Labour Party councillors on Southend Borough Council have, together with the other opposition groups, put forward a series of six amendments to the budget proposed by the Conservative administration and to be voted on tonight. These six amendments are intended to address some of the critical needs of the town which the budget as proposed overlooks, and can be delivered with no additional increase in council tax.

The amendments include:

– To introduce a self-funding selective licensing scheme for landlords in some of the town’s most challenging wards.

– To introduce free swimming for pensioners on Wednesday mornings, and to provide funding for infill of street lighting in areas where needed, funded by reintroduction of licensing fees for chairs and tables external to businesses.

– To work with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to open two new health centres, one in Shoeburyness and one in the West of the Borough.

– To develop and build 52 additional care home units.

– To build a new multi-storey car park on Tylers Avenue.

– To expand the community safety team to provide weekend and evening support in the town centre, to run a pilot scheme to investigate a permit scheme for residents in council-owned car parks, and to carry out assessment for deployment of solar panels and energy efficiency measures in relation to council housing stock.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, Labour Group leader, said, “Our argument all along has been that this budget is devoid of ambition, and doesn’t address the very serious needs facing the town. Whilst a Labour budget would be far more radical and far more ambitious, I am pleased that these amendments, if passed, would make a real difference for residents in the borough.”

“Measures like improving the street lighting and providing weekend and evening enforcement support in the town centre would begin to help address residents’ concerns about public safety, whilst a new multi-storey car park would alleviate some of the parking issues in the town. Projects such as new health centres and care home units, as well as free swimming for pensioners, would be a real investment in Southend’s people.”

“We have worked with colleagues in the Lib Dem and Independent groups to come up with these ideas, and we hope that the whole council will support them.”

All of the proposals in these amendments have been fully costed and are affordable. The amendments have been signed off by Joe Chesterton as the Council’s Chief Financial Officer, to confirm that they would not produce an unbalanced or unsound budget.

The formal amendment documents being presented to the council are available to read or download from this link

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