Southend-on-Sea is a seaside resort and unitary authority area in the East of England. Southend-on-Sea, which has Borough status, is part of the ceremonial county of Essex and is located on the north side of the Thames estuary roughly 40 miles (65 km) east of central London. It is bordered to the north by Rochford and to the west by Castle Point. Southend is twinned with the Polish seaside resort of Sopot.
With the decline of traditional British sea-side resorts, from the 1960s onwards much of the centre of Southend was developed as a centre of commerce, and many of the original features of this once-attractive Victorian seaside town were destroyed through redevelopment or neglect. H.M. Revenue & Customs (HMRC), (formerly H.M. Customs and Excise), are major employers in the town, and the central offices for the collection of VAT are located there. Southend recently opened the new University of Essex, Southend, aimed at boosting the town's flagging economy.
There are nine railway stations within the Borough boundary serving the many Southend residents who commute to work in London.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Southend on Sea became a district of Essex with borough status, however in 1998 it again became the single tier of local government when it became a unitary authority.
There are currently 17 wards each returning three councillors, making a total of 51. Councillors serve a four year term and are elected by thirds (i.e. one third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without election). Following the 2007 local elections and a 2007 by-election, the composition is:
Alliance Southend was formed when two independent councillors from Westborough Ward were joined by Roger and Verina Weaver - two councillors who left the Conservative Party. The latter two are no longer members of the Council and two new Independents have been elected. The total of 4 Independents now have formed a group called Independents Alliance 4 Southend.
The town's coat-of-arms bears the motto 'Per Mare Per Ecclesiam' which translates into 'By the Sea and By the Church', reflecting Southend's historic position between the Church at Prittlewell and the sea as in the Thames estuary.
Southend Borough Council was strongly criticised in a damning report as being one of the worst financially managed local authorities in England by the independent Audit Commission annual report for the 2006/7 financial year, being only one of three councils to gain only one out of four stars, the others being Liverpool and the Isles of Scilly. Areas of criticism were the use of highly paid consultants and the spending of £3.5 million on taxis during the 2006/7 financial year.
Since the 2005 General Election the MP for Southend East and nearby Rochford has been James Duddridge (Conservative), who replaced the long serving MP Sir Teddy Taylor. Despite its name the majority of the constituency is in Southend, Rochford makes up only a small part and the majority of Rochford District Council is actually represented by the MP for Rayleigh. Both seats are considered to be "safe seats" for the Conservative Party.
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The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, known as the Fenchurch Street line, is currently operated by c2c and runs from Shoeburyness in the east of the borough, west through Thorpe Bay, Southend East, Southend Central to Fenchurch Street in London via Benfleet and Basildon or Tilbury and Barking. Additionally, two services from Southend Central each weekday evening terminate at Liverpool Street.
Southend Transport (more recently Arriva) operated a coach service to Victoria Coach Station under the Greenline brand; this is now run by Stephensons of Essex, but was withdrawn on July 11, 2008. There is also a National Express coach service (route 305) to Liverpool, which operates daily.
Currently the College offers over thirty degree courses matriculated by the University of Essex. The university's centre in the town is currently a single building on the High Street The University, however, has built its own centre in Southend, located next to the new College building on the site of the old Odeon cinema. These buildings form the first two phases of the Southend Campus. The University notes that 'South Essex is probably the largest conurbation in the country without a significant higher education presence'. This development will change this.
The Kursaal was one of the earliest theme parks, built at the start of the 20th century. It closed in the 1970s and much of the land was developed as housing. The entrance hall, a listed building, is now a bowling alley arcade (operated by Megabowl) and casino.
Another newer theme park, Adventure Island, developed on land formerly occupied by Peter Pan's Playground, straddles the pier entrance. It is a popular attraction for both adults and children, and despite a restriction on available land has continued to grow into a large amusement park with over 50 rides. The sea-front also houses a "Sea-Life Centre" aquarium.
The cliff gardens, which included Never Never Land, and Victorian bandstand were a popular attraction until slippage in 2003 made parts of the cliffs unstable, and the bandstand has been removed for safe keeping. The council has expressed its desire to re-erect the bandstand but a suitable location has yet to be found.
A modern cliff lift links the base of the High Street with the new pier entrance. The older cliff lift, a short funicular railway, is located a few hundred metres away, now closed because structural and mechanical work needs to be done in order to meet European Union Legislation which classes it as a cablecar.
In August the Southend Carnival is opened along the Golden Mile with the lighting of the Southend Illuminations which continue until November. (The Council authorities decided that due to the need for repair to meet Health & Safety requirements, and funding issues, the Illuminations would not be held in 2007 and 2008).
On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, Southend hosts one of the busiest farmers markets in the county.
The Cliffs Pavilion is a large building and is able to host different forms of show including musical concerts, and performances on ice.
The most recent theatre is the New Empire Theatre. It is, unlike the other two theatres, privately owned. It is used far more by amateur dramatic groups. The theatre was converted from the former ABC Cinema, which itself was originally a theatre, built in 1896. Therefore, as well as being Southend's newest theatre, it is arguably the oldest as well.
The Edwardian era Palace Theatre is a grade II listed building built in 1912. It shows plays from professional troupes and repertory groups, as well as some comedy acts. The theatre has two circles and is noted for having the steepest rake in Britain. Part of the theatre was a smaller venue called "The Dixon Studio". This was used for more intimate performances.
There are 2 rugby clubs in town with a nationwide profile, Southend R.F.C. and Westcliff R.F.C., with Southend having the superior men's first team (playing in National Division 2) but Westcliff having the more developed youth set up.
County Cricket is played at Southend by Essex County Cricket Club for one week during the season. Previously the festival was held at Southchurch Park, but it has now moved to a newer facility at Garon Park. That aside, the only cricket in Southend is local league Cricket.
Southends 8 lane, floodlit, synthetic athletics track at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre is the home ground to Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club. The facilities include all track and field events. More information on Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club can be found below:
Southend is also known for its varied and thriving electronic music scene. The town has well established nights and venues at both the commercial and underground ends of the spectrum. The biggest underground music venue in Southend is the 3 floor Royal Hotel which hosts nights such as PshFWD, Wobble, Mata Boo Boo and Telephasic featuring house, techno, dubstep, breaks and electro. Also the Sunrooms which champions all aspects of creative music.
On the 31st of March 2008, a local radio station, Southend Radio started broadcasting on 105.1FM from studios adjacent to the Adventure Island theme park. The station won its licence to broadcast in April 2006, beating three competitors.
Sea Front for All (Seafa), as a Civil Society Group, Continues Its Watchdog Role on Public Open Space at Sea Point's Beachfront. We All Need to Be Aware That Although We Won Our Case in Court against the Proposed Development, the Proposal Call Originally Put out by the Council 12 Years Ago Has Not Been Resolved. It Is Still on the Table
Sep 20, 2011; Sea Front for All (Seafa), as a civil society group, continues its watchdog role on public open space at Sea Point's beachfront....