Southend-on-Sea Viewpoint #01

Viewpoint is a series of comments on the town of Southend by its residents.

The following article was supplied to us in August 2006 by a local Southender:


Southend… What a place! I know it’s not all bad…

I’ve lived in Southend all my life and have seen many changes over the last thirty years plus. Sometimes people mention old shops, facilities and attractions and unwittingly I start to reminisce about other associated elements of the period or area. Like when people ask you what happened to the children’s play shells outside Argos and then I ask myself: “Yeah! And what happened to the Lobster as well… and that was when Argos wasn’t a superstore, and we only had one in the Southend area…” The list goes on.

The thing is, change is sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst, to quote the cliché, but one must say that all that is happening to Southend is, in my opinion, only a reflection of what is going on in the country as a whole. The generation in charge is: Badly Motivated? Inexperienced? Misdirected? Scared? Corrupt? Stupid? Stubborn? Greedy? etc … The question is why? And how does this affect us?

Well, let us think about the concept of looking after our Southend and the latest… the troubles with the local council (See Evening Echo). How can this happen? We all pay our taxes. Unless of course, this is a ghost town, because whether or not someone visits a museum in Southend, it’s irrelevant to its success financially, the local taxes pay for it year in, year out. Now, if there is no need for the museum or facility, nothing to display, or less than a certain percentage of the local population visiting or utilising it a year, then an executive decision needs to be made with regard to the financial implications of it remaining in its current form. This is where relevant knowledge, experience, guidance and judgments must be made.

I’ve observed many questionable decisions in recent years – for example, who decided the High Street needed to be re-developed?

Did it?

High Street 2006
Who decided on the design and materials?  The bricks are not very helpful for parents with push chairs unless their children need a good shake, although that will probably classed as some sort of child abuse (instigated by the local council laying an inappropriate surface).

Why was it not thought through?

Obviously, many seconds where spent over the implications of having a new pavement laid down the length of the High Street… you know, ensuring that all the services would be accommodated in the build, i.e. water, gas, electricity etc … You know just to make sure the whole process, or should I say “hole process” which is pretty much what the High Street turned into, a series of holes, would be as seem less as possible causing as little disruption to both the locals and visitors alike. For instance no local council would let such work take place mid-summer with all the tourists, or mid-winter with the Christmas shoppers wanting as much is possible “a pleasurable shopping experience”… surely?

Has it helped the local population, or the Southend tourist industry? To answer a question, with a question… Has the period of inconvenience and disruptions outweighed the benefits? And when will they stop? To me, Southend seems to be a victim of the latest reign of incompetence. Good shops come and go, not so good shops come and stay. Good ideas for the development of the town are missed for all the wrong reasons, other council decisions are ill-advised, possibly resulting in a suffering from a lack of love from the main governing body. Could it be because important decision-makers may have other considerations ahead of making Southend a good place to live and work?

That said, there are still some real polished shinning gems in this otherwise tarnished, discoloured town. Venues that hold a lot of promise depending on your age or interests exists restaurants, clubs, bars, sports, theatre, gambling and a variety of scenery, for within 3-7 miles of Southend you can go from a busy town centre to a quaint little fishing village or drive through country lanes back to the seedier flashing lights, arcades and video games. I feel that to say that Southend has a rich culture would be a little too generous, but it certainly has more than a vague whiff of history, what with Southend Pier, over one hundred years old, the local Priory building, Southchurch Hall and the recent televised excavation of “The King of Bling” – the discovery of a Saxon King, as well as other historical land marks including Hadleigh Castle. All these are within driving distance of Southend.

Basically Southend has been a good place to grow up but I feel that the people who have made it so are those who are dedicated to their business whilst still identifying on the effect it will have on the local area “Southenders”. I know of a local nightclub owner who used to care about not only his business and his customers but also the fact that although he had other clubs in other places, his “baby” was always his club in Southend, so much so that to the clubbing age group, it was synonymous with Southend. I heard several reports of people being on holiday in a variety of countries and meeting up with fellow English people, and when asked where they came from, replied Southend-on-Sea, were told “Oh yes I know it – home of the Pier, Kursaal and Tots”. Okay so it was the guy’s business… but if the town were full of businesses as keen and dedicated, this would put Southend on the map of brilliance.


We’d like to thank the submitter of this article, who wishes to remain anonymous. If you’d like to comment on this, we’d love to hear from you in our forum.

We’ll be adding further viewpoints to this site soon. If you’re interested in sending in a viewpoint, please contact us.


Comments expressed in ViewPoint do not necessarily reflect the views of the team, and are published in good faith.

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