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January 2020 - SBP Newsletter

Published: Friday, 17th January 2020

The latest Southend business news brought to you by the Economic Development Team!

The Southend on Sea Borough Council draft budget was presented to businesses and the voluntary sector yesterday for consultation by Joe Chesterton, Executive Director (Finance & Resources) and Cllr Ian Gilbert, Leader of the Council. following the publication of the information on the 9th January. There are some key headlines in terms of additional revenue budget to support  Adult and Children's Social Care, highways and the environment. and with respect to the capital budget there were proposals for Housing, Schools, The Pier, the maintenance and refurbishment of cultural buildings, highways and a major investment in ICT. Businesses who would like more information should click here to access the full budget details. but it is clear the council is working to re-align budgets to the Southend 2050 outcomes which businesses and residents have formulated in partnership with the council. If you do have any specific comments you would like to raise, please click here to email us your thoughts.

The council has also announced major investment in the Town Centre to support its regeneration. The Town Centre continues to be a major concern to businesses and residents alike and Councillors have confirmed their commitment to delivering improvements and making it fit for the 21st Century.  The plans include new paving, greening and street furniture to improve the public realm combined with plans for the use of empty units and funding to smarten up shop fronts. A number of you will have seen the recent Panorama programme on High Streets which is still available on the iPlayer and the press release can be viewed here for more information on the plans for Southend. It should be noted that we have some good examples of businesses who are supporting the regeneration of high street space including Caddies, Escape Live and The Haven.

No doubt you will all have been aware of the increasing need to protect our environment and with this in mind we asked the Council to present to the SBP Executive group on the issue including the challenges and implications to Southend of the current situation. As a result of these discussions we believe it is important to engage with the whole of the business community across Southend to discuss the challenges to cutting carbon emissions and to work together to develop an action plan for how we can become Carbon Neutral. Cllr Carole Mulroney is the Councillor responsible for the environment and already we are seeing some initiatives to plant trees and greenery, to improve drainage and reduce emissions but this is something we need to deliver together. I have therefore agreed to make the focus for the next Southend Business Partnership (SBP) briefing to be on Climate Change and Net Zero and how we in Southend work together to achieve this. The briefing will take place on Thursday 26th March at the Park Inn Hotel, Southend. Please click here to book your place and take some time to consider the environmental impact of your business and how this can be reduced. It should be noted that many businesses across Southend have already benefited from LoCASE grants and have seen their costs reduce as well as their emissions. This funding is now closed but we are hopeful there could be new funding so it is important we are ready to use it,if it will help us achieve our targets.

With vehicles accounting for 29% and approx 150,000 tonnes of CO2, I am sure you will already have noted that access to Rochford Road northbound from The Bell junction is being restricted for 12 weeks as diversionary gas works are undertaken as part of The Bell junction works. From Monday 13 January up until Friday 3 April, vehicles will be unable to access Rochford Road from The Bell junction. This means the A127 westbound right hand turn onto Rochford Road, the A127 eastbound left hand turn onto Rochford Road, and access onto Rochford Road from Hobleythick Lane will all be prohibited. For more information regarding The Bell works, please visit www.southend.gov.uk/thebell. In addition, overnight works are also underway to introduce the new 50mph zone on the A127  to improve air quality and road safety.  Please see the Highways England website for more information by clicking here. For other traffic news the highways England site can be quite helpful, please click here.

Southend Council are continuing to engage with the business community through a series of events in order to address key issues raised by our business community. Recruitment and skills is an area that is continuing to frustrate businesses and so they will be hosting a series of Apprenticeship recruitment events as well as an event for businesses who would like to discuss Apprenticeships and to discuss how this could work for them. This apprenticeship event for businesses is open to both levy payers and non levy payers and the Council is keen to see how they can support the increase of apprenticeships across Southend in all sectors. Larger levy payers including the Council are now able to transfer 25% of their levy pot to support the training costs of apprentices in other organisations which could make this much more attractive to a wider range of businesses so they are keen to talk to you. Please click here to book a place on this or click here to email the team for more information. 

Given the importance of the tourism industry to the economy of Southend, the council have just contracted with Severn Lamb to replace and modernise the Pier Trains. There is currently a consultation on the plans but this along with the modernisation of the Pier entrance will enable Southend to continue to attract and improve the visitor experience. For more information click here.

Finally, Southend Creative Network is inviting all creative businesses to a networking event at the Westcliff Hotel on Friday 7 February. This year the Network will be working alongside the Multi-Author Signing #AuthorsAt...event, run by Lizzie Chantree - part of Essex 2020 celebration. Alison Dewey from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council will be leading a discussion around the development of the Southend's Cultural Ambitions, South East Creatives (SECCADS) project will be  introducing the grants, business support, mentoring and internship opportunities that are on offer to cultural, creative and digital businesses and finally Lizzie Chantree, author and creative business mentor who will be talking about her #CreativeBizHour mentoring session on Twitter as well as her book group on Facebook.There is also an event at the Hive  on the 30th January focusing on  the commercialisation of the creative industries. We recognise this is an important sector for Southend and will be working to support its development in the coming year.

So on behalf of the Southend Business Partnership I would like to wish you all a very prosperous, happy and environmentally friendly 2020.

Kind regards

Murray Foster

Chairman of the Southend Business Partnership