SOUTHEND’S new administration is hoping to “make the city sparkle again” as it looks to bring back the iconic illuminations and turn it into an events hotspot.

Yesterday, the new Labour-led council released its aim for the city including boosting trade and tourism by hosting dozens of big events throughout the year to attract residents from across the county.

As part of the plan, councillors will work towards introducing a “modern version of the Southend Illuminations” which saw the seafront lit up by bright lights in the 1930s - similar to the world famous Blackpool Illuminations.

Senior Labour councillor Matt Dent also said he hopes LuminoCity - which saw hundreds of thousands of visitors head to Southend to see light installations - can return after being scrapped to help tackle the council’s financial blackhole.

Alongside a modern version of the Southend Illuminations, the Labour, Lib Dem, and Independent administration want to introduce “20 weeks of events on the pier” and at least “six major events across the city” - every year.

Mr Dent added: “We saw how successful LuminoCity was, there was a gap when it didn’t take place this year. The draw of that to Southend and businesses was really missed.

“The gap needs to be filled. We want to see a series of events like that.

“I’ve only been in cabinet two days, so there is still a lot of finding out to do, but it is on our agenda to deliver an attraction of that kind in Southend.”

The council is also taking inspiration from the success of the visit of the replica Spanish warship - the El Galeon - in May 2023 to utilise the city’s 1.3mile pier for events.

Mr Dent added: “What we saw last year was the success of the El Galeon, it really brought a real draw to Southend Pier. It was something new and exciting.

“Our feeling is, more than just permanent attractions at the pier, it is about rotating a series of attractions to make people want to come and see what is going on.

“If you put new events on, people will travel. We want a tourism strategy that encompasses the whole city, really making the most of it as a whole, not just along the golden mile.”

The LuminoCity did not happen in 2024 as there was no budget allocated as the council faced a £10.7million deficit.

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “It is quite explicit in their five-point plan, bringing back events like LuminoCity. It was cut out the budget so it couldn’t go ahead last year. It is likely a broken promise already.”