I must respond to arrogant ex-councillor Anna Waite on behalf of us riff-raff drug addicts, benefit claimants, single mums and drunks.

Who does she think she is?

The demise of our High Street is down to one factor only. It is the council policy of using a no-mercy parking company to bleed Southend motorists dry.

Every day there is yet another parking initiative to get even more cash out of us victims.

If you wish to shop in the High Street, firstly there is a parking toll of £3 to £5 to add to your purchases and, if you are a little forgetful, the vulture wardens will slap on fines of £70.

Be wary of parking on any yellow line for more than a minute. They are hovering. It is now a revenue raising industry.

Why does Lakeside advertise 14,000 free parking places?

Should fuel get cheaper, the High Street will die.

Len Lierens
Southchurch Road

...It makes me irate when I read Anna Waite’s claims single mums and druggies spoil the High Street.

Most of the shops have shut down because of higher rents and rates. People out of work cannot afford the big shop prices.

Mrs Evenett
Cheddar Avenue

...Anna Waite blames single parents and poor people for the decline of Southend High Street. She and her Tory group have resided over this decline for years now and it is mostly because of their greedy failed policies of high business rates, high parking fees and incompetent management that deter retail businesses from the town centre.

This council’s policy is to force as much money from everything it can. It should have concentrated on incentivising businesses to come here by slashing council charges by 90 per cent and banning parking charges for at least two years.

How will this be paid for?

Repay £50million borrowings which is sitting in the bank earning us nothing, but costing £4million interest each year. Slashing by 50 per cent overpaid executives’ salaries.

Do not use consultants or quangos. Stop useless building schemes which make traffic congestion worse. Abolish cabinet allowances and cut councillors allowances by half and don’t buy useless street art.

David Shindler
George Street

...Anna Waite was quoted as saying that “druggies and single mothers are killing the High Street” followed by the choice phrase “Southend’s shops are dying because the High Street is surrounded by single mothers”.

The same single mothers who congregate all day in the coffee shops to socialise over a Starbucks and relax in comfy chairs?

The same single mothers who work part time on the supermarket checkouts to cover the busy lunchtime shifts while their children are at school?

The same single mothers who buy their baby clothes from Primark and, heaven forbid, Next and H&M?

Believe me, if I had my way, I’d be married with two incomes and a nice family business, too.

But unfortunately, I am not.

I gave up my well-paid job in order to be a better parent to my child.

I’m not in the best financial state, but my pennies go back into the town centre, as it’s where I live!

Generalisations like Ms Waites’s make me livid that we are all tarred with an ugly brush from those who have no idea what it is like to live a day in my shoes.

New lighting, pavements and bins will not bring people to the town centre.

Might I suggest free parking on weekends, like the large shopping centres do? More shops, more shoppers.

As for building houses, as Thoreau said: “What is the use of a house when you haven’t a tolerable society to build it on?”

Ms Jack Monroe
Royal Mews