Council team wins big at procurement awards
Tuesday 28th March 2017
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has been crowned Procurement Team of the Year at this year’s National Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards which celebrate the very best of the public sector buying industry.
The team beat competition from organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions, Crown Commercial Service, Leeds City Council and Liverpool City Council. The team were also finalists in the Procurement Innovation/Initiative of the Year award.
The Central Procurement Team have placed themselves firmly at the heart of the Council becoming a more efficient organisation, implementing a number of key changes to the way the council buys services, and now influences 85% of the council’s spend, compared to only 30% in 2014.
Cllr Andrew Moring, Executive Councillor for Corporate Services, said: “I am delighted that the team’s achievements have been acknowledged in this way, and that the council continues to be recognised nationally across a number of service areas.
“Southend-on-Sea Borough Council spends around £120m per year buying services, supplies and works contracts to deliver services and facilities to local people and businesses. We are accountable to the public for the way we spend these public funds and it is therefore vital that we have a professional procurement service that delivers value for money for local taxpayers, and this award proves that we do.”
Grahame Steed, Managing Editor of GO and Chair of the National GO Awards Judging Panel, said of the Awards: “This was an absolutely huge night for public sector procurement and demonstrated once again the ground-breaking initiatives that procurement teams across the UK are producing on a regular basis.
“At a time when public sector budgets are being slashed and performances are under continued scrutiny, it’s a testament to the teams involved that their initiatives continue to save money and, in many cases, change people’s lives for the better.”
Visit http://www.goawards.co.uk.national for further details on this year’s finalists.
Southend resident makes Borough model
Thursday 29th March 2017
A Southend-on-Sea resident who spent three years making a scale model of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea has unveiled his work at the Civic Centre in Victoria Avenue.
Mr Ralph Swallows, age 85, from Centurion Close, Shoeburyness has used thread soaked in glue and numerous pieces of recycled wood found across the beaches and streets of Shoeburyness to create this miniature masterpiece.
Over the period of three years, Mr Swallows has painstakingly recreated the entire Borough - including local landmarks such as the Pier, High Street, London Southend Airport (with miniature plane ready for take-off) and the Civic Centre - all from his Shoeburyness apartment.
During his working life Mr Swallows made models of oil plants located in Oslo, Rome and Germany, as well as models in the construction of the Javelin aircraft, a twin-engine T-tailed delta-winged subsonic night and all weather interceptor that served with the RAF.
Cllr John Lamb, Leader of the Council said “This is amazing, the miniature sale and attention to detail is superb.
“Other models made by Mr Swallow have in the past been displayed in the Barbican Centre in London, so we are very grateful to share his work with the people of Southend-on-Sea by displaying it here in the Civic Centre. I would urge local people to take a look and view his extraordinary craftsmanship.”
The model is currently on display at the Civic Centre First Floor Foyer in Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea.
Council agrees transformation of vacant seafront unit
Tuesday 28th March 2017
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s planning department has given permission to transform a vacant unit on Southend-on-Sea’s seafront into a cultural venue and café.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s planning officers granted consent on 17 March to transform the currently vacant unit into a café and cultural events venue. The unit was built as part of the Pier Hill lift project, but unfortunately was never occupied.
The plans will provide for gallery space with a café, patio, kitchen and seating. A performance area will also be part of the offer and a variety of shows and exhibitions will be a feature of the gallery. This will be provided by different groups and organisations curated through Focal Point Gallery. The ‘shop front’ will be open and welcoming, attracting visitors to look inside and explore. A small kitchen will allow small scale catering.
The Council has budgeted £200k to deliver the building. It is then anticipated that it will become self-sufficient, with activities at the venue incorporated in the Focal Point Gallery’s and Council’s cultural programme.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism & The Economy, said: “I’m delighted that the planning officers have approved these plans, which will allow us to develop this exciting new cultural venue.
“These works complement plans to revamp the pier entrance, demonstrating our ongoing investment to tourism and giving one of Southend-on-Sea’s most iconic areas a welcome enhancement to the visitor experience.”
