Day: 12/01/2015

Southend budget: Vital services protected, despite £11m Tory cuts

southend civic centre

This afternoon, the draft budget for Southend Borough Council has been announced and made public by the joint administration. I haven’t had a chance yet to go over it in any great detail, so this is simply an overview of the headlines.

The most notable measures of the budget are:

  • Priory House care home has been saved from closure under the previous Tory administration’s policies.
  • No more children’s centres to close.
  • No more money taken out of Libraries.
  • At least £850,000 saved from new waste contract, with weekly service maintained.
  • To fund this, and plug the £11m gap in Southend’s funding resulting from Tory cuts, council tax will increase by 1.95%, which is equivalent to £2.19 a month, or  51p a week, on a band D property.

Read on…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – A Review

the hobbit - battle of the five armies

And here we are, at last. No, I don’t mean my long overdue review, but rather the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings saga, in the form of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Even with my general policy of avoiding reviews until I can see a film and make up my own mind of it, there has been a lot of stuff written about this film and I haven’t managed to avoid it entirely. A lot of it has been centred around whether it was necessary to split the story into three films, and whether this is all just a waste of time.

I am a big — but not uncritical — fan of not only Tolkien’s fantasy epics, but Peter Jackson’s heroic efforts to translate them to the big screen, and so I am probably pre-disposed to like the films come what may. That said, the previous two Hobbit instalments have not set me alight quite to the same extent as The Lord of the Rings.

So what to make of The Battle of the Five Armies?

Read on…