Irresponsible Southend Tories signal a return to profligacy

Money well spent?

Southend's Tory councillors have decided to sell off council properties to raise £525,000. At last week's full council meeting their administration, supported by Ukip, voted to spend £580,000 for events to ‘Celebrate 125 years of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea’ & the ‘Centenary of Priory Park being gifted to the Town’.

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Last Thursday’s full council meeting was characterised by several underwhelming performances by Conservative portfolio holders. It included an unconvincing defence of the extravagance that is ‘Celebrating 125 years of the Borough of Southend-on-Sea’ & the ‘Centenary of Priory Park being gifted to the Town’. Many Labour councillors felt that the meeting time - and indeed the money decided - could have been spent on more important matters.

Labour Councillor Julian Ware-Lane questioned Councillor Ann Holland  (the Conservatives’ Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism & the Economy), as to whether her and her party colleague’s decision to spend £580,000 on an arbitrary anniversary when austerity has seen enormous cuts over the last six years, with the promise of more, is a good idea. She said that she thinks it is and her colleagues then voted for it.

Julian acknowledged that these occasions could happily be celebrated under different financial circumstances but said it is likely most residents would agree that we should be concerned that profligacy has once again returned to Southend-on-Sea's Borough Council, now that the Tories are back in control and promoting their vanity projects.

The Conservative administration has found the money from the Business Transformation Reserve.

Here is a list of what it is being spent on :



Poppies exhibition


Flower festival in Priory Park


Planting 125 trees


Priory Park Gates


Concert / musical event during the Village Green weekend


Project Manager


Grants to local organisations


Silk River Project






Royal visit


Planting of floral displays with the logo


Series of sporting events


Series of Bandstand concerts


Picnics in the parks across the borough


Civic Service

Councillor Ann Holland (who is in charge of the portfolio but actually lives outside the borough in Wakering despite representing Southchurch ward), believes the expenditure will transform business. Labour Councillors wonder how: there is nothing in that list that even gets close to a sensible definition of business transformation.

That  item at the council meeting followed Julian Ware-Lane’s questioning about selling off two council properties (homes that could have housed families) which raised £525,000. Aside from the fact that some would consider this a slap in the face to those who sit on the Council's housing list, selling off Council property to fund these extravagant celebrations is unwarranted.

The current Conservative administration has wasted little time in returning to their spend now, pay later ways. Clearly it is austerity for some, extravagance for others.

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