More on Place, and People scrutiny
January 30, 2015 1 Comment
I attended two scrutiny committees this week: Place and People. I have written already about the item on the Shoebury flood defences (and there is more to come on this subject). I attempt here to briefly summarise the other highlights.
The Tory visitors (Cllrs J Garston and Lamb) tried to make hay with the car park charges increases during Monday’s Place meeting. I pointed out that they appear to have very short memories. The Tories tried to extend charging, a few years ago, to 9pm – and had to backtrack after howls of protest. Cllr J Garston also queried the two different sets of fees that applied to residents’ permits, depending on which scheme they were in; I reminded him that this two-tier system was introduced by his administration.
I asked about a couple of capital items. C13 (Toilet Refurbishment Thorpe Hall Avenue) certainly produces bad headlines because of the toilets cuts proposed elsewhere. I was seeking clarification, and received it: this forms part of the sea wall (protecting homes), is a heritage site, and the toilets are in sore need of repair.
On C14 (Cliffs Stabilisation – Clifton Drive) I was echoing the concerns of some of my residents, who were seeking assurances about what was to be undertaken. I was assured that the repairs would return this area to a similar state to what is was prior to the 2013 flooding and landslip.
I asked for the following cuts to be reversed:
PL2 Delete doorstep textiles recycling collection
PL4 Reduce number of toilets at East Beach
PL29 Rationalise public toilets
These amount to £52000, and this will have to come from elsewhere. I am hopeful that my pleas will be listened to.
At People Scrutiny the Conservatives were displeased by the Joint Administration’s reversal of the closure of Priory House. Cllr Salter led the questioning here, oblivious to the obvious fact that she was flying in the face of public opinion. I pointed this out, that the electorate in Southend-on-Sea comprehensively rejected her party’s stewardship of the town last May. I reminded those present that I had taken part in a candlelit vigil at Priory House as well as presented a large petition to the Full Council.
I asked about three of the monthly performance indicators. Two were about vulnerable children, and I was seeking clarification on what the numbers meant. The third was my oft repeated consternation with the performance of the borough’s secondary schools; currently only 69.2% of children attend a good or outstanding school – some way short of the 82.7% target.
I made a number of observations about the Annual Report Of The Director Of Public Health 2014. I am not going to repeat all of my comments, offering only selected highlights.
The life expectancy gap between the least and most deprived areas of Southend-on-Sea stands at 10.1 years for men and 9.7 years for women. This is linked, in my opinion, to some of the planning decisions that have seen central Southend become ever more crowded, whilst the rest of the town sees only modest growth.
The report has many sets of statistics, which tell a story in themselves. For instance, on the numbers of children aged 0 – 19. Here are the wards with the biggest increases over the period 2009 to 2013:
Contrast this with Eastwood Park (-49) and St Laurence wards (-47) which both saw a drop in the number of children.
Now look at the number of children living in poverty. These estimates are for 2012:
Compare this with West Leigh (7%), Leigh (11%), Thorpe (11%), Eastwood Park (12%) and Chalkwell (13%). You may see a theme developing.
I think the overcrowding and the areas of deprivation clustered in the centre of Southend is a cause of concern. This is why I have queried planning applications which make this situation, in my opinion, worse.
We had the statistics for A&E Performance to 18.1.2015 (for Southend University Hospital) to cogitate on. I observed that for the year covered, the target was missed in 39 of the 53 weeks shown. Not a pretty picture.