The long-held dream of a "Greater Southend" taking in Rochford and Castle Point looks likely finally to be dumped.

Southend Council cabinet members will be recommended at a meeting on Tuesday not to submit a bid for enlarged unitary status.

Under the latest Government White Paper on local government, councils could seek to increase their area of control if they submitted a bid by the end of this month.

In a report to the cabinet, chief executive Rob Tinlin said: "Southend could make a bid, either on its own or with others, for enlarged unitary status."

He said while a bigger council covering south-east Essex could provide benefits through economies of scale, there was not enough time to generate support for a strong bid.

Mr Tinlin said there was a stronger emphasis on competition for services and the council would have to continue to look at ways of testing the market for services that had traditionally been dealt with by council staff.

The abandonment of enlargement plans is likely to be welcome to Castle Point and Rochford councils.

Rochford has always set itself against amalgamation with Southend because of concerns it would mean major development on the area's green belt and less input into decision-making on local issues.