I think our letter writers are being a little unkind to Tory MP David Amess for his take on the other towns vying for some curious honour or other for being the most cultural centre in the UK. Them versus Southend-on-Sea.

Have we become so brainwashed by political correctness and the dangers of saying boo to a goose that a comment, no doubt made in a moment of friskiness and daresay tongue in cheek, has the local human rights uptight brigade reaching for their smelling salts?

For heaven’s sake, if this dubious cultural award had any merit at all, one might take it seriously. Mr Amess’s comment that other towns are dumps is reasonable if that’s how he sees them. I have always thought Brighton gets too much media attention compared to us, but then Brighton is where all the media luvvies hang out and the gay lobby rule ok.

Traditionally, it is legitimate and sporting to compete with your local town or village for the title of best and any underhand dealings are unspoken, yet accepted. It’s what we used to call honest British fun!

Give me a renegade any day on the polling ballot paper. The likes of Ric Morgan and Steve Aylen, local councillors with minds of their own, are preferable to the robots who toe the party line any day. Anyway, who exactly defines what is culture? A traditional plate of Leigh cockles? A Rossi ice cream? A visit to the Beecroft for arty stuff or a swan down the longest pleasure pier in the world for a Jamie Oliver experience?

Culture for me is a street party where neighbours get to know each other. Local culture is a school for disabled kids that puts on a concert and makes the audience weep with pride. It’s about feeding our homeless and offering shelter on these cold nights. It’s having a whip round to send a sick local kid for treatment abroad. It’s what us locals do best and it’s unconditional.

My opinion is that Mr Amess may have done us a favour. If, by his comments, he has done for us, then so be it.

Trevor Murdin

Flemming Crescent


...Jim Clinkscales is right. We in Southend have no need to slag off our competitors for the title City of Culture when our town is so rich in just that. We have been called the “musical borough”, but our culture is so much wider, although I admit “the visually artistic, theatrical, historical, horticultural and musical borough” is not quite so catchy. All we need to do is demonstrate the scale and standard of our artistic activity, professional and amateur, so the judges can appreciate it and, with some effort from the council, we can win. One big help would be the development of an affordable 400-seater auditorium for our smaller groups and schools to showcase their talents. The shore end of the pier would be a great place for a community theatre with a convenient car park under the Cliff Gardens to help bring it to life. I hope the Southend Arts Council and all its associated societies will rise up and demand the facilities they need to show the rest of the country what we in Southend already know ...City of Culture – we’re it!

Ric Morgan

Hobleythick Lane