Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bedding Plants For Sale - Slight Sawdust Damage...

Southend Council no doubt have a similar outlook to yours... their rule of thumb seems to be ignore what the local residents want (you know, us plebs that pay the Council Tax), and do the things that they don't want.

The latest tragic example of this is the commencement of 15 months of work converting the main roundabout into town (Victoria Circus) into yet more concrete and a traffic light system (at a cost of a mere £25 million!!!!). The current roundabout is nothing special, but it's been there for almost 50 years and does the job - allowing traffic to flow reasonably well in and out of town. But what IS special (erm, make that 'WAS' special) were the 100 year old trees that this huge traffic island was originally constructed around back in the early 1960's.

As luck would have it, I took this photo of the roundabout on Thursday 7th January. Obviously I took the picture just to capture the snowfall, I had no idea of what was about to happen...

Coming in to work on Monday 11th January I was shocked to see the decimated roundabout. All but one of the trees had been cut down, and all the plant beds dug up... the aftermath looked like a World War I battlefield. The council had made no notification that this work was to commence (no doubt intentionally), and a local group of protesters even had a meeting booked with the council on Tuesday 12th to discuss if there was any way the trees could be incorporated into the new development. The council agreed to meet the protesters... then cut the lot down on Sunday 10th.

Here's the same view less than a week after my first photo...

I am however delighted to see the townsfolk rising up to display their disgust at this needless expenditure and destruction of such distinguished trees, as ever since, the railings at the side of the roundabout have turned into an 'RIP' shrine.... It's much like you see on the roads these days at the scene of a tragic accident, however a closer inspection of the cards, flowers and wreaths shows that the deceased they are paying their respects to are none other than the 22 culled trees! Also great to see that the art of sarcasm is alive and well in Southend... In amongst the tributes are 3 lovely bogus ads:



and my personal favourite:


I do hope that the phone numbers attached to these ads weren't all direct lines to the decision makers over at the Council...

I brought my camera in just too late... hours before I took these photos there were dozens of floral tributes, cards and messages on and around the railings. The council had removed the whole lot by the time I went out to lunch, and all that remained were these few messages. 30 minutes later as I returned from lunch, all of these had been removed too!!!! If only the council were this diligent and efficient during our month of scandalously icy roads and pavements... maybe my 78 year old dad wouldn't have fallen over in the treacherous conditions, and perhaps his Christmas wouldn't have been ruined.

The council of course will take no notice of the locals and their show of disgust... we only live here for goodness sake, why would we be interested in what happens to our town? But I'm pleased that people feel strongly enough to make their point.

And what IS the point of digging up the roundabout anyway?? John Lamb (our Tory councillor responsible for tourism and regeneration) said "the works will help boost trade and tourism in the town"... I can hear the tills ringing with anticipation already John, nothing like a new set of traffic lights to get peoples wallets out... Anna Waite (Southend Councils executive councillor for transport and planning) said "we are extremal proud of this scheme, which will transform the entrance to Southend Town Centre"... bloody hell Anna, I thought we were in a recession love?! You couldn't quite manage to scrape up a few quid to get some grit out on the roads (which in turn meant I risked my life every morning travelling to work and you didn't collect my rubbish for nearly THREE weeks), but you can find £25 million to "transform the entrance to Southend Town Centre"??! Great... at least people will now have to wait until they get through the "entrance" before they realise the town is a shit-hole these days.... The blame for which I also lay at the feet of this council after years of neglect. The once thriving 'office' area of Southend is now 90% vacant derelict buildings, the shopping centre is full of empty shops, and the whole place is grubby and depressing.

Yet the one asset that Southend has that might (just might) bring in a few tourists, we've been waiting THIRTY FOUR years for you to mend!!! Yes, the pier-head of the longest pier in the world (1.3 miles) was all but destroyed by fire in 1976, with further fires in 1995 and 2005... and we are STILL waiting for Southend council to repair it!

I don't know anyone who thinks that this £25 million pound development is wanted or needed.... and to my mind, the introduction of a weedy set of traffic lights at such an incredibly busy junction seems woefully naive.

Oh, and just one final thing.... either side of the roundabout the council have hastily erected two lovely hoardings showing an 'artists impression' of what this fabulous improvement will look like. I had to do a double take, as surely I'd made a mistake, but no, quite clearly there it was in the exact position where the roundabout currently sits.... guess what?? yup that's right, a dozen or so trees... Wankers.



