PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has been called on to make Southend a city and give Basildon independence from Essex County Council.

During his first full day in office a letter was sent from Basildon Council leader Gavin Callaghan while Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, questioned him in the house of Commons.


Arrived - Boris Johnson arrives at Number 10. Picture: PA


Help! - Gavin Callaghan

Sir David said: “In this new spirit of optimism on the Government Benches, will my Right Hon. Friend tell one of his ministers to organise a city status competition, so at long last Southend can become a city?”

And Mr Johnson has agreed to hold a competition for a new British city.

He said: “Mr Speaker, I think I have no alternative, but to answer in the affirmative to that question.”

Basildon’s Labour leader Mr Callaghan set out six areas where he wants support.

He called for the Prime Minister to lift the threat of a charging zone around the A127, after a 50mph speed limit was implemented between the Fortune of War and the Pound Lane junction.

In the past, Callaghan has stated that charging motorists to use the A127 would be “a completely inappropriate response”, which was threatened by the Government in a bid to try and reduce air pollution.

The Basildon Council leader has also asked the new prime minister for assistance in stopping the permitted developments of offices to flats without planning approval amid claims too many conversions are resulting in cramped and poor quality accommodation across the borough.

Basildon Council is considering a bid to become a unitary authority, in line with Southend and Thurrock, splitting from Essex County Council control.

It would mean Basildon Council would take over control of some highways, social services, public health and libraries.

He also called for the controversial Felmores bail hostel to be shut.

In the letter, he stated: “For the past decade the presence of the Felmores approved premise has blighted a vulnerable community.

“After its change of use from a bail hostel to an approved premise, Basildon has been forced to live with the reality that high risk offenders, released on license, guilty of heinous crimes including against children, are housed yards away from a park, two primary schools and one of the poorest estates in the county of Essex. Basildon has taken its fair share. It is time now for a Government to listen to us and to remove this facility from our borough.”

Finally, Mr Callaghan expressed the importance of ensuring towns are not forgotten when it comes to the opportunities that Brexit will bring and providing certainty for local government financing beyond next April.

He said: “Seventy years after a Labour government brought Basildon new town into existence, you could be the Prime Minister to kick start the next chapter of untold success and opportunity.”

Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point, has also laid out her priorities for the Prime Minister.

She wants Boris Johnson to focus on education, infrastructure and policing in her constituency and around south Essex to improve the region.