SOUTHEND Conservatives have been accused of incompetence over plans to remove the town’s millennium clock at Victoria Circus.

The clock, outside the Victoria shopping centre, in the town centre, was installed to mark the new millennium ten years ago.

However, the clock has not worked for years and senior Tory councillors recently agreed to pay £5,000 to remove it and place it in storage.

The clock was designed by a Southend schoolgirl following a council-run competition in the town’s schools.

Lib Dem leader Graham Longley, who was mayor at the millennium, said: “It’s outrageous.

“That’s part of our history, but it has to be pulled down because we can’t get it to work.

“As the millennium mayor, I’m sad and disappointed.

“A little girl designed the clock face in a competition which was held at the time. I wonder how she might feel?”

Mr Longley said he contacted council chief executive Rob Tinlin to express his disappointment and Mr Tinlin said he would review the situation and see if there were other options.

Southend Tory cabinet member for tourism John Lamb recently said the millennium clock had suffered from “prolonged exposure to the elements”.

He added they had hoped to move it rather than put it in storage, but could not find a suitable location.

The council is aiming to find a replacement clock as part of plans to redevelop the town centre.

Mr Longley added: “The basic problem is the clock is not waterproof.

“Rather than spend £5,000 on taking it down, why don’t they spend it on waterproofing the clock and hoping it stays?

“Across the country, there are thousands of clocks outside that work every day.”

Mr John Lamb said: “We would expect Graham Longley to criticise the decision.

“It is a shame. No one would like to see the clock removed, but it doesn’t operate in the weather and it costs a fortune to keep it going.

“The design of the clock doesn’t allow it to be waterproof.”