Work could begin on the refurbishment in the coming weeks and open during the summer season.
Further information on the planning application can be found here.
Veterans: A Shared Experience
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Southend Museums is set to open an emotional exhibition this week that will bring the experiences of local veterans to life.
Veterans: A Shared Experience has been carefully and sensitively curated to bring the public an engaging exhibition of local Veterans’ experiences, memories and even sacrifices.
Through portrait photography, oral history and interviews, local servicemen and women have shared their personal, powerful and sometimes painful memories of conflict.
The exhibition aims to connect visitors with the past actions of our local veterans and how important their experiences and sacrifices have been to the development of our society as we know it.
Veterans of Southend-on-Sea are invited to attend a private view of the exhibition from 11am – 1pm on March 25th with refreshments served in the Beecroft Art Gallery.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said “This exhibition will bring the actions of our local servicemen and women to the forefront of our minds.
“It will leave visitors with a deeper connection to the past and to those who fought for our freedoms today.
“We are very thankful as, without the help of our Veterans and their loved ones, some whom have sadly passed during this project, we would not be able to bring this exhibition to the people of Southend-on-Sea.”
Veterans: A Shared Experience will be on display at the Southend Central Museum from March 25th 2017 – March 24th 2018.
The new big names at The Sea Life Adventure
Some of the new creatures at Southend Sea-Life Adventure have been named by lucky competition winners from Radio Essex.
The aquarium recently opened its doors for the first time following a £680,000 redevelopment - the popular south Essex attraction has now virtually doubled in size and features a whole host of new animal attractions, including penguins, meerkats, otters and even a Royal Python.
Listeners to Wake Up Essex were asked to name some of the new animals – and the winners have just visited the seafront attraction to meet the creatures and receive certificates and see plaques unveiled.
4-year old Hector Dyton from Westcliff-on-Sea named the otter after himself whilst Phoebe (10), Niamh (11) & Beau Layzell (8) from Southend-on-Sea named the meerkats Dotty, Morag and Pearl – all enjoyed a tour from Talks Host Sophie Turner.
New Chief Executive approved by Full Council
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Full Council has approved the appointment of Alison Griffin as the Council’s new Chief Executive and Town Clerk (Tuesday 21st March 2017).
The recommendation was made by the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee last week after a national recruitment and selection process that started after Rob Tinlin announced he would be retiring at the end of March 2017.
Alison Griffin is currently Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the London Borough of Bexley, having previously been Assistant Director for Communities at the London Borough of Camden from May 2010 to August 2013 and then Deputy Director of Finance at the same authority until September 2014.
Alison said: “I am delighted to be appointed as the new Chief Executive and Town Clerk of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, and to receive approval from Full Council.
“I am very excited about the challenge of taking the Council on the next stage of its journey and am looking forward to meeting all of the staff, councillors, partners, local residents and businesses when I start later in the year.”
Cllr John Lamb, Leader of the Council, says: “I am very pleased that Alison has been approved by Full Council as the new Chief Executive and Town Clerk.
“Everybody who met her through the recruitment process was impressed by her energy, passion, intellect and ideas and I am sure that she will be a positive force for the local area.”
Acting up arrangements will be shared between the two Deputy Chief Executives and will be in place from 1st April until the new Chief Executive takes up her post. A start date will be agreed in the coming weeks.
New school could be built in Southend-on-Sea to meet demand
Tuesday 7th March 2016
Plans for a new secondary school in Southend-on-Sea will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week (Tuesday 14thMarch).
Detailed planning by the council shows that 4 to 5 new forms of entry will be needed by September 2018, and a further 6 by September 2019.
The council is currently working with Eastwood, Shoeburyness and Belfairs academy schools to secure commitment for a council funded expansion programme to meet the September 2018 demand. It is recommended that demand for September 2019 is met through a combination of expansions and the building of a new free school, and the council is investigating the feasibility of this in partnership with existing and proven academy trusts.
