Maintenance and improvement works are to take place in the lawn graves area at Sutton Road cemetery from Monday 8 March 2021.
Ahead of this, people who own graves in the lawn grave section of Sutton Road Cemetery are being asked to make sure any memorabilia or other items left at the graves are in accordance with the cemetery regulations and their burial rights agreement, and to take home any items not permitted by the end of January 2021.
Permitted memorials for lawn graves include a headstone, plaque, vase or book, which may be placed at the head of the grave. Flowers can also be placed on the plinth at the top of the grave.
As lawn graves, no other items should be placed on the graves. This is to ensure maintenance and grass cutting of the lawn grave area can take place safely, and to maintain the safety of staff and visitors. Lawn graves also need to remain free of items so that staff can access new plots with large machinery to dig new graves without damaging those already in place.
Ahead of the maintenance works taking place to ensure the cemetery remains clean, tidy and safe for all visitors, grave owners are being asked to collect any unpermitted items or memorabilia from their graves by Sunday 31 January 2021.
Any personal mementoes and memorabilia not collected will be stored for four weeks. Unfortunately, due to limited storage other items such as frames, fences, concrete surrounds, and loose chippings will be disposed of. Any personal items not collected within four weeks will need to be disposed of. This does not include the area for child graves or traditional full-length graves, just the lawn grave area of the cemetery where maintenance works is taking place.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “We understand that this is a very challenging time for everyone, and that any time work is carried out in the vicinity of a loved one’s grave it is very sensitive and can be upsetting.
“We also know that it will upset people for us to ask them to remove items from lawn graves. This is a very difficult situation but unfortunately, we now have many examples of where full graves have been created with surrounds for example, in an area of the cemetery which is set over for headstones and lawn only. The creation of full graves also restricts access for our staff to be able to maintain and cut the lawn area and get heavy machinery into these areas to dig new lawn graves.
“There is never a good time to ask people to do this, but we also wanted to give people as much notice as possible, and so signage was put up at the end of October to give people three months’ notice of this, and we will also be writing to grave owners who we have contact details for. Ahead of the planned works, and to allow us to be able to carry out this work properly and safely and ensure the cemetery regulations are being adhered to, we are asking families and grave owners to please take home any items that are not meant to be there by the end of January.
“I say again that we really do understand this is a difficult and sensitive situation, and so if anyone has any concerns or questions about what can and can’t be left on a lawn grave, please do contact the team who will offer support and guidance regarding this.”
For more information please visit the cemetery information page on our website and the lawn graves maintenance works page on our website.
Nearly 2 kilograms of illegal rolling tobacco and 9,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized as part of a joint operation between Southend Trading Standards and Essex Police.
The premises, based on London Road, was visited by trading standards officers and officers from Essex Police, on Thursday 19 November, and saw 9000 illegal cigarettes and 1.7 kilograms of illegal tobacco seized, with a total commercial value of over five thousand pounds.
The excellent partnership work lead to a raid being carried out following information given by the public that individuals connected to the shop were continuing to sell cigarettes and tobacco from vehicles parked close by. Those individuals were also patrolling London Road and were serving customers from supplies stored in the shop.
The owner of the business will be told they will face prosecution by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, said: “This is a large haul from our officers and is a great example of partnership working between trading standards officers and Essex Police. Thanks to the members of the public that alerted the team to this, a large quantity of dangerous and illegal tobacco products are off our streets.
“Smokers are putting their lives at an even greater risk smoking illicit tobacco products due to the many additional ingredients that can be found in them, including rat droppings, dead insects and asbestos.
“We hope this serves a stark reminder that we will not just sit back whilst the public are being put at risk. We will continue to find and destroy any illegal tobacco products we find, and we will also push for large fines to those involved in the sale of these products. I urge anyone who has information about the selling or storing of illicit tobacco to report it to us in confidence.”
Sgt James Mint, of the Essex Police Southend Town Centre team, said: “We are committed to working with the council to deal robustly with crime in our district.
“Illegal and counterfeit cigarettes can be extremely dangerous and people selling these items are completely irresponsible.
“If you have any information about counterfeit items being sold, please contact the council, Essex Police or alternatively, Crimestoppers anonymously."
Residents of Southend-on-Sea are being asked for their thoughts on plans for the first phase of the £500m Better Queensway regeneration scheme.
Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP has launched a consultation on this first proposed phase of development, asking questions relating to new computer-generated images (CGIs) and artist sketches of the homes and buildings planned, as well as how a new Porter’s Park, central community concierge, outdoor communal spaces and rooms inside the homes could look.
The first phase of the proposed development consists of over 400 homes, as well as ground floor uses including potential artist’s studios, a cafe and a convenience store. Phase 1 building work would start on the site of Quantock tower - which would be demolished once residents have moved into their new homes - and the temporary Essex Street car park.
