A new swimming pool, two new music festivals and a new homeless shelter are to be funded under the annual Basildon Council budget.

The council’s budget, which covers cities like Basildon, Wickford, Pitsea, Laindon and Billericay, was approved in a full council meeting last Thursday (February 25).

Within the budget there are millions of pounds for ambitious new projects as well as funding for existing areas such as Wat Tyler Country Park, Brooke House and the Laindon Community Center.

Last week Council Chairman Cllr Gavin Callaghan said: “I am very pleased that our budget for the coming fiscal year was approved by the Full Council yesterday evening (Thursday 25 February) and includes significant investments in community safety, art, culture and housing .

“I have great ambitions for our community and this budget will help make Basildon a safe, inclusive and prosperous place for all.”

The following is included in the ambitious annual budget of the Basildon Council.

New projects

What the Basildon Youth Zone might look like when it is built

This year’s budget includes a number of new projects across Basildon.

That includes a brand new £ 1.6 million homeless shelter to be built somewhere in Basildon.

Cllr Callaghan said, “Homelessness that I know is a big problem for many people in the community.

“I’m contacted every week about homelessness.”

He added, “I put £ 1.6million into the budget so we could build a homeless shelter in Basildon 24/7, 365 days a year.

“So, each of our rough sleepers, if they want accommodation, they will have accommodation for an evening 365 days a year.”

Cllr Callaghan also mentioned a £ 300,000 annual fund to increase all-round support for the homeless and address issues related to addiction, debt, housing, domestic violence and other issues.

In addition to the new shelter, 700 new meetinghouses will be built in Basildon, including 500 houses in the city center, as part of huge house building plans in different parts of the city center.

Major housing developments are being approved across Basildon

The budget has provided funds for two new music festivals, one in Basildon and one in Wickford, called New Town Sounds and WickFest, as well as for Basildon’s first digital film festival.

Two large format screens are also proposed for Basildon’s new development in East Square and for St. Martin’s Square further west in the city.

Cllr Callaghan said these would be used to broadcast events like the World Cup and Wimbledon.

Plans have been announced for a technical university in Basildon that will involve close interaction with local businesses such as Natwest Bank and Ford.

There will also be 100 new charging stations for electric vehicles, new park rangers for patrol parks and public spaces, and funds for three police officers to patrol the district’s three major city centers.

There will also be a new community center and library for Pitsea and a new health center for downtown Basildon.

Funding has also been raised for projects announced in last year’s budget that have been delayed by Covid-19, including a new swimming pool at Eversley Leisure Center in Pitsea, a new area in South Essex, and a £ 10m upgrade for the town of Wickford center and a new £ 8m youth zone to be built near Basildon town center.

Additions and renovations

Brooke House is going through a major renovation

In addition to the groundbreaking new projects announced in the budget, significant funds have been allocated for additions and renovations across the district.

The main announcement was £ 6 million worth of repairs and renovations to Brooke House, the landmark of Basildon Town Center, which was built in the 1970s.

The block is currently the tallest building in the city and has been criticized as outdated and de facto as a slum.

However, Cllr Callaghan announced that parts of the block would be modernized.

He said, “We are investing £ 6 million in the restoration and renovation of Brooke House.

“This will finally fix all the flaws in Brooke House.

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“There are problems with the windows, with the elevators, with the ventilation, with the electrics, with the water, with security, with the arrangement of some floors.

“We know this is a Grade I listed building so it has its challenges, but we’ll do that because it’s important.”

Elsewhere in the district, a lot is being invested in the run-down Laindon Community Center to restore it to a usable state.

In addition, £ 10 million will be allocated to improve facilities for the disabled over a 10 year period, including the creation of changing room toilets for Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea and Basildon town center.

Other things announced

Empire development should be completed in 2022

Empire development is expected to be completed in 2022

A key issue that has sparked controversy in Basildon in recent years has been to turn off streetlights overnight, a decision that was swiftly reversed by the Labor Alliance council when it came to power in Basildon in April 2019.

Cllr Callaghan has pledged funds to turn the lights on overnight for the next year.

£ 3 million will be allocated to improve the public space in Basildon city center, including the installation of trees, grass, walkways, lighting and art.

Five new community forests are also being planted across the district to keep Basildon green.

Cllr Callaghan added, “It’s an exciting budget.

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“I know this year has been a difficult year for a lot of people. This financial pressure will not stop once the ban is lifted and I understand that.

“That’s why we tried to take as many protective measures as possible, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“The vaccine is progressing rapidly, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and closer every day.”

Here is the full list of key Council announcements in this year’s budget:

  • Council tax frozen for a second year
  • £ 8 million investment in a brand new youth zone
  • £ 9 million for pools in Pitsea and Billericay
  • 500 new meetinghouses for downtown Basildon
  • Next Steps – £ 1.6 million for homeless shelters
  • Continuing funding to keep streetlights lit throughout the district throughout the night
  • Community Safety Enforcement Officers to patrol parks and public spaces
  • £ 50,000 for tree planting this year
  • Garden walls for flyovers on the A127 Nevendon and Pipps Hill and the A13 Pitsea
  • £ 3 million for the Basildon City Center public kingdom – trees, grass, sidewalks, lighting and art
  • Changing room toilets for Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea and Basildon town center
  • 100 new charging stations for electric vehicles
  • South Essex Arena comes to Basildon
  • School holiday program
  • Our streets phone app for waste and recycling services
  • £ 2Million Basildon Borough First Time Buyer Grant
  • £ 10 million for disabled facilities over 10 years old
  • £ 6 million for the renovation of the Brooke House apartment block in Basildon town center
  • Five new community timbers are to be created
  • £ 25,000 Commercial Rent Hardship Fund for Commercial Tenants
  • Major investment in the Laindon Community Center
  • Brand new community center in Pitsea
  • Summer Music Festival for Wickford
  • Summer music festival for Basildon
  • First digital film festival
  • Towngate Theater upgrades including commercial restaurant and bar
  • £ 10 million for Wickford regeneration
  • Brand new health center for downtown Basildon
  • The technical university campus is slated to open in Basildon in 2023
  • Basildon consulting business
  • Friendly service phone app for community services
  • £ 3 million Investing in Futures Grant – Construction of kindergartens and sixth grade colleges