A PROPOSAL which would have seen Southend Council take back control of the iconic Kursaal and make it a permanent home for the tomb of the ancient Prittlewell Prince is “not an option”.

A group of Conservative councillors tabled a motion which called on council leaders to buy the lease for the Kursaal following its sudden closure in April.

Southend Standard:

Discovery - the Prittlewell Prince dig

The Tory councillors said that once the lease has been purchased the site should be made the permanent home of Prittlewell Prince – a tomb containing dozens of rare artefacts unearthed near to Aldi in 2003.

When the idea was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon, a council officer said it would not be possible because the owner of the site has no intention of selling the lease.

He said: “The Kursaal is one of those iconic buildings in the town and as soon as someone mentions its name people start talking about it.


“It has come under a lot of public scrutiny, and there has been a lot of discussions. We are mindful of this and there have been discussions between us, the freeholder and leaseholder.

“We are maintaining dialogue with representatives and any opportunities for it to come back into public use are being considered where appropriate.

“In terms of this motion, we are aware the current freeholder does not plan to sell the leasehold at this time so the suggestion that we purchase it back and make it home for Prittlewell Prince is not an option at this time.”

Council leader Ian Gilbert told members: “It is an extremely difficult situation with the Kursaal at this time and we will do everything we can to bring it back into public use but it is worth reiterating that our view is the Kursaal should be kept as something true to its origins and that is as a leisure amenity.”

The council’s deputy leader Ron Woodley has previously stated that there is a 250-year lease that is “not easy” to buy out.

Artefacts found with the Prittlewell Prince were set to be the main attraction at a new £55million museum planned to be built on the seafront but the council abandoned the idea due to rising costs.