Artog said...

It's depressing how often you read about things like this. Obviously, anybody who'd sanction the destruction of such nice old trees for no good reason has got no soul - but it's the ruthless suppression of even the gentlest dissent that really shows them up as proper bastards.

mrsmondo said...

I just can't believe my eyes..when did this happen? I don't drive into Southend much (if I can help it) being as work, school and most of my mates are all in the opposite direction. But I still live in the hope that one day Southend Council will start to recognise the potential this great seaside town actually has. And then I see yet another eye-sore in the making and I realise I'm gonna be waiting a long time...

Great post - you should forward to the clueless idiots reponsible..

Mondo said...

Pitch perfect piece P. What a Rag, Tag and Bobtail bunch of clueless arseholes the council are. Guarantee they're expecting to skim off passing trade from the Olympics.

It is unbelievable that the closest coastal town to one of the world's greatest capital cities, with 2 direct road and rail links (less than an hour by either) has literally nothing to offer apart from a shabby shops , a patched up pier and the chavery and tackery of the Golden Mile.

I remember Mrs M saying it all started to go wrong when the sweeping seafront views from the high street, were blocked off by the Royals shopping centre being knocked up.

One other thing. I notice most people in the artists impression seem to walking away from Southend - that's the bloody sum of it

Word veri = stpioss I'm sure there's an appropriate anagram in there somewhere

Axe Victim said...

You have to vote mate. It's all you can do. Vote the idiots out.

Piley said...

Artog - you make a very good point. This council has a fine history of "we know what you want" type decisions... I honestly don't think i'm in the minority here!!! I'm yet to find someone who is for this change (who doesn't work at the council i mean!!). Tearing down the tributes is because they know the idea is not popular, and they want to nip any reaction in the bud. The irony of all of these people being "public servants" is not lost on me either!

Mrs M - Yes, the arrogance of the council appars to know no bounds... They will not be happy until every inch of this place is made of concrete and no trees remain. They have already had a field day with chopping trees down in recent years... how about the 30 odd mature trees chopped in Hamlet Court Rd the other year for example??

Mondo - So true, the place could be such a fabulous area, like you say, less than an hour from London, what a great place to go (in theory) to escape the pressures of London on a nice sunny day. So easy to get to and.... nothing to come here for!!

Good spot on the artists impression there!! They have the right idea eh?!

Axe - If only... Never works mate.


Cocktails said...

Small civic improvements can make a big difference to a town, so the council are perhaps right to be thinking about prettying things up a bit.

However, I see that their new development also includes some trees - new trees that will take some time to grow to the size of the old ones.

You'd think that if they really had to do something they'd at least try and come up with an alternative (and cheaper) beautification scheme incorporating the old trees wouldn't you?

Our council has the same 'all or nothing' yet strangely half-arsed approach to 'regeneration'. A few years ago they knocked down an eye-sore building and its surrounding trees and grass. So what's there now? A big hole in the ground surrounded by a sea of ashphalt!! Fills me with civic pride, it does...

E F RICE said...

As a local resident I thought this was a disgrace. The design they want to replace the good old fashioned roundabout with looks a shambles. Ultimately, Southend cannot attract the big stores or companies anymore and I fear we will be left with more large unoccupied concrete spaces. I really don’t see how all this expenditure can be justified.

Unfortunately you didn’t witness the one man protest march Mrs EFR saw, where a chap in his eighties was single handedly waving his walking stick at the roundabout shouting out ‘Tree Murdering B’stards !!’.

What next I wonder for our seaside town ?

Anonymous said...

This post made me sad and fucking angry. The lovely snow bound picture you took is virtually identical to my view when i worked at in the same building as you and i was gutted to see what had been done since. If it's not broken DON'T FIX IT !!!. Is the new scheme going to improve any thing ? NO ! , is the cost justified NO !. Traffic flows very well at that spot , why change it at such expense. How is a roundabout going to bring in MONEY. "I know dear lets go to Southend to see that new roundabout" aint gonna happen guys. When they clean up the town and put in some proper attractions (like repairing the peir) re house the chavs , lazy doleites and illeagal immagrants THEN people may flood back to Southend. What i find truely truely offensive is that they just don't fucking care what we think. We have no voice what so ever. A few spirited messages and flowers (i applaud these people) but it's just pissing in the wind as compaired to having a proper say in what is done with our money and town. Some thing has to change , these stuck up arrogant suits who run our lives are getting worse and more and more arrogant and direspectfull of our views and our money. I feel so angry yet i feel gagged , who will listen ? , where can i go ?. Wankers !


