Southend on Sea Borough Council (SBC) is a dynamic and forward thinking Unitary Local Authority in South Essex, located in the Thames Gateway Growth Area, on the north side of the Thames Estuary, 40 miles east from Central London.
SBC recognises the key role it needs to play in order to build climate resilience across its urban environment. In 2015 it worked with the Environment Agency on a project that helped shape national action on climate change (Targeted Adaptation Support for Councils) and enabled SBC to secure 9 months worth of one-to-one support from some of the leading figures working on climate change adaptation in the UK. This included a specific work programme on heat stress in buildings. Climate change adaptation is embedded in key Council strategies (e.g. Low Carbon Energy & Sustainability Strategy 2015-2020) and have set tackling localised flooding and heat stress as corporate priorities. In addition, Southend has been named as one of the top 3 ‘greenest’ cities in the UK for three years in a row.
Cool Towns will help the SBC better understand how it can develop its capacity and future infrastructure to address heat stress, – because the impacts that heat stress will have on vulnerable people. In Southend 37,000 people will be aged over 65 by 2020, whilst currently 9,000 households are classified as being in the top 10% of ‘Most Deprived’ in the UK. It is vital that the Council builds its understanding of how to reduce the future risks of heat stress. Hotter, drier summers will increase opportunities to boost local tourism, people will be more likely to be outside and physically active and SBC will need to better understand how it can reduce the adverse impacts on health associated such as heat stroke. How can it adapt existing infrastructure and build greater climate resilience.