are delighted that they got the backing of the committee, who delegated approval to officers subject to the expiry of the consultation period.

 

“By securing these improvements, which are part of a continued and multi-million pound investment in the pier, we hope to make the entrance more attractive and appealing to visitors, and help develop a sustainable income for years to come.

 

“Bringing more tourists to Southend-on-Sea is a key component to these plans. Tourism is one of the major employment sectors in Southend-on-Sea and adds an estimated £400m to the local economy.”

 

The plans show how the pier entrance will be extended and the space re-modelled to provide areas for exhibitions, refreshments and ice creams. The proposals also include an access ramp to make the entrance fully accessible for all.

 

Work is scheduled to take place over the coming weeks and it is hoped that the extension will be open to the public in time for the school summer holidays. £300,000 of capital funding was approved as part of the 2017/18 budget to carry out the project.

Westcliff Library better than ever after refurbishment

 

Friday 7th April 2017

 

Westcliff Library on London Road has reopened and is welcoming its customers back to the new and improved library following a revamp.

 

In January, Westcliff Library closed its doors and months of major refurbishment and redecorating began. The interior has now been transformed with new flooring, layout and energy efficient lighting. 

 

As well as the major make over, Westcliff Library now has a brand new Meeting Room which will be available for hire later in the year for club meetings, business gatherings and community groups.

 

Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy said: “Libraries are an important part of the community and we are happy to welcome our customers back to Westcliff library and hope new customers will also be encouraged to visit.

 

“We are delighted to have finished the refurbishment and confident residents and library users will enjoy the changes which include ease of access for customers, a fresh environment and open layout.” 

 

For Westcliff Library opening times please visit our website: http://www.southend.gov.uk/directory_record/10/westcliff_library

 
 

Revised work programme for Kent Elms junction

 

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is putting measures in place to ensure traffic into and out of the town flows as smoothly as possible during the summer season after encountering delays by utility companies which will see some outbound street works activity continuing into summer.

 

Work by National Grid to divert their gas main was scheduled to take three weeks to complete. However, it has subsequently taken 16 weeks to complete their work. This has caused a knock-on delay to other utilities work that needs to be carried out at the junction. As much as possible, we have focussed our work on areas of the highway that are not affected by the gas mains diversions, predominantly in the north (Southend-bound) side of the junction. Over 80% of the work is still scheduled for completion in mid-June. However, the result of this unforeseen delay is that we will need to continue some work on the south (London-bound) side of the junction through to September.

 

Though these utilities delays were beyond our control, we have worked up a revised programme with our contractor, Eurovia, which aims to minimise disruption to traffic during the peak season. Work on inbound carriageways is still scheduled to complete before the summer but there will now be some off-peak closures of single lanes on the London-bound carriageway during the summer period.

 

We have put the following arrangements in place to minimise pressure on the A127 during busy holiday periods.

 

Easter and end-of-May school holidays

In consideration of the impact of lane closures during these busy periods, there will be two lanes Southend-bound kept open throughout the day. On the London-bound carriageway, there will be no peak lane closures and Eurovia will also endeavour to keep off-peak (09.30 – 15.30) lane closures to a minimum.

 

Summer school holidays

All lanes will be completed on the Southend-bound carriageway before the summer holidays. Some off-peak lane closures may still be necessary at times but a minimum of two lanes on the Southend-bound carriageway will be kept open throughout the day. On the London-bound carriageway, there will be no peak lane closures and Eurovia will also endeavour to keep off-peak (09.30 – 15.30) lane closures to a minimum.

 

New footbridge

We are currently asking companies to submit bids for the replacement of the footbridge over the A127 at Kent Elms. We anticipate that the bridge will be assembled offsite and swiftly constructed in modules in the autumn. This will keep the number and duration of lane closures to a minimum at this point. We have made a commitment to keeping school crossing patrols in place during term times until a new footbridge is in place.

 

Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Cllr for Transport, Waste & Cleansing, said:

 

“We appreciate that this delay in the project will be a concern for some local residents and businesses in Southend. Whilst this news is disappointing and beyond our control, our response is to keep traffic flowing into the town as best we can in order to support the local economy. We remain committed to completing the project as swiftly as possible and with as little disruption as possible for local residents, businesses and visitors.

