As council prepares to close down homes for the elderly, the mayor's mansion is to get £200,000 facelift - and he doesn't even live in it (From Echo)
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£200,000 spruce-up for Southend Mayor's mansion, Porters
SOUTHEND Council is spending £200,000 to restore parts of the mayor’s civic mansion, Porters, and its Macebearer’s Cottage.
The mayor does not actually live in the building but uses it for official events.
The council plans to spend the money re-roofing and carrying out repairs to the cottage at the site in Southchurch Road, Southend, and will also repair panelling in Porters itself.
Heaters will also be altered while floors, panels and partitions will be repaired and a new ventilation system and outside lighting will be added.
The building was given a £250,000 refurbishment in 2010. The new spending comes at a time when libraries, children centres and care homes in the borough are all facing cuts.
Andrew Moring, Southend councillor responsible for corporate services said: “In February this year the council set its budget covering all funding commitments in the borough - within that budget £200,000 was ring fenced for essential work to preserve Porters.
“It’s a Grade II listed building of great historic importance, so a range of specialist work needs to be undertaken.”
The council said the previous work in 2010 was a priority and was carried out immediately, whereas the new work is to address subsequent essential repairs to help preserve the building.
But the council’s plan to spend the cash has angered those facing council cuts.
Stan Saunders, 85, of Canterbury Avenue, Southchurch, has collected more than 7,000 signatures against possible plans to close Delaware and Priory House care homes.
His wife Vicky, 84, has been in Delaware House since February, suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The council claims it will cost £1million to improve the homes.
Mr Saunders said: “It’s disgusting to hear something like this when they say they’re talking about closing the care homes.
“How can the council spend that money so easily there? Are the repairs that urgent?”
The council is also looking to save £378,000 by making changes to its library service over the next three years.
Despite the cuts, opposition councillors are supportive of the Porters spending plans as it is used as a wedding venue.
Lib Dem group leader Graham Longley said: “Porters is the town’s little treasure, it’s important that it should be maintained.”
Martin Terry independent group leader added: “It’s a necessary evil in terms of expenditure as it does generate income.”
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