MEET Adam Hawksbee. He’s the new Government-appointed tzar who is charged with blitzing low-level crime, improving the High Street and boosting public transport on Canvey through a £20 million cash injection.

Mr Hawksbee, who was appointed “town tzar” for the new Towns Unit by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, visited Canvey last week to discuss with residents and community groups how the island can best benefit from the £20million boost.

The funding forms part of the Government’s “long-term plan for towns” and is to be handed to a town board to be appointed by June 1.

It will consist of a chair who is independent and likely to be a Canvey business owner alongside councillors, Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and faith leaders, residents group members and others selected by the chair.

When asked by the Echo about the way the money can and will be used, Mr Hawksbee noted that the only parameters are three key areas of focus – safety and security, the High Street and connectivity.

Echo: Challenges - Adam HawksbeeChallenges - Adam Hawksbee (Image: Adam Hawksbee)

Mr Hawksbee said: “We have three key areas of focus, the first is using this money to help tackle low level crime and making sure that community groups that tackle antisocial behaviour are funded to do that.

“The High Street and the centre in Canvey, particularly the shopping centre, also needs care and attention which this money can help with. We want support groups that are looking to run events to get involved and help to support it.

“The third focus is on connectivity, there are areas of Canvey that are deprived and others that are affluent, this could be linked together by improving public transport, cycling lanes and walking routes.”

Mr Hawksbee emphasised that where the money goes will not be up to him, but the town board and although a hefty sum he warned: “This money - £20 million - if not targeted can go very quickly, it cannot go across 20 projects, it needs to be community-led and focus on two or three projects.”

He said the High Street “is in a position to attract a massive amount of footfall” and Canvey Lake - which has long been criticised - could be set for a boost.

He added: “Those are real assets and if they were improved, in the lake’s case, by improving lighting and the environmental quality, it would massively help.”

Other potential targets for the money could be the Paddocks community centre, which is currently undergoing a £1.5million refurbishment project and maybe a “splash park”. The £20 million could be used as a bridge to achieving private investment.

Pressure is mounting over the long-held ambition to realise a third route off the island in an effort to stop the daily jams plunging south Essex into chaos.

The proposal for a third road off the island has been high on the agenda for decades and a new road has even been touted from Northwick Road on Canvey over to Manor Way in Stanford-le-Hope.

While the money can’t be spent on a new road it is hoped it can be a catalyst to get plans in motion.

When asked about the long-campaigned for Canvey third road, Mr Hawksbee said: “It is a challenge, £20 million won’t go that far to create a third road but what it can do is act as a bridge and a catalyst for acquiring Department for Transport funding.”