The views will feed into the planning application for phase one and follows submission of the ‘hybrid’ planning application, which establishes the principle of regenerating the area and the overall masterplan, as well as the details of the highway changes.
Over the lifetime of the project, Porters Place LLP will submit a number of further planning applications for the various phases of development. All the planning applications will be determined by the Councils’ Development Control Committee.
Geoff Pearce, Chair of the Porters Place Southend-on-Sea LLP Board and Deputy Chief Executive of Swan Housing Association, said:
“At the first consultation, we asked residents what their priorities were in creating great places that they can call home. They told us that these were the outside space, the communal areas and the living space. We’ve since worked closely with the Residents Steering Group through four workshops, to ensure that they have both influenced these plans and are confident that these materials will be clear and understandable to local people.
“I think that the consultation undertaken so far shows that we are listening to residents about what they want from the regeneration. Now we want to know if our more detailed plans meet or even exceed their expectations, as we await the determination of the ‘hybrid planning application’ and prepare for the next stage. I am delighted to continue to move this exciting project forward. It is set to transform the local community and make a real difference in improving people’s lives.”
Residents on the Queensway estate have already been informed of the consultation and how they can give their feedback. To find out more about the project and the consultation visit www.betterqueensway.co.uk
Number of Southend-on-Sea venues to re-open this week
Leisure and cultural venues will reopen this week following the Government’s announcement of the national tier system.
Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, Southend Pier, Central Museum, the Beecroft Gallery and the Borough’s libraries are among the places set to welcome back members of the public from Wednesday 2 December, as the town enters Tier 2 high level restrictions.
The council announced in November that leisure centres and tourism and cultural venues were to close in line with the national restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday 31 October. The latest government advice states that leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools can reopen from Wednesday 2 December. Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre will reopen, however Chase Sports and Fitness Centre and Shoeburyness Leisure Centre, which are all managed by Fusion Lifestyle, will remain closed to the public, but will be available for school use as before. Belfairs Swim Centre remains closed, and Belfairs golf course will also re-open to golfers on Wednesday.
Southend Pier will welcome visitors back from 11.15am Wednesday, returning to normal opening hours from Thursday, and residents who booked tickets to see Santa on the Pier have been told they will be able to attend as planned. The Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre will remain closed for the time being, although the coffee shop at the Cliffs Pavilion will reopen.
The Borough’s libraries, which have provided an essential home delivery and click and collect service throughout the recent restrictions, will also open their doors for browsing once again. Click and collect and the home library service will also continue.
The town’s museums and art galleries will also start to reopen, and visitors to museums, galleries and libraries must wear face coverings when inside, unless medically exempt.
The following venues in the Borough will reopen from Wednesday 2 December:
Southend Central Museum will re-open on Wednesday 2 December
Prittlewell Priory visitor centre will re-open on Wednesday 2 December
Focal Point Gallery will re-open on Wednesday 2 December
Cliffs Pavilion coffee shop will re-open on Wednesday 2 December
Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre will re-open on Wednesday 2 December
Prittlewell Priory will re-open on Saturday 5 December.
Southchurch Hall will re-open on Saturday 5 December
Beecroft Gallery will re-open on Saturday 12 December
“Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “As the Borough prepares to enter Tier 2 restrictions, I am pleased to announce that we will be able to reopen some of our much-loved cultural venues and centres which will be an important boost at this time.
“Our residents have risen to the challenge of the recent restrictions, which means we are in a position to reopen these public services for residents and visitors to enjoy. If we continue to adhere to Government guidance, then we can help keep the R number and local positive cases down in Southend-on-Sea.
“Other venues including libraries and Focal Point Gallery will also reopen, but with measures in place to ensure visitors and staff are kept safe and well.
“I know that this will be welcome news to many of our residents who can once again visit and explore Southend’s rich cultural heritage, in a time when we all appreciate the little things in life that bit more. We will continue to monitor Government guidance and will continue to communicate any changes to our services with our residents.”
For more information about closures and changes to council services, please visit www.southend.gov.uk/affectedservices
Two Southend-on-Sea primary schools are supporting the Council with an innovative scheme aimed at promoting active travel and improving air quality near our schools.
School Streets is a new pilot scheme which restricts access to motor vehicles on the road outside the two pilot primary schools – Greenways and Leigh North Street - during school drop-off and pick-up times throughout school term time.
School traffic and through traffic will not be allowed during these times, but school staff will be able to access the schools, and residents that live within the restricted area have been supplied with permit stickers to allow access. The council trained school staff – known as School Street Marshals - to deploy and collect the School Street barriers and follow strict health and safety training.
