by ALEX ELLIS
CAMPAIGNERS WHO have set up camp in protest over plans for a dual carriageway in Soutehnd are bedding in for what could be Britain's coldest winter for years.
More than 30 people now occupy 'Camp Bling' - named such after the discovery of a Saxon King's grave on the site - which was set up by three campaigners with a tent in September.
The Priory Park site has now grown into a mini-village with tree houses, a visitors centre, buildings and an eco-toilet, constructed out of compost.
The protesters are angry over plans to widen the A127/A1159 at Priory Crescent which requires 113 trees to be felled and the use of 3,000 square metres of open space to accommodate new carriageways, footpaths, and associated highway utilities.
Shaun Qureshi told The Enquirer the campaigners would "see it through to the end" after protesting against the scheme since 2001.
"The road is going to have a huge impact on the environment and local people - and for very little benefit.
He added that the camp is open to all and appealed for public support as well as essential provisions such as, food, materials and coal. "You don't have to live here to support the campaign," he said.
The protesters say the public inquiry against the multi-million pound scheme to tackle the bottlenecdk at Priory Crescent was "unfair".
The consultation yielded 20,000 signatories against the plans and just 16 in favour of the development. Despite this, the go-ahead was given and work is expected to begin in January.
Mr Qureshi pointed out that if the building goes ahead, the Saxon burial site would be completely obliterated.
He said: "The burial site will be under a railway bridge if the council get their own way."
Southend resident and campaigner, Anthony Bailey, added: "The camp is growing by the day and we are not going to give up. When the time comes we have measures to combat the development. It will be peaceful but direct."
A spokesman from Southend Council said: "Following the public inquiry and the decision by the secretary of state to give the go-ahead to the Priory Crescent road improvement scheme, it is inevitable that people who continue to take a different view of the scheme will want to express their feelings, which they are free to do."
The spokesman added: "They have put up makeshift buildings, which obviously they have not been granted planning permission for. However, their actions have so far been peaceful and we will carry on keeping an eye on the situation."
For more details about the campaign call 07817 182394 or visit www.savepriorypark.org.