CAMPAIGNING councillors say they would back a new riverboat link from Southend to London to mirror a similar scheme being launched across the Thames in Kent.

The new regular service will soon link the Capital to Kent, prompting calls for a possible connection from London to Southend.

Council bosses admit that the topic has been under the discussion for several years. And while there are currently no concrete proposals, Southend councillors have welcomed the idea.

Matt Dent said: “I think it would be brilliant to have that link to the Capital. It is probably not something for commuters but from a tourism point of view it would be fantastic.

“It would be brilliant for tourists as it would be another way to get to Southend from London and it’s something that’s different too - it’s more interesting as the journey itself is also a tourist attraction.”

Cabinet member, Martin Terry, felt a wave of nostalgia for trips abroad, saying that he would use the boat himself.

He said: “It would be absolutely fantastic, I would very much support this idea.

“I have been in Southend all my life and we used to have steamers going from the pier, over to Margate, or to France, so anything like that where we are using the resources, we have is great.

“At the moment too, the council is spending a lot of money over the next few years on refurbishing parts of the pier. I think if someone comes up with something, it then I would even go on it myself!”

Southend seafront business owners shared the same view of the idea.

Paul Thompson, owner of Pebbles One Cafe on the seafront, said: “I think it would be something that I would welcome.

“Any new ways of bringing people into Southend and getting people down from London is really good.

“In my opinion, it would need to be a fast boat, but I think it’s a good idea and something different to get more people down to Southend.”

There is currently a commercial company that runs a boat service operating between Southend Pier and the Medway towns in Kent, which has been running for several years.

Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of Southend Council, said that the potential riverboat had been under discussion for several years, although it still lay some way in the future.

He said: “There’s currently a commercial company that provide a service between Southend and Kent, and it was interesting to hear the news about the private Kent to London service.

“Discussions that were originally started in 2020, as part of wider work with councils across south Essex, are continuing.

“The idea of providing a river route from Southend to London remains a long-term aspiration locally, but there are no immediate proposals at this time.”

Would you like to see a riverboat service from London to Southend? Or are there other big ambitions which you think could transform the town?

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