Share this story!

Letter – Coun Peter Wexham

Councillor Peter Wexham



By Councillor Peter Wexham, Lib/Dem Coun for Leigh Ward

IT is nice see our Leigh paper back again with the family that started the Leigh Times many years ago, albiet in a slightly different format, and I am pleased to be able to write the first political column for the Leigh on Sea News.

Locally, there are a number of issues that need addressing and are causing concern for local residents. l New voting rules – All residents need to know that the Government have changed the rules on voting in local and general elections.

This means you will need to show photo identity when you go into the polling booth or you won`t be able to vote.

If this is a problem for you, the other option is to get a postal vote, you can do this by phoning 215010 or 215000 and asking for the elections department, or go online to the Southend City Councils website.

This all takes time, so do it as soon as you can.

The Environment on Two Tree Island – I have spent many years protecting Two Tree Island.

The 70s saw the seawall breach, I along with other volunteers, spent many hours trying to block the breach as Southend refused to have anything to do with it.

I finally got Anglian Water to draw up plans to raise the wall on the southeast end of the Island and the County Council, after capping the rubbish on the west side, came and supplied the clay and soil to build a raised seawall and to cover up the large area where the rubbish was coming up through the ground, on the eastern side.

Later, the Concrete Essex blocks to the west of the slipway, near the scout hut, were being dragged out by the wave action and the high tides were cutting back into the rubbish.

After legal advice, the new Chief Executive at the time agreed with me and made the officers take responsibility for the Island defences.

The officers and myself had a meeting with the Minister at the time, to get MAFF to release the money to do proper repairs to stop leachate and rubbish getting out into the river, and this work was carried out. Sandbags are now holding up the Environmental front.

The Council has rebuilt a section of the seawall on Two Tree Island, on the west side of the slipway, as the old wall, probably dating back to the 1950s, was getting unstable.

This new scheme is to allow the salt marsh to grow and expand. The east corner, where the creek is undercutting the old seawall, has now been made a priority by DEFRA. I do find it strange that it was kept a secret from councillors and volunteers on the Island. Plans are being put together to protect the base of the seawall on the north-east corner, where the creek is under-cutting the base.

Whilst we are doing this, Sky’s Climate Change programme showed a vast area of a landfill site, at Tilbury in Thurrock, is collapsing into the River Thames, with all the rubbish strewn along the foreshore.

Not only is this very bad, but these old tips could have anything buried in them from chemicals to heavy metals. Now Thurrock has gone bankrupt, why the environment Agency has not stepped in to sort out the problem I do not know, but something needs to be done very quickly.

Cockle sheds – Work to sort out the rear of the cockle sheds and the new quayside is moving forward, funded by the levelling up grant awarded last year.

I am working to try and get more of the cooking process carried out in Leigh and the local area, so the Cockles are not mainly taken away to Kings Lynn for cooking.

This is to strengthen the Leigh cockle brand and provide more local jobs in the local industry.

Grass areas across the city – There is a new policy going through the Council where large grassed areas can be allowed to grow with wild flowers to provide nectar for pollinating bees and other insects. It is not just honeybees.

There are lots of solitary bees such as the bumble bee and shrill carder bees and many more. They nest and lay their eggs in trees or holes in the ground.

There are masonry bees that dig into sandstone and mortar and other insects and they all supply food for the small birds to feed and rear their young.

The areas on the verges can be prepared and seeded with wild flowering plants. This is part of the COP26 policy for improving wildlife.

Many small birds and insects are in steep decline in Britain and around the world. In many countries pollination has to be done using manpower as chemical sprays and pollutants have destroyed the biodiversity of the pollinating insects. Britain and Europe will have the same problem unless we take action, so farmers and local authorities need to give land back to nature.

Residents can help by planting wild flower seed in areas of their gardens. With most front gardens being taken over by concrete or hard surfacing and many back gardens covered with decking areas, there has been a great loss of habitat across every Town and City.

This also causes rainwater to run off down the drains instead of soaking into the ground, which is causing flooding and overwhelming the sewage systems and leading to more sewage being run into the sea, without treatment.

The City keeps expanding without the infrastructure to cope.

Finally, after many years of the County Council putting all our black bag waste into landfill, Southend City Council has now got a contract to send it to a waste to energy plant, which is environmentally better than land fill.

This also saves money as it was costing over £100 a Ton to dispose at Landfill, plus travelling to Colchester with it.

You could not make it up – with the country in a financial mess and even working families having to use foodbanks, the chaos caused by the Conservative Liz Truss leading to soaring mortgage rates costing home owners hundreds extra each month an landlords putting up rents, the crisis in the NHS and all our public services caused by their Government, what did the local Tories put forward to be discussed for opposition business?

We had to listen to them complaining about planning for brick pillars being built as artwork in Thorp Bay, which they thought was an outrage. They have no conscience in the real world.

about author