Calls to make Southend a town in honor of Sir David Amess’ 21-year campaign

Could Southend follow in Chelmsford’s footsteps in Essex? (Photo: Getty)

MPs said giving Southend town status would be a “fitting memorial” to its late local MP Sir David Amess who was assassinated yesterday.

The 69-year-old saw it as one of his goals in politics and lobbied for 21 years to make this a reality.

There now appears to be cross-party support for the resort town of Essex to be re-designated as town when the winning nominations are selected as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.

Sir David spoke about it on Thursday, the day before he died after being stabbed multiple times during constituency surgery at a church.

He said he was in Qatar on Wednesday and discussed Southend’s candidacy with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

He told BBC Radio Essex: “I hope Qatar supports him. I know the majority of Southend people would welcome a Qatari investment in Southend.”

Sir David added: “If the House of Commons wants to silence me like the city wears it, they have to give it to us.” Because I spent all of my time mentioning it on every conceivable occasion.

“It’s obvious, the benefits are enormous. We involve the local residents with the situation, we have some great events planned and we have a wonderful team of people putting together our offer, so I’m really excited about the prospect.

MPs said giving Southend town status would be a

Southend on Sea, Essex, England April 17, 2021. Looking east from the cliffs on Adventure Island and Southend Pier.  The Gokart area in the foreground and the Thames estuary in the background.

Southend Adventure Island and Pier are popular attractions in the city (Photo: Getty)

Aerial view of skyline at Southend on sea village in sunset light, England - Great Britain
A superb Southend sunset (Photo: Getty)

“It could absolutely turn things around in Southend and spark civic pride.”

His neighbor, Tory MP James Duddridge, who represents Rochford and Southend East, is also behind the plan.

He said: “A successful bid would energize our economy and bring new investment, putting Southend firmly on the map, both across the country and around the world.”

Kingswood Tory MP Chris Skidmore said Sir David would “constantly harass me” over Southend’s city status.

Strictly editorial use only.  UK EDITORIAL USE ONLY.  No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixtures, club / league logos or “live” services.  Online match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation.  No use in betting, games or any single club / league / player's publications Mandatory Credit: Photo by Graham Whitby Boot / SUFC / REX / Shutterstock (12539398a) Former Mayor of Southend Judith McMahon, Mayor of Southend Fay Evans, Sir David Amess, MP for Southend Town Crier for West and Southend, attended the match.  SUFC vs. BFC, UK - Sep 30, 2017
Left to right: Former Southend Mayor Judith McMahon, Mayor Fay Evans, Sir David, MP and Town Crier at a Southend United FC game (Photo: Rex / Shutterstock)

Southend on Sea, Essex England April 17, 2021. Restrictions were relaxed on April 12, 2021 and it was the first day outdoor dining could take place after many months of business shutdowns.  The picturesque old arches across from Southend Pier were open for alfresco dining and people were out soaking up the sun and supporting local businesses.  Looking down from the Pier Bridge.
Al fresco dining on the picturesque old arches of the waterfront (Photo: Getty)

Mr Skidmore said: ‘He once told me that it was his one big ambition in Parliament that he would one day see Southend become a town.

“It became a running joke every time he brought it up, but he was passionately serious about making it happen.”

He added: “Tragically, he will never see this moment happen, but it would be a fitting memorial for a man who dedicated his life and ultimately gave it to his community.”

Warrington North Labor MP Charlotte Nichols said: “Absolutely; I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory.

Councils were asked to throw their town’s hat into the ring for town status, with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council known to be interested.

Reading, Newport in the Isle of Wight, Boston in Lincolnshire, Dudley in the West Midlands, Medway in Kent, Wrexham in Wales and Middlesbrough are also considered enthusiastic.

Town status was awarded in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Chelmsford, another town in Essex, as well as Perth in Scotland and Little St Asaph in Wales.

MORE: Murdered MP wrote that attacks on politicians ‘could happen to any of us’

MORE: Obituary of Sir David Amess: longtime Tory MP who has championed animal rights

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