Choke point - traffic at Priory Crescent
By GEOFF PERCIVAL
A NEW Echo online poll reveals a majority of local people wants Southend Council to ditch its Priory Crescent improvement scheme.
In the poll, on the Echo's website - www.echo-news.co.uk - 238 people agreed the plan should be dropped, 93 supported it and 14 said they didn't know or didn't care.
But council leader Murray Foster is still defending the scheme, arguing it has to be looked at as part of the overall transport scheme for the town.
He said: "I realise there is an argument that if you improve Priory Crescent and the junction at Cuckoo Corner, then you will only make things worse at the Bell.
"In our second local transport plan, there is a provision for improvements to other junctions along the A127, when funding is available from the Government.
"There is always a funding problem with improvements and you cannot do everything at the same time because the money is not available.
Mr Foster added: "To say that you shouldn't do Priory Crescent because of the problems at the Bell is the same as saying you shouldn't have built the underpass at Rayleigh Weir because it would create a bottleneck at Progress Road."
Mr Foster said the ideal solution for the traffic problems to the east of the town would be the much-discussed outer bypass, but this was not likely to happen for many years.
He went on: "My other concern is that Priory Crescent is the only piece of single-lane road between the M25 and the east of Southend and if you had a large vehicle break down, there would be a real danger of gridlock.
"The council would be equally criticised if we did nothing to try and improve the traffic situation in the town.
"Southend also has the problems of development along its major roads.
"Short of wholesale and unacceptable property demolition, we cannot totally improve our roads to modern-day standards."
Mr Foster said the whole principle of the Priory Crescent improvement had been extensively examined at the public inquiry which had decided in favour of the scheme.
"The inquiry was an important part of the democratic process when all points of view were fully considered," he added.
"Despite the findings of this poll, I believe there are a lot of people out there who want to see this road improvement scheme go ahead."
The cost of a new dual-carriageway in an 870metre section of road next to Priory Park in Southend has shot up from £15million to £21million. Should Southend Council now abandon the scheme?