Any new school would be centrally funded via a trust bid directly to the DfE, and there would be no cost to the council.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “The council recently completed a comprehensive primary school expansion programme, and we have been busily planning for the next phase which is naturally at our secondary schools.
“This report details how we can meet the need for September 2018 through expansion which is already budgeted for through our capital budget, but the only realistic option to meet need by September 2019 is to support an academy trust bid to build a new free school.
“The timings are challenging, and there is much work to be done, but we expect an application to be made to the DfE by the Summer with a view to opening a new free school in September 2019, which may need to be in temporary accommodation to start with due to the timescales involved. No sites have yet been identified, and this will all be part of any central application and bid made.”
More new council housing in the pipeline
Tuesday 7th March 2017
More new council homes could soon be on the way, with councillors set to discuss Phase 2 of the council’s house building drive next week (Cabinet, Tuesday 14th March).
Following the completion of 18 new affordable homes in Shoeburyness at the end of February, councillors will be asked to agree that plans to develop 15 homes and a bungalow for disabled use on two underutilised garage sites at Rochford Road and Audleys Close be brought forward for consultation and the submission of a planning application.
Initial studies show that the Rochford Road site has the potential for 12 two bedroom flats and 3, 3 bedroom houses, and the Audleys Close site, which is much smaller, could have a bungalow for disabled use built on it.
The project is expected to cost £2.75m, which would be funded through right to buy contributions, planning obligations (section 106 contributions) and capital reserves from the housing revenue account.
If approved at Cabinet next week, further public consultation will take place followed by the submission of a planning application. It is hoped that work could start on site by the Autumn, and completed by Autumn 2018.
Cllr Andrew Moring, Deputy Executive Councillor for Housing, says: “I am very pleased to see this report coming forwards so soon after the completion of the 18 new homes in Shoeburyness.
“Officers have been working very hard to complete Phase 1, but have also been working on Phase 2 plans at the same time so that we are ready to get straight on with delivering more affordable housing for local people, which is needed more than ever.
“Both of these proposed sites are underutilised and offer the perfect opportunity to do something productive with them, and subject to the necessary approval, I hope that we can get on with this important project.”
Council to continue ‘vital’ school improvement funding
Thursday 2nd March 2017
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has announced that school improvement funding, which was due to stop at the end of March 2017, will continue for the next two years.
It follows a major rise in the number of children attending a good or outstanding school since the funding started in 2014. The new funding will help to continue the school improvement programme and develop plans to give more local children the opportunity to attend grammar school.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “I was delighted to announce a three-year investment into school improvement in the 2014 budget which has now come to an end. Since I announced this funding in 2014 the numbers of Southend children attending a good or outstanding school has risen from 71.4% to 89.2%.
“This improvement means the vast number of children in Southend receive a good or better education, but we will continue to support all of our schools and have recently formed a new Education Board to enable us to do so, irrespective of schools status (academy or local authority).
“We undoubtedly live in austere times, but now is not the time to withdraw funding for school improvement. Therefore I am delighted to confirm that we are continuing this vital investment, of £200,000 a year, for the next 2 years.
“One of the additional things we will be looking to do with this funding over the forthcoming years is to support more Southend-on-Sea children, and particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, to gain access to our grammar schools. We are fortunate enough to have four grammar schools in Southend, along with 'grammar streams' at some of our other secondary schools, and it is only right that Southend pupils consider whether it is right to put themselves forward for selection to these schools.
“Therefore I am delighted to announce that we have been working with the local grammar schools to come up with practical ways to ensure all children in Southend have the same chances to improve their life opportunities, and for many children this will be through attending one of our outstanding grammar schools. Further details of the plan to help assist our children prepare for the selection test and ultimately attend one of the grammar schools will be announced very soon.”
The funding is part of the council’s 2017/18 budget which was approved at Full Council on Thursday 23rd February 2017.
