Westminster Report by Anna Firth, MP for Southend West

Incivility and speeding: how to deal with these threats?

ANTISOCIAL behavior and speeding – these are not necessarily the most high-profile issues that a new MP would choose to prioritize. However, for the people of Southend West these are burning issues, and I am absolutely determined to ensure that something is done to address these issues.

We all know how wonderful Leigh is, with the fantastic old town one of the highlights of the area. Indeed, just this month, the Sunday Times declared the city one of the best places to live in the whole of the UK. I can totally understand why so many visitors want to come and enjoy our beautiful region, especially during the summer months.

However, too often our local community has fallen victim to horrific anti-social behavior. We should not have to tolerate people coming to our town and taking drugs, threatening each other, disturbing and damaging local businesses and homes.

I am absolutely determined to ensure that this summer, local residents do not have to endure this kind of behavior. I have actively engaged with the police on this, and recently held a meeting with our local police community support officer, Paul Hogben, to discuss what more can be done to ensure that this crime is prevented and fought.

Last year in Leigh we organized Operation Union which was a huge success in the town. This saw additional and more visible police patrols on evenings and weekends throughout the summer, and also helped in the fight against gangs in the area.

I am pushing for this operation to return this summer, so that everyone can enjoy our territory in complete safety. I also support the work of Pub Watch, which empowers our local pubs and bars to tackle street drinking, drug dealing and underage drinking.

I am delighted that, as part of the Home Office’s drive to increase the number of police on our streets, we are getting 10 extra police in Southend. This means we will have 15 officers and this will go a long way to making residents feel safer when traveling through our city. However, we must ensure that these officers are deployed where they will be most effective.

I will work with the police and local community to ensure resources are deployed to the right places at the right time. Much of the anti-social behavior people experience is unfortunately predictable – Friday and Saturday nights and holidays are always times when extra police are needed, as well as when there are big sporting events such as Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte on Saturday April 23.

However, additional police alone will not be enough to eradicate crime locally.

I am also campaigning for a new mobile “search pole” that can help detect hidden knives. These state-of-the-art knife sticks utilize a full body scanning system and have been shown to reduce knife crime incidents when used by other forces. A few years ago we were promised CCTV cameras at Old Leigh but unfortunately they were not installed. I continue the campaign to install them.

Unfortunately, antisocial behavior is not the only problem local people face.

Speeding is one of the most common issues that people tell me about, not only via email, but also during the regular street surgeries I host around the riding.

I’m not surprised by this, I live on Marine Parade and we have endless problems with people driving too fast endangering everyone around them. It’s a repeated problem across the city, with people particularly concerned about New Road, Leigh Hill, Cliff Parade and Grand Parade.

I have already raised these concerns with the Chief Executive of Southend Council, and have been assured that further measurements of average speeds will be taken. However, assuming that the intervention threshold is reached, the key issue is to agree on the necessary measures.

I’m launching a speeding survey on my new website (www.Annafirth.org.uk), which will be open until July. I would be very grateful if as many people as possible could fill it out.

As always, if you have any questions you would like to discuss with me, please contact me: Web: annafirth.org.uk Email: [email protected] or phone: 020 7219 4098.


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