Michael Downer

9th January 2009

Nigel Holdcroft
Leader of the Council: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
PO Box 6
Civic Centre
Victoria Avenue
Essex SS2 6ER

Dear Mr. Holdcroft,

I am writing to you in the hope that you might persuade the Executive Councillor for Transport to have the good grace to reply to just one of the several letters I sent her in March and April of last year. I am enclosing a copy of the original letter so that you have an appreciation of my frustration with this Councillor's cavalier attitude towards an issue of considerable importance to the residents of Southend.

I would also like to use this opportiunity to let you know that I and many others support the views of the group, 'Saxon King in Priory Park' (SKIPP) who would like to see the prospective museum dedicated to the Saxon artefacts sited in Priory Park. The site of the corporation depot would seem to be a proper use for land which should be in the public domain anyway. It takes up a vast amount of parkland and is in close proximity to the actual burial site.

Such a position would be both logical and financially cheaper than the Council's(?) grandiose scheme paraded in the town recently. Whilst appreciating the thinking behind this scheme - get the 'punters' in from far and wide and hopefully hold back the cliffs at the same time plus all the 'fun of the fair' nearby as a bonus - but realistically I cannot see the funds forthcoming and anyway is the seaside really a suitable site for a town with aspirations to become the cultural centre of south Essex? The same thinking that dictates the removal of the swimming pool to the outskirts of town seems clearly at work in the council's choice of museum site. Further, the proposed position breaks up the continuity of the sloping cliffs and would invite further structures at a later date.

Please let us have a rethink; as a town we have suffered over the years from the many errors of judgement on the part of of our elected representatives and their officials.

Yours sincerely

Michael Downer

Southend Borough
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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

P.O. Box 6    Civic Centre    Victoria Avenue    Southend-on-Sea    Essex    SS2 6ER

Councillor Nigel Holdcroft
Leader of the Council

Telephone: (01702) 215142    Fax: (01702) 215199    Email: cllrholdcroft@southend.gov.uk

15th January 2009

Mr M Downer
Southend on Sea

Dear Mr Downer

Thank you for your letter and enclosure of 9th January.

Dealing first with the issue raised in your letter of 20th March 2008; I can only reiterate that Councillor Waite and I have repeatedly indicated both in Full Council and to the local media that the original plans have been abandoned; Firstly because it is apparent that funding will not be forthcoming form the Government and also in the recognition of the concerns expressed in respect of the preservation of the burial site.

Amended plans have been submitted to the Government to formally recall this aspiration and set out our proposals for the appropriate landscaping of the burial site and the erection of some form of appropriate memorial.

Bearing in mind that funding was not forthcoming from the Government to fund the original scheme even when being requested by the Council; It is clear that there is absolutely no possibility of funding being made available when it is not being requested!

In the circumstances I’m at a loss why this decision, which was taken within weeks of me taking over Leadership of the Council in 2007, has not resulted in the vacation of the burial site by the group of unlawful squatters. As and when they have vacated it would be my intention to immediately put in hand the relevant renovation work.

We are currently pursuing funding for the much needed improvement works to the Cuckoo Corner junction which is consistent with the funding which has already been obtained to improve certain other junctions along the A127 and will also need to under take additional work, certainly to that area of Priory Crescent giving access to the Norwich Union site, as and when the development of that site is likely to proceed.

Frankly it is difficult to see how our intentions could be made any clearer.

Dealing with your letter to me I can confirm that some investigation was undertaken with regard to locating the relics in Priory Park but for various reasons this is not feasible.

We have obtained Government funding and undertaken a feasibility study with regard to other possible locations which recommended the construction of a new museum in the area of the landslip being a short distance from the pier. Not only does this site allow the opportunity to construct a home suitable for these historic finds it also gives the benefit of stabilising an area of cliff which could otherwise not be funded. I disagree with your comments as to the suitability of this location. When returned to Southend these relics should prove to be a major tourist attraction and as such the logic of their ocation within a short walk of the town centre, main tourist area and both railway lines is in my view without doubt.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Kind Regards

Yours Sincerely

Councillor Nigel Holdcroft
Leader of Southend Borough Council

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