Southend gears up for Festival of Wheels
Supercars to BMX stunts: Get ready for big thrills at brand new event
Thousands of people are expected to roll into Southend on 23 April 2017 as the town celebrates all forms of arguably, man’s greatest invention – the wheel!
Everything wheel-related and everyone with a passion for wheel-based fun is invited. From super cars to classic cars, wheelchair dancers to daredevil BMX displays, if it moves on wheels, then it will be celebrated.
The inaugural Festival of Wheels will run between 11am-5pm throughout Southend High Street and the seafront.
The event also coincides with ‘Drive It Day’, so clubs and enthusiasts will be most welcome to create a pageant of power – from bicycles to cars, scooters to charabancs – as they head to a display area.
Highlights of the Festival will include displays of two, three and four-wheeled beauties, urban sports stunts from ‘Team Extreme’, motorbike stunt demonstrations from global stunt artists ‘Two Brothers Racing’, remote-controlled vehicles, wheelchair dance performances and plenty of opportunities to try out the machinery itself. Not only that, live bands will be performing, along with walkabout entertainers to delight and amuse the kids.
Two and four-wheeled activities are also set to be important highlights of the Festival, with event partner Public Health England promoting its One You campaign for a healthier, more active lifestyle. Local cycling clubs will be on hand to advise visitors about how they can get more from riding their bike, either by riding as part of a group of friends, or with expert advice about how to start racing.
The organisers will create different zones throughout the High Street and seafront, devoted to different themes. The High Street will play host to car displays, live entertainment and a stunt arena while down on the seafront, there will be bike clubs, motorbike flat land stunts, motorbike and scooter displays and more live entertainment.
Southend BID is the driving force behind the brand new Festival of Wheels and Southend BID Manager Alison Dewey believes it will be a dynamic and exciting addition to the cultural life of the town: “Southend is a vibrant place, with film, music and literary festivals providing plenty of reasons to come and visit. Ironically though, our relationship with the wheel has long been overlooked. In 2012, nearby Hadleigh staged the Olympic mountain biking event, Ford has a long and proud relationship with Essex and the Tour De France passed through Essex just four years ago. If you add to that the huge popularity of skateboarding, inline skating and, of course, our continuing love affair with the car ad motorbike, then time is ripe to celebrate the wheel in all its myriad forms.”
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, says: “I am delighted that Southend-on-Sea will host this family friendly event across the High Street and seafront, an event that will focus on celebrating wheels of all types and sizes. I hope the event goes well and can become an established part of the local events calendar.”
Of course, whilst this is a fun event for all the family, using the roads is a serious business, as Peter Swanwick from the Safer Essex Road Partnership says: “Every year, too many people are killed or seriously injured on our roads, and this has to change! We must all take a personal responsibility for road safety, use the roads carefully and considerately and to look out for vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians in particular. If we all think about what we are doing and take care of each other, we should all be able to use the roads safely and make it back home - a small change to behaviour makes a big difference.”
Three-quarters get first choice secondary school
Tuesday 28th February 2017
Over three-quarters (76%) of Southend-on-Sea children will start secondary school in September 2017 at their first choice school, with 90% getting one of their top three preferences.
More than 1,921 parents in Southend-on-Sea will discover the outcome of their secondary school applications tomorrow (Wednesday 1st March), with those who applied online getting confirmation by email or via the Southend-on-Sea online application service.
Out of 1,921 applications made, 93% received one of their top five preferences.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “I am pleased that over three-quarters of applicants received offers for their first preference and 90% one of their top three preferences. We make every effort to ensure that every child of secondary school age that has applied is offered a place.
“Whilst the majority of people will gain a place at one of their preferred schools, we always recognise that there will be disappointed families who did not receive either their first choice or who did not receive any of their top three.
“Looking forwards, we are working hard on plans to increase the number of pupil places available locally and recently committed an additional £20m in our capital budget to fund a secondary school expansion programme in the coming years, improve facilities available and help to ensure that there are sufficient places offering good quality and choice to our young people and their parents and carers.”