Residents, tourists and business owners have reacted angrily to the news that Southend’s iconic Kursaal building, along with its world-famous dome, has been approved by local planning officials for use as an OFFICIAL RELIGIOUS PLACE OF WORSHIP. According to the local government officials who rubber-stamped the decision earlier today, this adjustment to the Kursaal’s ‘Authorised Statutory of Usages Notice’ will allow prayer sessions and religious study seminars to take place between 6am and 2am from Monday to Sunday – however the exact nature of the religious application is currently a closely-guarded secret while negotiations are taking place, and therefore it is unclear exactly who will be using the building on a regular basis. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 91 complaints have been made over the proposed plans, with the most common raised issue being ‘excessive levels of early morning noise.’
Marcus Liberaccio is chairman of the Southend Religious and Cultural Diversification Collaborative Working Group, and he spoke to Southend News Network today. He said: ‘Although we are not currently in a position to reveal exactly who will be using the Kursaal and it’s trademark dome for regular prayer sessions, we can confirm that the new arrangements will bring a huge number of new visitors to the area almost every single day. Some residents have expressed concerns about parking issues, but we have to approach these considerations with a great deal of sensitivity towards all concerned. Southend Seafront is one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of the United Kingdom, and what is there to stop couples, families and everyone in between from finishing their prayer sessions and then wandering off for an ice cream or a delicious tray of fish and chips? Southenders are always keen to promote the message of ‘community,’ and this is just another string to the town’s bow of diversity. Although they may stay away from the amusement arcades for cultural and religious reasons, there will still be plenty for the local tourism trade to celebrate!’
After some further investigation this afternoon, Southend News Network has been approached by some unconfirmed sources who have hinted that the application was made by representatives of the Essex Evolutionary Movement – a relatively unknown group of people who believe that the entire universe originated from ancient lands that formed roughly between the modern-day areas of Southend, Manningtree and Saffron Walden. Leaders of their 24,000 followers in the UK have indicated on a number of occasions that they were keen to establish a place of worship within the county, and it is also well known that they are keen to expand their congregation with people who feel ‘disconnected’ from other more mainstream faiths. They believe that there is no God who should be worshipped, and instead that the land of Essex is sacred and should be respected and worshipped as such.