Unnecessary double yellow lines on roads off Southend High Street are to be removed and replaced with disabled parking bays, it has been announced.

The plan means disabled visitors to the town centre will soon be able to park closer to shops.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting yesterday, deputy leader Ron Woodley said the extra bays will be part of the authority’s town-wide parking strategy which is still being put together.

He said: “As part of our review of parking in town centre we have looked at bringing part of parking strategy forward and we are looking to remove double yellow lines where they are no longer needed and, subject to viability, will install disabled parking bays so people can park closer to shops in town centre. This will mean disabled drivers will no longer need to drive around the town centre trying to find a suitable spot. All of these new bays will be very close to the shops.”

Details of the specific roads are yet to be announced.

Mr Woodley made the announcement as the cabinet also approved the proposed budget for 2020.

The budget, which outlines the council’s spending plans from April, was approved after being scrutinised in a series of committees. So far, no issues have been raised.

The plans will bring a 3.99 per cent increase in council tax – an extra £55 a year – primarily to help fund a £5.7million increase in spending for adult and children’s social care.

Also in the budget is a promise to spend £9.5million to buy up private homes and transform them into council homes.

The funding will be spent over a five-year period and council leader Ian Gilbert says it could result in an extra 60 homes.

Mr Gilbert said: “The aim of this budget is to safeguard council services not just now but in the long term.” Approval from the cabinet was expected ahead of a full council meeting next week, where the Tory group plan to submit a number of amendments.

Anne Jones, who oversees children and learning, added: “Capital investment and revenue investment into social care Is very much welcomed. We have more children coming into social care, and we need to prevent that, so this reversal of cuts is welcomed.”

Councillor Carole Mulroney who oversees the environment also praised Mr Woodley’s announcement of additional parking bays calling it a “really good way” to further assist disabled residents.

The Conservative group has already begun publicising a raft of changes including the idea of building an amphitheatre at the top of the High Street and compulsory purchase orders for empty properties.

The Tories are also keen to push through two-hour free parking on roads off the High Street, a policy which is likely to clash with Mr Woodley’s disabled bays.

Questions have also been raised about how the Tories would fund the ideas and what cuts would need to be made elsewhere to make them possible.