A number of stones, painted to resemble eyes, have been distributed across the beaches of Southend, to highlight the number of people in the borough who have been trained to “see the signs” of child exploitation.
Over 1,500 people across the borough have been trained to spot the signs of child exploitation, and are now trained to look out for possible county lines activity. Each painted stone represents a local person who is now actively looking out for our children. Taxi drivers, hotel staff, social workers, charity workers and many other local people have undertaken the training and are reporting anything they see that could mean a child is being exploited or involved in county lines.
The rocks have been distributed across the beaches in recognition of Child Exploitation Awareness Day, which took place on 18th March. Pupils from St. Thomas More High School, Shoeburyness High School, Greenways Primary School and Bournemouth Park Academy painted the stones in recognition of the community looking out for all our children.
'County lines' is a term used when criminal gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local drug dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs.
If you find one of the eye stones on a beach, please take a picture and share it on social media, tagging Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to let them know and using the hashtag #SeeTheSignsSOS.
Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning said: “We know that people’s minds are rightly focussed on other international and national issues at the moment, but preventing child exploitation at all times is something that we prioritise in Southend-on-Sea.
“These stones are a visual reminder of the amount of varied professionals we have trained to see the signs and who know how to report any suspicions they have about potential child exploitation or county lines activity. If you are able to get outdoors at this time and come across one, please share a picture of it on your social media and help to spread the message that this type of crime will not be tolerated in our town”.
For more information about county lines and how children are exploited by such drug gangs, please see www.SeeTheSigns.org.uk. Information about any suspicion you may have of county lines activity can also be posted here, completely anonymously.
Eyes on child exploitation across Southend-on-Sea
The majority of public toilets within Southend-on-Sea are now closed until further notice as the council continues to take actions to help tackle the spread of Coronavirus.
As the council and its waste and recycling partner Veolia continue to review its services, many of the borough’s public toilets are now closed. This is to ensure staff can be re-deployed elsewhere whilst the toilets are not being used as residents stay at home. Public toilets in locations such as shopping districts and parks have also been closed as these areas are now seeing a drastic reduction in footfall.
Public toilets at a small number of key locations across the borough will remain open. This decision is being reviewed daily and will be adjusted as needed in light of further Government advice. Those that remain open are spread across the seafront from Shoeburyness to Leigh, as this area has been recognised as an area that has been used for daily exercise.
The following public toilets will be closed on Thursday 26 March until further notice:
All toilets in public parks – specifically Southchurch Hall Gardens, Southchurch Park, Priory Park, Belfairs Park and Shoebury Park
Chalkwell Park, London Road
Chalkwell Esplanade, Chalkwell
Dalmatia Road, Southchurch – near junction between Dalmatia Road and Southchurch Road
East Beach, Shoeburyness
Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea – between Rectory Grove and Broadway West
Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff – Hamlet Road Car Park near junction with London Road
Ness Road, Shoeburyness – junction with Ness Road and Campfield Road
Seaway, Southend-on-Sea – next to Seaway car Park and Lucy Road
Sutherland Boulevard, Leigh-on-Sea – at junction between Sutherland Boulevard and London Road
Thorpe Bay Corner, Thorpe Bay
A small number of public toilets will remain open at the current time
A small number of public toilets will remain open at the current time
Bell Wharf, Leigh-on-Sea
Crowstone, seafront near Chalkwell Avenue, Chalkwell
George Street, entrance to East Beach, Shoeburyness
Marine Parade, seafront near Kursaal
Shoebury Common, near uncle Toms cabin, Shoeburyness
Shorefields, seafront, near Arches Cafés, Westcliff-on-Sea
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “We have made the decision to close a number of our public toilets. As the Government has instructed residents to stay home other than for very specific circumstances, keeping the toilets open not only drains resources for cleaning and maintenance, but also promotes unnecessary travel. We are keeping a small number open.
“We must ensure we continue to listen to Government and Public Health England advice and guidance. The toilets that remain open are there in recognition that people can go out to exercise, but we are clear that anyone who is out needs to do this in line with the Government guidance.
