Low paid council workers could be in for a raise after the borough’s new administration confirmed its priorities.

The joint administration had previously released a list of things it hopes to achieve, including more housing for low-income and key workers.


Ambitious - Ian Gilbert

But now it has included a pledge to become a “living wage employer” which, if linked to the Living Wage Foundation assessments of national incomes, would mean no council employee - including eventually council contractors - would earn less than £9 an hour. Work is under way to confirm how many people this would affect and how much it would cost.

Currently, the Government’s minimum wage rate is £8.21 per hour.

Authority bosses say they are also focussing on community safety, the environment, improving street lighting, roads and pavements and enhancing skills and apprenticeships available to local people.

Selective licensing to tackle rogue private landlords is still on the agenda, as is a review of parking and transport in the borough but a previous specific aim to build a multi-storey car park in Tylers Avenue and another in Leigh are missing.

Other previous pledges which have also gone are improving children’s centres, providing extra care beds and a vow to support services at Southend Hospital, though the council says it will “look after the most vulnerable residents”.

The alliance has repeated its aim to crack on with long-proposed new health centres in Shoebury and elsewhere in the town while additional policing remains on the agenda.

Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of the council, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to formally set out our key priorities as a new administration.

“The detailed engagement work that took place in 2018 enabled residents to tell us what they wanted for the future of the borough, but also what they want in the here and now. We are committed to remaining ambitious for the borough, but also dealing with the challenges of today, including providing more housing in the borough, addressing community safety and improving the quality of our roads and pavements and ensuring that local people have the opportunity to gain the skills they need.”