Nearly £60m new investment proposed over the next four years

Expanded secondary schools, a new care campus for the elderly, and investment in the Pier, parks and car parking improvements top the funding list as the council’s draft capital budget up to 2021 has been revealed.

In addition to over £125m already in the capital budget committed to important projects, £59.1m of funding has been identified for a number of existing and new projects up to 2021, including:

• £20m on a major secondary school expansion programme, following recent work to expand many primary schools.  An estimated £10m is expected from central Government funding, with a further £1m expected to refurbish maintained schools that require work. This is in addition to £8m identified last year for the conversion of PROCAT and Wentworth sites and partial expansions of other schools
• £11.5m new investment in Southend Pier, including £8m to reconstruct the timber outer pier head, and an additional £1.5m for reinforcement works to the Prince George extension
• £9.5m for the redevelopment of Priory and Delaware residential care home and the Viking Day Centre for people with a learning disability. This is in addition to £2m previously identified in the current capital budget
• £5m to look into creating additional car parking capacity at sites south of central Southend, and £0.5m to improve parking signage

Cllr John Lamb, Leader of the Council, says: “Despite the continued central funding cuts, we must be bold, ambitious and invest in our Borough to ensure that we advance and prosper in the future.

“We are therefore investing significant sums in essential things like secondary school places, ensuring that our famous Pier is safeguarded, maintained and improved and investing in plans to look after our elderly and vulnerable through developing new facilities. We also continue to fight for external funding, and have had many successes in securing external funding for important local projects.

“We have also listened to local traders and are proposing major investment in creating additional car parking spaces in the central Southend area and improving signage and guidance systems.

“We are also ensuring that we remain a modern business and workforce, by investing in ICT and software improvements and a number of smaller but equally important projects.

“Wherever possible these projects will bring income into the council or just must be done.  Despite the austere times this gives us an impressive capital budget to make a difference to important local facilities and infrastructure and shows that we are open for business and here to do the very best for local people and businesses.”

Further proposed projects include:
• £6.2m to continue the completion of the Decent Homes programme in 2020/21, including kitchen and housing modernisations, and carry out energy efficiency and health and safety works funded through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) major repairs allowance
• £1.3m for ICT business transformation to enable more efficiencies to be made, streamline services and enable future revenue savings to be made
• £1.2m on core ICT infrastructure and software improvements that are vital to ensure the council remains a modern and productive business
• £0.7m for theatres and leisure centres
• £0.5m to develop and improve car park signage for the whole Borough and introduce new signage, particularly to promote alternative seafront car parks
• £0.4m for a major CCTV upgrade to digital cameras
• £0.25m for a new ‘wheeled sports’ facility in the central Southend area to be developed between 2018 and 2020. This will be for skateboarders, bikers and scooters
• £0.25m to deliver short term measures to help deal with extreme rainfall events and plan for the medium and longer term
• £0.25m to look into the feasibility of wave and tidal energy on the pier, drainage sensors and solar PV and battery energy
• £0.2m for play equipment and park furniture
• £50K to provide new commercial beach huts on the Pier, a small fleet of rickshaw type bikes for Pier visitors, and a new shelter on City Beach
• £50K for new doors and security improvements at the Southend Travel Centre
• £45K to replace handrails along the Cliffs area

The £59.1m of new funding will take the approved capital programme for 2017/18 to 2020/21 to £185.8m, of which £58.8m of this is expected to be spent in 2017/18, £61.2m in 2018/19, £49.6m in 2019/20 and £16.2m in 2020/21. External funding accounts for £58.2m of this.