They are also subject to quick closure as this situation evolves, so we will monitor them as we continue to adapt our services to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.”
Council staff are urging the public to be kind after a spate of recent attacks on council staff and contractors, including an incident where a cyclist rode into a council officer and broke his leg.
The incident took place in Southend High Street on Thursday 26 March when the cyclist rode straight at a community safety patrol officer. The incident was captured on CCTV and police are investigating.
It is the latest in a line of incidents where council officer’s including park groundskeepers, civil enforcement officers and community safety patrol officers, have also received verbal abuse, been spat at and pushed, by members of the public.
The work of those teams is therefore being reviewed daily, with an announcement on changes to parks maintenance expected soon.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer care, said: “This is unacceptable behaviour from certain individuals within our community. I hope the police are quick to catch the offending cyclist and any other perpetrators using the full force of the law to protect our workers.
“I understand that people staying home feel like other workers should not be on the streets, but our staff are simply doing their job as per the national guidance issued. They have been keeping the streets and parks safe and in good order, so our residents can continue to use them, whilst following the Government’s social distancing guidelines.
If you witness an attack on anyone please report this to the police, online at essex.police.uk or call 101. If the attack is ongoing and an emergency, dial 999.
150 different varieties of parakeets, parrots, cockatiels are missing after the aviary, which collapsed in a garden, in Crown Hill, Rayleigh. John Bedford said the aviary was an industry-style shelter and was bolted into a concrete base. He said"My mum has rescued these birds for years. "We've rescued eight so far. We can only get them if they land or come back to the garden. "We're really hopeful that the come back. My mum's been standing in the garden and one flew back and landed on her head.
"They trust her. They know her.
"It's really distressing because they can hear them and see them in the trees." John explained the dangers the birds could face, adding: "The parrots have half a chance to surviving. They are quite sturdy and can fight off bigger birds. "But the other the ones are quite vulnerable."They do eat normal bird seeds but some of them need specalist seeds." The family have launched an appeal on social media for homeowners in the Rochford district to come forward if they see one of the birds. To get in touch with John, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten council-owned car parks have been closed as the council continues to implement measures to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.
The Government announced on Monday that people should be staying at home, and gatherings of more than two people in public are prohibited. However, there have been a number of instances and reports of groups gathering and particularly around the seafront and in parks.
In plans to prevent this from happening, the council has now closed a number of car parks in hot spot locations:
Shoebury Common South
Shoebury Common North
University Square CP
Southchurch East CP
Gunner Park Car Park 1 & 2
Gas Works Car Park
Fairheads Green (next to the Sealife Centre)
Seaway car park will also be closed as of this evening.
This is in addition to the recent announcement that 1 hour parking restrictions had been lifted to promote staying at home, and also the scaling back of parking enforcement in all pay and display car parks and on-street parking bays.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, said: “Whilst the majority of residents have adhered to the Government instruction to stay at home other than in very specific circumstances, we have seen too many examples of people gathering in groups, particularly in the seafront area. This is unacceptable and we hope that closing these car parks will further discourage groups gathering in these hotspot areas, including parks.
“The national instruction has been crystal clear. We must stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. If you are out exercising or travelling to work, you must observe social distancing measures. I cannot stress enough the importance of following this. We must all stick together whilst we work through what is an incredibly difficult time. Failing to adhere to the restrictions put in place not only puts those and their families at risk, but also, the wider public.
“We have left some car parks open to support those shopping for essentials, and we continue to adapt to the ongoing outbreak, we will ensure we take the necessary steps to protect our residents.”
To find out which car parks are open, please check www.southend.gov.uk/directory/17/car_parking
Opening hours for all customers: Asda have temporarily reduced the normal opening hours of most stores to 8am to 8pm from Monday to
Saturday to ensure staff can clean and fully re-stock our shelves ready for customers.
