SOUTHEND’S Tories are confident they will be able to fulfill election promises to continue weekly black bin collections and restore street lights, despite facing an £18million financial black hole.

Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Conservative group and Southend Council, admitted “tough decisions” will have to be made after it was revealed the council is facing a shortfall of £18.8million during the 2025/26 financial year.

Ahead of this May’s local elections – which saw the Tories take control of Southend Council – Mr Cox’s party promised to keep weekly black sack collections and restoring street lights to full power.

Under the previous administration, plans were touted for fortnightly black sack collections, rather than the current weekly collections.

Mr Cox said: “Yes, we are still progressing with our promises at the moment. We are looking at the waste contracts and it still remains our desire to fulfil this.

“But we will always have to keep a close eye on the finances to get out of this mess. The challenges in the current climate relate to high levels of inflation and the continuing demand on adult and children’s social care with low levels of government funding.

“Difficult choices will need to be made.”

In Southend, the council tax rise equated to £63.68 per person, while the cash shortfall equates to £104.10 per person living in the city.

Daniel Cowan, leader of Labour councillors at Southend Council: “What these figures demonstrate is the cumulative effect of poor government policy and the Government underfunding local councils.

“It is becoming a bit of a theme, year on year, that council leaders say difficult choices have to be made, but I think we are long past that.

“Councils have cut so much they are through the marrow and the government needs to urgently review its settlement offer for local councils.

“I think fortunately Southend Council are well managed but on the other hand I feel the anger and frustrations of residents as services continue to be cut.”

Elsewhere in south Essex, Thurrock Council is looking at a cumulative shortfall of £521million for 2025/26, and has approved a staggering 9.9 per cent council tax rise to save just over £8million. Essex County Council has a predicted shortfall of £63million for the same period and has approved a 3,5 per cent increase to save £36million.