The programme would help to deliver a number of objectives, including additional secondary spaces for local children and improvements to local facilities and infrastructure. The new projects proposed include:
- £10.9m to redevelop the Civic Centre East car park with up to 52 new homes, and the reconstruction of the former library car park in Victoria Avenue, potentially creating up to 245 more spaces in that area.
- £8m for additional secondary school places via the conversion of PROCAT and Wentworth sites and partial expansions of other schools. This is in addition to £10m already identified in previous capital programme budgets. Government capital grant funding is expected to cover this, but is subject to confirmation.
- £8m to continue the completion of the Decent Homes programme in 2019/20 and carry out energy efficiency and health and safety works funded through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) major repairs allowance.
- £4m for highways and footway improvements (£1m each year to 2019/20) across the Borough and in addition to £2.8m already identified
- £1.98m for non-structural Pier works and improvements to decking, lamp columns, electrics, shelters and toilets in addition to £2.65m identified for structural works in last year’s capital programme.
Cllr Ron Woodley, Leader of the Council, said: “In such tough economic times, we must be careful what we decide to invest in and in austere times we cannot and will not waste time and resources on ‘vanity projects.’
“However we must also remain ambitious, move with the times, innovate, encourage investment into the Borough and look to the future.
“That is why we are proposing that we invest in essential things like ensuring that we have enough secondary school places in 2017 and 2018, the famous pier, road and pavement improvements, rebuilding a town centre car park, and vital ICT and software improvements to ensure we remain a modern business and workforce.
“I am committed more than ever to reducing the planned amount of council borrowing, so wherever possible these projects will bring income into the council or are simply unavoidable. Despite the austere times this gives us an impressive capital budget to make a 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.”
Further proposed projects include:
- £1.5m to undertake reinstatement and stabilisation works to the Belton Hills steps in Leigh-on-Sea following ground movement
- £1.5m to progress the New Museum project and move it to the technical design phase and tendering of the ground and first floors, which will include a new central seafront car park
- £1.4m to be invested in theatres, museums, shelters and leisure centres to ensure they remain safe and operational (in addition to £969K already budgeted)
- £1.385m on core ICT infrastructure and software improvements that are vital to ensure the council remains a modern and productive business
- £1m to enable the council to buy any commercial properties in Southchurch Road if they become available, to help deliver the Better Queensway project.
- £960K to install solar PV panels on the roofs of Southend Hospital, Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre and the Cliffs Pavilion. Local operators would be charged for energy consumed and provide them with savings, with the council receiving an income from a Feed-in-Tariff. A further £750K has been set aside for small scale energy efficiency projects such as those already completed at Temple Sutton school
- £380K to install monitoring equipment and carry out ground investigation along Cliff Parade and the cliff slip area to mitigate against any further slips
- £370K to replace the ageing Pergola Walk at the Southend Crematorium
- £600K to ensure the delivery of the Three Shells Lagoon project by Summer 2016
- £280K for the replacement of play equipment and 86 gates within play areas.
Of the proposed new investment, £10.3m would be seen in 2016/17, giving a total capital programme of £65.6m in 2016/17 and £177.6m over the next four years.
The Council will consider the proposals at the following meetings:
19th January Budget Cabinet meeting
25th to 28th January Scrutiny Committees debate budget proposals
11th February Second budget Cabinet meeting
25th February Full Council meeting (to set budget and council tax)