Elderly and vulnerable people: All Tesco stores (except Express stores) will be prioritising the elderly and most vulnerable for one hour between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
NHS workers: Tesco has introduced a special hour in their large stores for NHS workers one hour before the usual store opening time every Sunday, and will be able to browse the store and select their shopping before the checkouts open. All Tesco ask is that they bring a form of ID with them to store, such as an NHS staff card.
Opening hours for all customers: On Monday, March 23, Sainsbury's changed the opening hours of all their supermarkets to 8am until 8pm from Monday to Saturday. With the exception of some stores in Scotland, Sunday opening hours will stay the same. Sainsbury’s Local and petrol station hours will stay the same.
Elderly and vulnerable people: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all Sainsbury's supermarkets will dedicate 8am until 9am to serving elderly customers, disabled customers and carers.
NHS workers: NHS and social care workers will be able to shop in Sainsbury's supermarkets for half an hour before they open, from Monday to Saturday. Anyone with NHS ID will be able to shop from 7.30am until 8.00am on these days.
NHS workers: Morrisons have an NHS hour at all their stores every day - taking place Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8am.
Opening hours for all customers: From Monday to Saturday, the German supermarket chain will be open between 8am and 8pm. Sunday opening hours remain the same - 10am to 4pm (or 6pm in Scotland).
Elderly and vulnerable people: The supermarket is opening an hour earlier than usual in order to let elderly customers do their shopping.
Elderly and vulnerable people: Iceland will open its supermarkets early for elderly customers to visit before stores open to the public. Each day, elderly shoppers can now visit between 8am - 9am to get their shopping first.
NHS workers: The final hour of trading Monday to Saturday will also be for NHS staff only.
NHS and emergency service workers: M&S announced it will give the first hour of every Tuesday and Friday morning to NHS and emergency service workers.
Elderly and vulnerable people: Waitrose have a prioritised and dedicated shopping hour every day. This is the first opening hour of the shop.
NHS workers plus elderly and vulnerable people: All Co-op stores have a dedicated shopping hour for our vulnerable customers, those that care for them and NHS workers.
This takes place from 8am to 9am Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 11am on Sundays in all Co-op stores.
police say they "removed" two youths from the play area at Chalkwell Park in Westcliff after strict Covid-19 lockdown rules were imposed by the Government.
Officers gave the youngsters "suitable advice" after they were told to leave. Most play areas have been closed by councils to stop groups gathering.Despite the lockdown, Essex Police are continuing to work steadfastly to maintain safety in our community and have been posting regular updates on social media. "The Government has introduced enforcement powers to allow police forces to deal with people who do not comply with sensible social distancing. The approach we are taking is to advise, explain and appeal to people to do the right thing, only using enforcement when it is absolutely necessary. We know most people in our county want to do the right thing, protect the NHS and ultimately save lives. "Enforcement will be a last resort.
The council is supporting the national effort to get food and supplies to our most vulnerable residents.
As part of this national effort to ensure vulnerable people are protected at this time, we have set up a distribution hub in Southend-on-Sea.
This weekend, food deliveries and medical supplies were delivered to over 170 of the most vulnerable people across the Borough thanks to the help of our amazing council staff, local supermarkets, local volunteers, and parking enforcement officers from APCOA, who provided cars, vans and mopeds to make this happen. A further release will be issued today with more details.
The work is part of the Essex Resilience Forum (ERF) - made up of all public sector organisations in the county – which is tasked with ensuring that people with the most serious health conditions across Essex, Southend and Thurrock are shielded from social contact for 12 weeks during the peak of the epidemic. These people have been contacted already by the NHS and offered food package deliveries.
Who else is getting support?
Given the importance of social distancing and the most at risk being able to stay in their homes, public and voluntary sector resources across the county are also providing assistance to a larger group. These are residents who are also vulnerable during the peak of the epidemic, and include residents over the age of 70 or pregnant women, and who do not have the support of friends, family or neighbours.
These residents will be contacted by their GP surgeries from Monday March 30th by text message.
Updates will be posted on our website www.southend.gov.uk/coronavirus and via social media
The latest advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the Public Health England (PHE) and NHS websites or via www.southend.gov.uk/coronavirus