Cllr Mark Flewitt, currently functioning as Deputy Mayor, has served Southend Borough Council and its residents for over 14 years representing St Laurence Ward, Eastwood. He has held various Portfolio roles across a range of disciplines including Children, Transport and Housing. Outside of this remit, Cllr Flewitt champions equality and sexual health matters and is strongly concerned about homelessness, its affects, and what can be done to tackle this grave issue.
Prior to moving to Southend, Cllr Flewitt served as a Councillor for the London Borough of Havering’s Hildene Ward which he says was “an area with some amazing people who wanted and needed a better deal from life”.
Cllr Flewitt, Southend Community News recently caught up with you at the Beecroft Gallery.
M.T-T We live only 40 miles from some of the world’s greatest museums, galleries and concert venues. How important is it for Southend to retain and celebrate its local
M.F. It is of huge importance to keep our culture alive and accessible. The Priory Prince (Or King) find was of international importance, the London shipwreck is equally
The lighter side of culture is showing well, with music festivals and jazz both putting
Southend on the visitor (Internal and external) map.
M.T-T. Who or what inspired you to enter politics?
M.F Margaret Thatcher!
I did not like her robustness or bossy approach, but age and maturity have proved to
me that both are highly desirable qualities.
I wanted to simply help people to achieve better environments for living and
relaxing, it’s a tough ask in this cynical world where some are simply out to trip you
M.T-T. To say that British politics is going through a transitional phase, would be an
understatement. Watching from the side-lines, and observing various personalities
and their ever-changing alliances (and sometimes opinions), I wonder – is to be a
politician “a privilege to serve”, or has it become “just a job”?
Depending what kind of day you have will depend on the answer.
I’m driven to achieve and although I can be put-off by some people, I take some
quality time with my husband and find a couple of hours at leisure see’s any
M.T-T. You are particularly interested in homelessness and the issues that surround it. The plight of the homeless is becoming more visible around the Borough and it is a
concern for the whole community. Are there any initiatives that you yourself
support that residents can get involved with, even on a small scale?
M.F .Yes, reporting homeless people, in confidence, to the Council and an organisation called “Streetwise” to arrange that the person concerned is offered help and assistance. Adults can and do say “no” too often but it is their right to refuse help.
Young people, however, are URGENT cases and a report to the Police or Council is a
Homelessness is ironically a success story in the Borough. Government has given
grants of well over a million pounds to us very recently. This is used to reduce street
homelessness and investigate each incidence of homelessness in order to eradicate
it by getting each person to begin an accommodation and support process.
Homelessness, is not always as it appears and people should get the Council and
other agencies involved as soon as possible without making any assumptions.
M.T-T. The Environment, and all issues related, is receiving a huge amount of media
attention. In your household, what do you and your husband do to help the
environment/minimise your environmental impact?.
M.F. We thoroughly use the current recycle waste process and avoid buying unnecessary
I don’t drive, so my use of public transport makes some contribution.
However, I’m sure that like many we can do more!
M,T-T Looking back at all the work and projects you have been involved in throughout
Southend (and Havering), of what are you the most proud and why?
M.F. I think the HIV Champion role that I held on Southend Borough Council and further back simply “coming out” as gay.
M.T-T. What would you like your legacy to be?
M.F. Effort, effort and more effort!
Very seriously, that I worked on many cases, big and small to make some differences
to some people’s lives.
M.T-T. If you could invite any four guests, alive or dead, to a dinner party, who would you select and why?
M.F. Any one of the Stonewall Rioters from 1969 to ask about what happened that night and to congratulate him/her on their bravery.
Kate Bush! My music legend and hero. To tell her how I grew up with her music and
how much that comforted me in tough times...Oh and to say WOW for the Tour of
Life concert, which I saw live and which left me absolutely inspired.
Queen Victoria. An amazing woman who is only now getting the advanced accolade
she deserved for the way she battled against the surrounding bureaucracy.
Ralph Richardson, for his wonderful acting and some of the classic quintessential
films like the “Holly And the Ivy”!!!
M.T-T. What do you like most about living and working around Southend? What – in your opinion - is the town’s biggest asset?
like the challenge of development and keeping that under control!
M.F.I love that we are a seaside town with city aspirations and an amazing coastline for leisure and historic purposes.
Our biggest asset is undoubtedly the amazing Pier.
Many thnks for your time - Melanie