LEADING Southend councillors threw their weight behind Blues’ stadium move as they compared it to West Ham’s switch to the Olympic Stadium.

Concerns have been raised over the plans for a 20,000-seat stadium and 850 homes at Fossetts Farm with the Blues sitting rock bottom of League Two and batting £500,000 in debt in recent months.

Chairman Ron Martin cleared the debt in October but councillors compared the situation to that of West Ham in 2016 at a council cabinet meeting which considered the latest stages of the plans.

West Ham were fighting for Premier League survival and had finance issues of their own when they moved from Upton Park to Stratford’s Olympic Stadium.

Anne Jones, Labour councillor in charge of children and learning, insisted the Hammers’ move should be a sign of things to come for Southend.

She said: “This sits with the vision and values Southend Council has. We can draw on similarities from West Ham when they moved from the iconic Boleyn ground. It’s a similar situation.

“Their move has been a success, despite the pressures of the credit crunch.”

The plans were discussed by Southend Council’s cabinet yesterday, with questions raised over the amount of affordable homes and the impact on traffic.

Ron Woodley, deputy council leader, said: “There will be disruption but the opportunity for the population of this town is enormous. We have so much opportunity for people here.”

Up to 850 new homes will be part of the scheme.

Council leader Ian Gilbert said more than 400 of which would be “genuinely affordable”.

He said: “This would create 600 jobs when under construction and 1,000 in the long term. Combined with Queensway, this will bring £1billion of private investment into Southend.”

The Echo revealed Citizen Housing – fronted by Ron Martin’s son, Jack – were the driving force behind the project.