The idea behind the scheme is to reduce carbon emissions being omitted from motor vehicles outside of schools and to promote other forms of active travel, such as cycling or walking to school.
The experimental traffic regulation order came into effect Monday 23 November and will be in operation Monday to Friday between 8:15am – 9:15am and 2:30pm – 3:30pm at Greenways, and 8:30am – 9:30am and 2:30pm – 3:30pm at North Street, term time only, for the next 12 months.
This initiative is being funded through the Department for Transport (DfT) Emergency Active Travel Funding.
Two further primary schools will also start up the scheme in January following detailed assessments, with further announcements to be made in the coming weeks. The council has adopted a staggered approach to the launch of this scheme to ensure all schools involved have suitable support for their respective launches.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, said: “The School Streets project will not only encourage active travel such as cycling and walking and result in a safer, healthier and more pleasant environment for all, but will also allow more space for safe social distancing.
“We will be piloting outside these two schools for the next 12 months to allow us to see the impact throughout the various seasons of the year. Our hope is to roll this out to other schools if the pilot proves successful. It is important to note that this scheme is only viable on residential roads, so as not to have a huge impact on traffic flow in and out of the town at busy times.
“I am confident these schools will see the benefits of this project, and I look forward to seeing the impact this will have on air quality in the areas over the coming months.”
The roads involved are Greenways, Southend-on-Sea and North Street, Leigh-on-Sea. Roads will be coned off and martialled by trained School Street Marshals.
A “Herculean” response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more than 80% of former rough sleepers being placed in permanent homes.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s housing solutions and homelessness teams have worked tirelessly since the Government announced on 23 March 2020 that all rough sleepers needed to be accommodated.
After housing 138 rough sleepers into temporary accommodation throughout lockdown, and working with charities and partner agencies to provide meals, medicines, clothing and support, thoughts immediately turned to the ongoing support following the easing of restrictions.
Now more than 80% of former rough sleepers are in more permanent tenancies with ongoing support in place.
Following Government guidance, emergency night shelters for rough sleepers will only open this winter as a last resort and in consultation with Public Health. Instead we have launched our ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ project which involves:
Providing single COVID-safe rooms, with individual washing facilities available via HARP.
Employing a housing solution officer specifically to carry out rapid assessments for accommodation pathways for rough sleepers.
Providing former rough sleepers with lessons in life-enhancing skills, such as cooking.
And additional training for our staff.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council with a responsibility for housing, said: “Our housing solutions and homelessness teams have worked 24/7 to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of rough sleepers, so much so that we are pleased to announce that more than 80% of former rough sleepers with a Southend connection, are now living in permanent accommodation.
“This is such a positive position, we are concentrating our efforts on maintaining the excellent outcomes achieved by continuing to provide support to former rough sleepers and finding homes for those who remain in temporary accommodation but still wish to be housed permanently.”
The ‘My Property to Let’ campaign highlighted more than 300 homes, which has increased our housing solutions portfolio. While those former rough sleepers who no longer need high level support were moved to alternative accommodation with ‘floating’ support, which is there when the person needs it.
Multi-disciplinary teams of support have been introduced, including mental health outreach workers, in addition to our multi-agency outreach worker teams, plus continuous GP support services to address health needs.
On the 24th June 2020 the Government announced an additional £105 million rough sleeper Covid-19 funding for England, known as The Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP). This funding was to be used to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness into tenancies of their own, including help with deposits for accommodation, and securing thousands of alternative rooms already available and ready for use, such as student accommodation.
Southend was allocated £313,846 for immediate and short term needs to cover B&B accommodation and EU national’s placement, as we support them with eligibility status or reconnection to their home country.
In a letter of thanks, Cllr Gilbert praises the “Herculean effort” of the council, organisations, charities and volunteers involved with homelessness.
He added: “I am incredibly proud of the teamwork, effort and commitment displayed by everyone involved in this achievement. The Council coordinated a response and created a heartfelt local community response to a national health crisis.
“Our officers and outreach teams continue to work hard to support the homeless community, and I would like to remind the public that the homeless person you may see every morning will be known to authorities and we will be working with them. Accepting help requires trust and sometimes that can take a little time to build up, in order to be convinced the offer being made is genuine.
“There is a unique story behind every person who is sleeping rough and rough sleeping is very much the extreme end of homelessness. We continue to do all we can to help rough sleepers off the streets of Southend.”
If you are concerned about a particular rough sleeper, who is over 18, visit www.streetlink.org.uk
If you are concerned about a rough sleeper who is under 18, please call 999.
A new study of rats in Southend-on-Sea has uncovered that 74% carry a resistance gene, making them potentially immune to current pest control methods. This together with a 25% increase in the rat population (now 385,131) due to lockdown means without a cold winter, 2021 may well be the Year of the Rat!
