The Royal Society of Arts launched the Heritage Index in London this week and it shows a mixed position for Southend-on-Sea. The index scores the heritage attributes of all towns or areas across England and these include everything from historic buildings, sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs such as the estuary), Heritage Lottery funding, local heritage events and much more. Southend scores at an amazing 7th place out of 325 for heritage assets placing it in the top 2.2%. If only that were the whole picture. Sadly the town also scores 256th for heritage activities, more or less the bottom 1/5th of the index. Unfortunately this is borne out by our experience in the town, particularly Council involvement in our heritage.

This demonstrates the huge opportunity that exists for significant improvement in community collaboration to open up the real life experience of local heritage in Southend. This is what we hope our work will help to see unfold in Hamlet Court Road but it does need enthusiasm and support from our Council. Many towns and areas across England are living their heritage. For example, check out the work of Art Gene (http://www.art-gene.co.uk/) in Barrow-in-Furness, the area placed first in the index for Landscape & Natural Heritage, in spite of the high profile Lake District being just up the road.

You can freely access and explore the Heritage Index at https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/public-services-and-communities-folder/heritage-and-place

Please raise the profile of your local heritage concerns either here or elsewhere on social media