Kolley Kibber said...

Oh dear, poor Southend. It really sounds like it's dying on its arse. The council in Brighton is on the other end of the spectrum but just as maddening- it seems to have be composed of an procession of narcissists, obsessed with 'image' (to attract visitors) but actually delivering bugger all in terms of services and amenities (to the people who actually live here).

The last straw for me was when they pulled the funding on the Rape Crisis centre, and the money got diverted over to pay for the 'Place To Be' advertising campaign. Just vile.

Southend Council, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be serving either visitors OR residents very well. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

chazza said: Im from East London Docklands myself. . Newham Council.
Always being described as a deprived borough. (dont see why. . .council taxing being well over £1,500.00)

Where the ripper and The Kray brothers once roamed.

If it wasnt for the Olympics 'coming to town' (as they say), we wouldnt be experiencing an 'extreme make over'. . . Typical ha!

Anonymous said...

These bunch a coucillors have always acted the same. If they have something in mind, in it goes. Doesn't matter about local opinion. Dog crap and parking is their favourite topic (its about as big a topic they can get their minds around). Dogs have to have their arses sown up if they dare venture anywhere outside their own home now. They're more of a social leper than smokers in these quarters. And parking restrictions everywhere. Like this "Southend Gateway" scheme, the residents were asked for their views over the introduction of permits, but before the end period of consultation they introduced the scheme anyway. They must have copped the unpopularity for it in the local press. Like you say Piley, the front and pier at Southend looks shocking, like something caught in a tacky time warp. Hardly a month goes by without some scheme or other fronts the local paper about the pier, but nothing ever happens. They seem to have no cohesive sense of direction for the town. Inertia the norm, or at best the santioning of some ugly building that has no fit with its surroundings. Tossers.


Dave Whit said...

as a born and bred Southender I am very pissed off that this council has removed these mature trees and as a result,will shortly be causing major problems driving to and from Southend while they remove this perfectly serviceable and once attractive roundabout and eventually replace it with traffic lights, re-modelled roads and a new pedestrian crossing.

What is this 'Gateway' they are trying to promote? Do they mean that narrow alleyway that runs between the Odeon cinema and the New Look store - it's only about fifteen feet wide! Or perhaps they mean the service road that runs next to the former Yeates' pub?

This whole project seems to be about making it easier for rail passengers to walk from Southend Victoria Station to this alleyway and then onto the High Street.

It is no surprise that Southend Council is wasting tax payers'money on yet more unnecessary and ugly projects -- Anyone who has waited for a bus at the embarrassingly awful new Central Bus Station, or walked up and down the part-cobbled 'patchwork quilt effect' pedestrianised high street will have seen it all before.

Time to emigrate.

Piley said...

Thanks everyone for the comments - so brilliant ones here, and a great reality check for me too... was starting to think it was just me!!

Cocktails - Yes, if this council had ANY interest in it's residents it would consult with them, and like you say, try to come up with a compromise. If the new scheme could have incorporated the old trees, a lot more people would have maybe gone with it. They treat us council tax payers with absolute contempt.

EF Rice - Good luck to that old fella! wish I had a pic of him for the blog tho!! Wonder if he's the one with all those bird tables for sale??!!

Carl - love the rage within your comments mate... I have no idea how a council full of suposedly 'inteligent' people can come to the conclusion that you can regenerate a town by taking away a roundabout, adding a traffic light and calling it a gateway!!! Can't polish a turd i'm afraid, but wont stop em trying (all at our expence of course).

ISBW - that's just as bad in its own way isnt it?? I guess there is only so long you can keep promoting the cool image without there being much to back it up (although I do love Brighton, and it does have much more to offer than S-O-S). The diversion of the money from the rape crisis was outrageous.

Hi Chazza - yes, i'm sure this is a very interesting time for residents of the Olmpic areas... I wonder how many of the people who actually live there had any say in the matter? and how many actually WANT it??! And what after 2012?? You are stuck with a massive empty stadium and an olympic village??


Piley said...

