Oh boy it has been a fun few days in the Southend councillor blogosphere. It all started with Tory councillors Cox and Holdcroft seemingly publishing the private thoughts of their Labour counterpart Cllr Ware-Lane on the proposed cruise event down the seafront. This did not sit well with the councillor for Milton. So all in all some interesting beef.
First of all lets look at the leader of the council and his sly dig that Cllr Ware-Lane doesn’t live in the ward he represents. Pathetic. Cllr Holdcroft is a grown adult and should act like one. As for Cllr Cox I think his crimes are far less although stating something that was seemingly said in private is just not cricket.
The thing none of these councillors seem to get is that the cruising event was the type of thing we should actually encourage. Do we not want 1000 odd cars and say 2,000 odd people coming into the town on a February Saturday evening? Cllr Holdcroft says it would have done nothing for the local authority, which might be true but would it have done something for the local economy of the traders along the seafront? You bet your bottom dollar that it would. With the shared space and the spy cameras who are desperate to ticket anyone who stops for a brief second the traders along the seafront are facing hard times. I’m pretty sure they would have loved 2,000 odd people coming in and spending money in shops and at pubs, fast food joints along the seafront!
Now of course there is the noise and the ‘safety of the public’ that has to be thought about. Cllr Holdcroft says it ‘would have brought noise, disruption and traffic chaos to the seafront and town centre causing aggravation to residents, visitors and traders alike.‘ Interesting Point of View – noise is certainly a fair thing to talk about but disruption and traffic chaos? How many vehicles are going along the seafront on a Saturday night in February? Not millions in my guess. Would residents be aggravated? Possibly but would visitors to the town be aggravated? No and would traders? No – they were extremely annoyed that the council and police got an injunction to stop the event! I’ll give Cllr Holdcroft a bit of a heads up – traders like more people to potentially sell their produce to. The seafront is dead in the winter months so this was a nice little bonus for them until it was snatched away from them.
Now that they have set a precedent does the town want to stop people coming in at the weekend to get drunk and create issues that face every single town every single weekend? I think it is a pretty fair assumption to make that the cruisers would have broken less laws during their proposed event than what revelers do every single weekend in bars, clubs and the surrounding areas. The police were down there anyway to ensure nothing went on – so instead of paying them to monitor an event bringing money and people into the town – we were paying them to make sure nothing happened. Quite brilliant financial planning there! Bravo!
Southend is all about the seafront. It is all about bringing people into into the town. If the seafront disappears as a force for businesses then the town is really facing an issue long-term. It seems that the general consensus amongst traders along the seafront is they are at near breaking point. Revenues are going down and they don’t see things getting any better any time soon. Southend’s seafront should be the jewel in the crown of the town. The way it is going it will soon become a relic. I know this was just one event but it is indicative of how the seafront traders are feeling. A chance to make some nice money on a February evening and instead the seafront was a ghost town and tills aren’t in action.
If (as seems the case) Cllr’s Holdcroft and Cox did essentially publicly express the opinion of another councillor that was expressed in private via the council e-mail system then they should just apologise and move on. As for the greater issue – it seems that the Tory council are not big fans of people coming into the town and spending money in local businesses. I thought that would be quite a big issue for them, certainly in the winter months? Yes I will grant that the noise could have been an issue but it is winter – no-one has their windows or doors wide open and these cruisers would not have been there all night. If things had gone well then perhaps this was a chance to find another regular event that brought people into the town. Heck if we are worried about that noise we should crackdown on people walking home drunk in the early hours – those guys make noise too but seemingly that is ok.
I think the council – and police – acted in haste here and as for people discussing private things in a public forum – pretty darn disappointing…