COUNCIL bosses have welcomed the challenge of a potential expansion to Lakeside.

Leading councillors at Basildon and Southend Council said the £168million transformation plans for the Thurrock shopping centre will encourage them to work to advance their own facilities.

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism at Southend Council, said: “Whenever there is a significant development elsewhere, it gives us the opportunity as the local authority to look at the things we’re doing and see how we can improve Southend even more.

“We do need more housing, that’s part of our 2050 road map, and we have various developments around the town which will see an investment of £1billion over the next ten years.

“We have the Airport Business Park scheme progressing and the huge development coming for Queensway.

“A lot of people will say that Southend gets no investment, but it’s simply not the case.

“I think we do have got enough attractions here for our residents but need to make sure it works well enough to keep people using it.”

Basildon mayor David Burton-Sampson said: “Lakeside, I think, are doing the right thing in addressing the challenges they face, and we are doing that too.

“We have plans for more housing and the luxury cinema complex, more restaurants to bring back vital town centre trade and more big and bold ideas to revitalise our town centre.

“The challenge should be viewed as a good thing as it will encourage us to get on with it and get moving to bring these improvements through as soon as we can.

“We’re not resting on our laurels, we want to bring these ideas through, but also must make sure they’re appropriate for our residents.”