Warble - your opening line is spot on. Southend United want a new stadium and it rolls on for years and years with the council putting blockers in the way one after the other.... Southend airport want to massivly increase flights (and it is MASSIVLY) affecting thousands of peoples live - including a load of compulsary purchase orders on houses so they can extend the runway.... it goes through in bloody weeks! Something very fishy.

Dave Whit - What a great question!!! and you are right!! I have no idea what this 'gateway' to southend is.... unless you knock down the new cinema, there will still be no 'gateway' to the town. You will stil turn right up to another roundabout and then in!! The same as you ever did, excpet you'll be turning right at £25m worth of traffic light instead of turning right on the roundabout. Now thats progress!!

And thinking about it, isn't the 'gateway' what we always had BEFORE the roundabout in the 60's anyway??!!! Think you could drive straight down Victoria avenue and straght across into the hight street.


Anonymous said...

chazza said: yes you are right on all levals. . .no we wern't consulted. Those in the way were pressured to move and the bull dossers reaked distruction asap. Leaving more eye sores than we had before. . .

and for 'The Stadium' its rumoured that West Ham FC are interested. . .they have out grown their grounds

rockmother said...

Very well written Pilester and as we were saying the other night - how bent are local councils? Surely this proves it. Outrageous. You should forward your post to the local paper - it deserves to be read by everyone in Southend at least.

Piley said...

Thanks Chazza... interesting to hear your thoughts, although sad to hear you are treated with as much respect and concern as we are here in Southend....

Hi RM! Yes, it's not good is it??! I'm still trying to work out how digging up a roundabout and adding a traffic light equals £25m!!!! who is trousering the other 24.5m??!


phsend said...

I came into work on the Sunday they did all the carnage so I probably am the last person to take a photo of that tree :) I stood and watched the whole operation with morbid fascination.

Dan said...

I'll hold my hands up here and admit that when I saw the trees had been cut down, I wasn't particularly bothered. I know, I know, not a very caring attitude, but I'm someone who likes progress and change and realises that sacrifices have to be made.

However, what absolutely incensed me was the news that the council had agreed to a meeting with environmental campaigners, then snuck in a couple of days before that meeting was due to take place and cut the whole lot down. That, more than anything else, infuriates me. I thought that, as taxpayers, the council worked for us? Therefore, if a group of taxpayers had a legitimate concern, the council were honour bound to hear them out. Apparently not. It seems that Southend council can do what the hell it wants and is accountable to nobody. I find that appalling.

What I find equally appalling is that we have a road improvement scheme which, it seems, is designed to beautify the 'Southend Gateway' for the legions of tourists who will descend upon us. Allow me to be sceptical for a moment and ask 'what tourists'? If we had something in the town worth seeing, then fair enough. As it is, we have Victoria Plaza, filled with empty, boarded-up units that nobody can afford, and a pier that has been neglected for years.

Southend Council desperately needs to sort its priorities out.

Anonymous said...

Sorry i don't get it. i walk(ed) past those trees/roundabout everyday, an i admit i never once stopped to look at it, i bet half of you didn't even care until it was removed? or sat and looked at the roundabout and Marveled at its beauty!?

also the RIP messages were just sad, as in, get a life, or a job and do something meaningful with your day.

A "friend" of mine heard about it after it happend as she sat at home watching day time TV and had to rush there to leave a RIP message, come on if it meant something then join the old bloke with the stick.

I agree with Dan in that they should have been given the chance to protest against it, would it have helped? no i don't think so, and yes its a waste of our money. and in ten years they will probably be turning it back into a roundabout.

Yeah they were old but know one paid any attention to them until the were gone. kind of like Jade Goody and Farrah Fawcett.

Flame on :-)

Piley said...

PH - The bidding war starts here, I want an exclusive on those last ever pictures... hold the front page Margo...

Dan - That was a particularly arsehole thing to do wasn't it?? I believe it was the 'Camp Bling' lot who had the meeting. I assume the council doesn't like them because they won the last time they crossed swords. So this was a shyster way of beating them. Absolutely no morals has Southend Council. Mark my words, this all singing, all dancing 'gateway' will be shit, and wont cope with the traffic...

Anon, Am guessing you are probably a little younger than the rest of the commenters... It's something that will come with age my friend. When 100 year old history is just torn up without a care, and wthout good reason, it will sadden you one day. Either that or you are Anna Waite!!! Imagine if someone stole your Spiderman collection and just burned it without a care?? that would be wrong right??!