Daily Archives: January 29, 2011

Community Work

Local children living in one of the most deprived wards in the country are to benefit from a new weekly film club. The club is the work of local resident Jack Sweetenham, 18 who has been driven by his passion for film to secure funding from mobile technology giant, O2 as part of their ‘Think Big’ programme.

The £2,500 grant will be used by Jack to run the film education programme for young people based in Kursaal Ward, Southend and will enable participants to use their creative energies to learn how to produce films. Jack has been active in community work involving young people for some while and is driven by his interest in the arts and drive to give something back to his local area. Previously, he received the initial O2 grant of £300 which he used to develop a short film that was screened at Southend Library last year, and this latest grant follows up on this success.

Of the project, Jack commented: “Essentially, it gives young people in the area something constructive to do with their time.”

“It is amazing to be involved in a project that brings results – the people who join the programme actually get to see their work on screen at the end – and that is very satisfying.”

The community action project has inspired local Councillors, who work closely with Kursaal Ward residents. Commenting on the project Councillors Blaine Robin and Louise Burdett said, “This will be a great project for the local area and we look forward to seeing what else Jack has in store. We hope he will continue to source funding for these important activities and we are happy to support him wherever possible. ”

Recently nominated Conservative Kursaal Ward Candidate Neil Austin has also been impressed by the project. He said “Jack sets an example for other young people in the area, showing them that they can do something truly worthwhile and inspiring with their time. The options for community engagement in Kursaal are good and thanks to projects like this they can continue to get better”.

O2’s ‘Think Big’ project is a £5 million scheme to support young people aged between 13 and 25 years who want to make a difference in their communities and combat negative stereotypes of our younger generation. The programme is being developed in association with National Youth Agency and UK Youth.

Anyone wanting to participate in the programme should contact Jack Sweetenham on 07952 747441.

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This week Councillor’s Blaine Robin and Louise Burdett met with Councillor Stephen Castle.  Stephen was a leading player in the London bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.  Stephen spoke about the events locally in Southend and the impact that they would have on the local community. 

For example Stephen spoke about the Velodrome which will also be used before the Games starts, he mentioned the white water rafting course on the River Lea and of course the mountain biking at Hadleigh.


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Selective Licensing in Kursaal Ward

Local Councillors in Kursaal Ward have been working hard to support the case for Selective Licensing powers for Southend Council, which mean they would have the authority to close down residential properties that did not meet stringent standards.

Conservative Councillors have been pressing for the scheme to start in Kursaal ward, in order to protect the standard of living for residents. Under the scheme, landlords who do not comply with a certain set of defined standards could have their properties shut down to residential lettings. Properties with being rented out, as a minimum would have to be well maintained and cared for or they risk being subjected to fines. Private landlords would also have a duty to take responsibility for the behaviour of their tenants, so reducing the intake of antisocial individuals who are then left to their own devices likely causing problems for neighbours in the area. 

The move is supported by Councillors Louise Burdett and Blaine Robin, and Conservative Ward Candidate Neil Austin who have been in communications with Councillor Anna Waite who holds the portfolio for Housing. It is recognised that this will be an important first move for improving the quality of living the town, particularly in more disadvantaged wards such as Kursaal where there is at present a high proportion of shared accommodation, flats and bedsits.

The Council plan to take this forward as a serious step, and Cllr Waite said “Whilst selective licensing will not turn the area around alone it is a first and important step to address the issues and I am very committed to get this up and running.”

“There will be a consultation and I urge residents to get involved in this and to let us know what they think. Within the selected area all rented properties, not just Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), can fall within the selective licensing remit if Anti Social Behaviour is present.”

Through his work in Kursaal Ward, Neil Austin has been able to identify the clear need for moves such as Selective Licensing to improve quality of life for many residents. “Having been out in the Ward, talking to local people, it is clear that something needs to be done to ensure landlords can take more responsibility for the people they take into their properties. It is also a basic right for people in the area to have a property that meets good quality standards and provides all the modern conveniences that can be expected. There is work to be done, and Selective Licensing is a positive first step to offering that protection to our community.”

Private residents concerned with the standard of their rented property, or with any housing issues can speak to their local councillors. Residents can also submit their views to the consultation when it opens at the Council’s website: http://www.southend.gov.uk/

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