In addition to existing schemes already ongoing or planned, this would give the council a capital investment programme of £177m for the next four year period, including over £18m of investment into the Pier, £26.3m investment into improving roads and pavements, £3m for community safety improvements and £1.2m on parks and open spaces.
An additional £36.5m worth of new projects are also included in the draft programme, but will be subject to external funding and detailed and viable business cases being prepared and approved, including up to £20m for commercial property purchases over the next three years, £10.5m for a new pavilion deck on the end of the pier and £1m for the refurbishment of the Cliffs Pavilion in summer 2020.
The capital budget, which is separate to the council’s day to day revenue budget, is used to make one-off investments in things like regeneration and housing projects, and to carry out essential improvements to leisure and cultural facilities and ICT systems. Funding is raised from a mixture of external funding, reserves and borrowing.
The proposals for new projects include £3.25m over the next two years to replace ageing Pier trains which were introduced in 1986 with a predicted 20 year lifespan and an additional £3m over three years to fix more pavements and roads.
Safety measures are also a big new investment, with a further £2m proposed to continue to upgrade the borough’s CCTV system and install new cameras in key locations following a recent consultation.
A new children’s residential care home, new public toilet provision, better traffic management and car park improvements are some of the other projects highlighted for new investment in the draft budget.
Over £20m is also being added to the capital programme from 2021 to 2024 for investment in the council housing stock, which will be funded through the housing revenue account (HRA).
Cllr James Courtenay, Deputy Leader of the Council, says: “Capital and revenue budgets are two entirely different things and we have a duty to fund essential things like ensuring we can look after our most vulnerable residents, and also ensure that facilities like the Pier and Cliffs Pavilion, which are a source of pride and joy for so many, are invested in and safeguarded for the future. Financially we have tightened our belts, but this must not be to the detriment of our future vision for Southend-on-Sea and our plans must remain bold and ambitious.
“The resident and stakeholder led ambition document Southend 2050, has helped us identify the type of town our residents and stakeholders want to see. With feedback from more than 35,000 people, it helps us to focus both on the work that is needed now, but also over the next few years, to help make those ambitions a reality.
“This can be seen with more investment in things that are important to people in the here and now, including fixing more roads and pavements, investing in more public toilet provision in the seafront area, and ensuring our housing stock is up to decent homes standard, but also looking to the future with investment in the Pier and the Bell junction for example.
“The proposals in this draft capital budget will make a real difference to important local facilities and infrastructure and shows that we are open for business and here to do the very best for local people and businesses.”
If all external funding and viable business cases are approved, then the capital investment programme could be £229m for the period of 2019/20 to 2023/24.
Other investment within the capital programme and already allocated includes £12.7m for the ongoing secondary schools expansion programme, £24.8m for the continued development of Airport Business Park Southend, £11.5m for the delivery of a new 60 bedroom care facility and day centre and £1.3m for the continued construction of affordable housing on housing land.
There will also be a business and voluntary sector budget consultation event on Thursday 17 January at Holiday Inn, Eastwoodbury Crescent starting at 8.30am (registration from 7.30am). This will give local businesses and stakeholders the opportunity to hear an insight of the 2019/20 budget.