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Council chiefs fear Southend's population may have been underestimated
SOUTHEND’S population may have been miscounted again, leaving council chiefs to decide if they can afford to challenge the latest census figures in courts.
Statistics released by the Government yesterday show that, according to last year’s count, there are 173,600 people living in Southend.
The figure is a 13,000 increase on the number in the 2001 census, but when population growth is taken into account, bosses at Southend Council believe they might still have been short-changed again.
The 2001 miscalculation has cost the borough an estimated £80million over the last decade in lost Government funding.
At the time, the council lost an appeal to Government officials but stopped short of taking costly legal action.
After hearing the 2011 census results, Rob Tinlin, the council’s chief executive, said he will wait for a fuller analysis before considering legal action.
He said: “It is too soon to say what our position will be.
“Obviously, the good news is the population estimate has increased, because it has cost us over the last ten years.
“But we will need to sit down and look at the evidence before we can work out what should happen next.”
In April 2001, the census claimed there were 160,256 people living within the council’s boundaries.
However, bosses were sure the actual population was far larger because of the town’s seasonal jobs, the number of people living in shared homes and ethnic minorities who might not have taken part in the survey.
Based on health and council tax records, the authority estimated the census had undercounted the number of people living in the borough by about 17,000.
While the new figure has gone up, a baby boom over the last six years is thought to have accounted for much of that increase by itself. Other factors, such as the number of immigrants and workers attracted to the town’s thriving businesses, may have also gone unrecorded.
Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader, said: “In my view, the figure is still too low, although obviously it is at least an improvement on 2001,” he said.
“We will be analysing the figures and considering what other evidence we have. In particular, we need to carefully balance the prospect of success of any application for judicial review with the inevitable cost.”