 

“Once complete, this project will better manage current and future traffic levels at this important junction into our growing town and it is important not to lose sight of the important benefits of this work.” 

 

We will be holding discussions with local councillors and stakeholders over the coming days.

 

Further updates will be posted to our Better Southend webpage (www.southend.gov.uk/bettersouthed) as a new work programme is agreed.

Active Festival on Southend Pier

 

Wednesday 19th April 2017

 

Southend-on-Sea residents and visitors are invited to take part in the Active Festival event taking place on Friday 28th April from 12:30pm to 2:30pm as part of the 125 years of Southend-on-Sea Borough celebrations.

 

The free event is being hosted by Active Life and Southend Pier and takes place in the Cultural Centre in the Royal Pavilion. The afternoon’s activities for adults of all abilities will be delivered by staff and volunteers from the local community interest company ‘Active Life for a Healthier You’. Activities include: Dance Fit, Zumba, Yoga HIIT and Low Impact Aerobics. 

 

The Active Festival aims to encourage visitors to discover the benefits of enjoyable sports, fitness and socialising, free Health checks are also being offered provided by Anglian Community Enterprises (ACE).

 

Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy said “This is a wonderful event, giving residents and visitors the opportunity to try out different activities for all abilities.

 

“As we begin to celebrate the 125th year of the Borough, I am very much looking forward to more events across Southend-on-Sea for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

 

No booking is required for this free event. Just come along and give the activities on offer a go. Please note that usual pier admissions charges do apply.

 

Special events have been organised across the Borough to mark 125 years since the incorporation of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea, beginning with the iconic Poppies sculpture, Wave at Barge Pier in Shoeburyness from 12th April until 25th June. This breath-taking sculpture is being exhibited across the UK, along with Weeping Window, by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

 

This will be followed by a wide range of community events throughout the summer including a Flower Festival in Priory Park, and culminate on the Pier on 24th September with ‘Silk River”: a creative regional event linking the Thames Estuary with the Hooghly River in Kolkata.

 

To follow activities being organised as part of the 125th year visit:

www.southend.gov.uk/125years or on twitter #southend125.

 

Wheelie Brilliant!

 

Festival of Wheels is a spoketacular success

 

The first ever Southend Festival of Wheels has been hailed a huge hit after thousands turned out on St George’s Day (23rd April) to enjoy a celebration of all things wheeled.

 

The High Street and seafront were turned into a series of zones where visitors could marvel at all manner of exotic machinery – from classic scooters to modern supercars – watch thrilling stunt shows and be inspired to take up a new sport.

 

Providing a musical backdrop to the already buzzing town centre were local choirs, up-and-coming singers and young bands.

 

Located at Victoria Circus, Team Extreme wowed the crowds with a series of world-class BMX, skateboard, inline skating and scooter shows. Thousands thronged throughout the festival to watch BMXers catching big air (over 12ft) on the vert ramp, while skaters and scooter riders impressed with their own ‘sick’ flips.

 

Meanwhile, the seafront positively throbbed to the roar of motorbike engines as the Two Brothers Racing Stunt Team entertained spectators on City Beach. One visitor quipped that free donuts were available in Southend as Mark ‘Vandal’ Van Driel, Paul ‘Toddy’ Todd and Katrina ‘Trina’ Van Driel-Stratton performed a series of tricks in front of an estimated 2000 people per show, laying circles of black rubber on the concrete as their bikes gyrated round in circles.

 

Southend Wheelers were just one of the clubs and organisations supporting the Southend BID-organised event, promoting road and track cycling to visitors on the seafront. As is traditional in cycling, the post club run coffee and cake stop ensured that the seating area outside one of the cafes in the arches by the pier head was a sea of yellow, white and black jerseys as the riders refuelled.

 

The esplanades also became showcases for petrol-heads, as car, bike and steam engine enthusiasts could admire a cavalcade of highly desirable and unusual machinery. 

 

Alison Dewey, Southend BID Manager said: “It was a fantastic event and we’ve had so much positive feedback. Footfall was high across the seafront and town centre. The festival was really well received by visitors and local businesses, with one firm reporting a 29% increase in customers.”   

 

For more information about other events coming to Southend soon, click on www.visitsouthend.co.uk, like the Facebook page Visit Southend or follow @VisitSouthend on twitter. 

 
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