LIGHTING the seafront, pier and powering the new pier trains could all be put under scrutiny as Southend Council prepares for winter amid soaring energy bills.

The council says discussions are ongoing over measures to reduce its electricity usage.

While no decisions have been made, the council says no options are off the table.

The Echo questioned the council on whether the pier lighting or new pier electric trains may be put on hold over the winter, but council would not confirm either way.

Paul Collins, responsible for asset management and inward investment, says the council’s service’s budget is under strain.

“Despite strong financial management, our budget for local services has been under pressure for over a decade now, with reduced central Government funding and increased demand for services which are costing more to provide due to issues such as rising inflation and the cost of energy and fuel,” he said.

"Like all councils and households across the country, Southend Council is looking at a broad variety of cost-saving measures and reduction in energy use, but no decisions in this area have been made yet. Further discussions will remain ongoing before any decisions are made.”

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Conservative’s, warned the electric trains – currently out of order and needing repairs – could become a financial black hole.

“Running those news trains is going to get expensive, but as are the old diesel trains with the rising costs of fuel,” he said.

“Inflationary costs are going to put a lot of pressure on the council’s attractions in the coming months.”

The news comes as cities across Europe trial energy saving schemes to protect the public purse.

In Berlin, the local authority is switching off spotlights illuminating its historic buildings and monuments to save cash.

While in France, several regions are currently trialling measures to fully switch off public lighting at night.

Councillor Matt Dent says “full and frank” discussions need to be had in the coming weeks over the possibility of similar schemes in Southend.

He said: “As energy bills go up, and as the council’s budget feels the affect of the cost-of-living crisis, we will need to consider every option.

“But a balance needs to be found, as an environment with reduced lighting is one that impairs safety.”