“It’s very worrying because this ‘hybrid-resistance’ means that some common rodenticides simply won’t work to control rat numbers, this together with a bumper breeding year means that Southend-on-Sea is in for a heck of a ride in 2021 if we don’t have a very, very cold winter”, explains Jenny Rathbone from Southend-on-Sea Pest Control Company Pest.co.uk
The 2019-20 Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use survey of rats showed that 74% of rats in Southend-on-Sea carried a resistance gene to popular rodenticides, and even more worrying in some locations in the UK, 20% have two different genes, making them super resistant.
“Although one such rat was found in 2017, this is the first time in the UK that ‘hybrid-resistance’ has been found on this scale, with potentially unknown difficulties for pest rodent control,” says Dr Buckle of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use. “This is happening because different resistance foci, that were once separate, are now merging and interbreeding.
Conditions this year have created a “perfect storm” for breeding rats with lockdown causing a 25% increase in the population of rats in Southend-on-Sea, with many people reporting seeing rats out in the open for the first time.
“This year has been very challenging for pest controllers in Southend-on-Sea with an increase of 25% in the population thanks to lockdown plus a shift in where rats are looking for food and shelter – the news that interbreeding is causing a resistance to the bait and poison we use to control infestations is very worrying for next year”, explains Rathbone.
The population of rats in Southend-on-Sea is now thought to be 385,131, up 25% from 2019.
This news is worrying for some homeowners in Southend-on-Sea where rat numbers have grown. A very cold, sharp winter would help to reduce numbers of rats.
“The best deterrent I can recommend is removing all sources of food – bird feed is the worst at this time of year as bird lovers over stock bird tables, this high energy food is like a Michelin starred meal to rodents”, says Rathbone.
Pest.co.uk is issuing the following advice to anyone worried about rats in their home:
Block up holes – Fill any gaps in brickwork, shed doors and any holes on external walls of your home including cellars and attics
Clear cupboards – Empty unused cupboards of bags, clothes, rags and keep them clean
Secure all food sources – Make sure food is not left out, tidy away any open food sources and keep worktops and floors clean of crumbs
Prepare traps – by leaving out rat traps you can pre-empt any future infestation, however it is better to bait with official rat poison than leaving food scraps out – if in doubt get expert advice on the type of bait to use
“Without a very cold winter, we will be entering 2021 with huge numbers of breeding rats carrying a new resistance due to interbreeding to common pest control methods, it’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure!”, concludes Jenny Rathbone from Pest.co.uk
An extra £3.6m is set to be spent on children’s and adult social care in 2021/22.
The proposals will be discussed as part of the council’s draft budget for (Cabinet, Thursday 14th January 2021).
Spending proposals in summary include:
£1.5m to support adult social care providers, improving the pay and conditions of the workforce and improving the quality of local care
£480,000 to meet the care needs of an ageing local population
£350,000 for supporting those with a learning disability to move from children's to adult services
£590,000 to support an increase in numbers of looked after children requiring external care placements.
£500,000 for leaving care accommodation and to support those aged 16 and over due to an increase in looked after children numbers
£210,000 will be added to the budget for children and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) service due to a reduction in funding from the dedicated schools grant (DSG)
£150,000 to help drive recruitment of in-house foster carers, increase the quality of the inhouse foster care offer and therefore reduce long term demand for external care placements.
£50,000 to support Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) that have been made by the courts in favour of kinship carers. When a looked after child that is placed with a kinship carer (normally relative or family friend) and an SGO is made, the local authority is statutorily required to provide financial assistance for a transitional period of 2 years to support the Special Guardianship carers. This new investment will enable up to 25 child cases to be supported each year.
£25,000 To fund school unform grants for eligible children under exceptional circumstances
Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, says: “There continues to be an increase on the demand for the most vulnerable and I am pleased that we are proposing to allocate this extra funding to provide the best services we can in these areas.
“With the increase of young people being taken into care we need to ensure that there is financial support to cover the cost of the extra placements, ensure that the local quality of care is always improving and make sure we can continue to look after the most vulnerable in our community.
“I am also particularly pleased to see the proposed reintroduction of the school uniform grant which will be available to families in exceptional circumstances and will help those most in need, such as those who have been supported to get temporary accommodation and have had to move school as a result.”
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, says: “I am delighted that we are able to propose this extra investment to provide much needed support in Adult social care.
“This will help to meet the increasing demand on social care services and an ageing population, allowing our residents to remain in their own homes with a domiciliary care package if they are able for example, and for those who have greater care need to be accommodated in suitable residential care.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 14th January, the council’s three scrutiny committees at the start of February, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at Full Council on Thursday 25th February.