This is a guest post, written by Helen McDonald, Southend Labour’s candidate for Kursaal ward at the 2016 local elections. As such, the views and opinions expressed may differ radically from your blogger’s own. Some of them may even make sense…
For the past few weekends I’ve been knocking on the doors of Kursaal and, despite the miserable weather on more than one occasion, the residents have proved themselves to be a very welcoming bunch. The birthday cake was a particularly appreciated pick-me-up as was finding a fellow Dolly Parton fan!
Of course, it’s The Big Three that are causing the most upset (that’s parking, dog mess and litter for the uninitiated).
Southend East train station is a massive contributing factor to parking problems around Riviera Drive and the Avenues and this, combined with the sheer number of vehicles needing spaces, is causing difficulties as far away as Stromness Road, especially for shift workers who arrive home during the late evening. Having received a petition from a resident in Bellevue Place asking for residents’ parking, I have drafted a survey that will be distributed to the surrounding area in the next couple of weeks asking for residents’ thoughts. Whilst not everyone in the area is supportive of residents’ parking schemes, I would very much welcome all comments on how we can attempt to address the situation and reduce the frustration of many residents in this part of the ward.
Fly-tipping is also an annoyance. The nature of the housing in Kursaal often means that alleyways once used to transport coal are now unkempt and, in areas where the turn over of residents is high, furniture and possessions are often simply discarded in the street. Many residents feel disheartened when this happens. Many people in the Kursaal area are very proud of where they live and, in some cases, have lived there for a significant part of their life. It is a big job to stay on top of fly-tipping and it has been discussed extensively by the Labour group. In the meantime, before a long-term solution is found, residents can report any fly-tipping to the council online at www.southend.gov.uk/report_it and can expect a response within two days.
There are also some issues that are much more specific to Kursaal as a ward.
I recently attended a training session as part of the voluntary work I do with survivors of sexual violence that was concerned with the health risks of sex-trafficking and prostitution. This is an issue that some residents are concerned about, both in terms of the disturbances on their own streets from curb crawlers but also because they are worried about the impact on the people directly involved in prostitution and the possibility of vulnerable people being exploited. This is an issue that has no quick fix but there are local organisations that are doing excellent work to help address the problem and it is a problem I am committed to improving.
When I haven’t been on the doorsteps of Kursaal, I have been helping to organise an exhibition of art work at the Beecroft Gallery, Victoria Avenue (the old Library) to mark International Women’s Day, to celebrate local women artists and to raise fund for two local charities. The exhibition is called Women’s Work and will run from Saturday 6th February to Tuesday 8th March. Entry is free. There will also be a private view event on Wednesday 10th February from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Entry is by donation (suggested at £3 or whatever you can give) with proceeds going to charity. This is a really wonderful opportunity to see work by local and international artists as well as to support our local arts scene. I’d love to see lots of residents there, it promises to be a good show (plus there will be wine and nibbles!)