This pretty mural can’t hide what’s been done…

What has been done is that an area underneath a derelict office block on Elmer Approach in Southend town centre was boarded up to deter homeless people from using it as an impromptu shelter. The authorities in Southend don’t want homeless people in the town centre because they’re seen as an obstacle to the image of the place they want to present to the public. Namely one of a town centre that’s turning around its fortunes against the odds… The problem is that anyone who knows Southend knows that’s bollocks as the hulk of the former BHS store on the High Street still sitting there empty along with numerous other empty shop units and charity shops will testify.

Southend Business Improvement District (BID) can’t seem to face the truth that the town centre is struggling and are attempting to cover it up with cosmetic murals on the hardboard / chipboard fronting yet another embarrassingly empty building. We’ve been treated to the cringeworthy slogans on the front of the former BHS store which resulted in a wave of abuse from pissed off locals. This latest mural on the hoardings in Elmer Approach is another example of Southend BID attempting to polish a turd…

We will however concede that the artwork in Elmer Approach is technically a f**k sight better than the ‘typography’ on the front of the former BHS store! We’re not knocking the artist responsible for the Elmer Approach mural – we just hope they got paid for doing it. The point we want to make is that it’s a shame the artistic talent that abounds in Southend is being cynically exploited by the likes of Southend BID.

It’s not what’s on the hoardings on Elmer Approach that bothers us – it’s the fact they’re there in the first place. The hoardings symbolise the contempt the authorities have for anyone who’s had a bad run of luck and find themselves without a roof over their heads fending for themselves on the streets. A situation made worse by harassment and being made to feel unwelcome anywhere in the town centre by the powers that be.

What makes the situation truly sickening is the fact these hoardings are sitting underneath a fair few stories of derelict office block. Which if the length of time other former office blocks have been / still are left empty is anything to go by, don’t expect anything to happen with this one any time soon. This shows up the utter absurdity of the political, economic and social system we have to live under. Rather than leave yet another office block lying empty for what could be years, the rational and compassionate thing to do would be to convert it into sheltered accommodation for the homeless and vulnerable with professional support on hand to help them get back on their feet. Once they’re getting back on their feet, ensure there’s enough of the genuinely affordable social housing that’s so desperately needed to give them a secure base to rebuild their lives.

We’ll probably be accused of demanding the impossible. Bollocks…we’re not demanding the impossible, we’re demanding what’s right. If the political, economic and social system we have can’t provide that, then let’s tear it down and build a society that will provide what’s right! That’s what being truly radical is about…


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