Letter to Director of Technical & Environmental Services from:
Albany Harvey

[Address withheld]
The Director of Technical &
Environmental Services,
Southend on Sea Borough Council

December 6th 2001

Dear Sir,

I have read the "Civic News" Winter Issue, and would appreciate your early reply to the following questions. You have set an end date of January 4th for your receipt of comments on the Priory Crescent proposals.

  1. What is the time limit set by the Council for you to reply to letters such as this, and what Standing Order or other instruction to you sets this limit
  2. The Civic News carrying the proposals on Priory Park has only just been issued. Between now and January 4th, there are the Christmas and New Year public holidays and shut downs which effectively leave about 20 days during which you and your Orricers are accessible to the public. For what precise and specific reasons have you set such a restricted timescale for public consultation.
  3. One of the proposals is for a traffic signal controlled junction at Cuckoo Corner. Whether Priory Crescent is dualled or not, what is to stop the signals being put in anyway, if the main objective at this location is to regulate traffic. You have had the houses kept empty at the corner for years in order to create a left filter on Victoria Avenue and take off some pressure, but have never used them. Why not? especially when you say in Civic News that a controlled crossing would provide improved pedestrian facilities as well.
  4. In dealing with traffic build up at the Bell and Sutton Road, you say linked traffic signals "would enable traffic movements over a wider area to be better controlled". Since congestion is already happening at those junctions, partly because Cuckoo Corner is completely uncontrolled, why not put that control and wider controls in anyway, before tinkering with Priory Crescent.
  5. I find your figures for vehicles over a 12 hour period in Priory Crescent to be quite meaningless, and possibly misleading. This is parto f the problem in dealing with some important issues. 21,400 and 19,900 sound terrible until I ask you the questions - which 12 hours? all of Priory Crescent east and west? eastbound or westbound carriageways What are we talking about?
  6. You say we need to improve Cuckoo Corner and Priory Crescent because this section of the highway network is inadequate, and that difficult access to Southend will worsen. Your basic solution is to widen the piece of Priory Crescent between the railway bridge and Cuckoo Corner plus some other measures. Compared with the size of the problem this solution (to meet a few hours peak traffic) does not seem to measure up. I submit that until you implement other traffic signal links and the corner of Cuckoo Corner improvements, you cannot form an objective view.
  7. UNLESS there is some truth in the contention by Mr Peter Walker in the Echo that you and Mr Weaver the Transport Executive Councillor, and the Council Itself, have a hidden agenda, and cannot be trusted. I base the last remark on my experience with the proposed sardine tin development in Lifstan Way. Here, the last piece of green land in Southchurch is being quietly surrendered to the College of Technology for a very dense housing scheme on a playing fields site. The college failed to justify the scheme on town planning grounds. The Ministry Inspector would not rule in the College's favour, so the planners and the Council, without a full council debate, slipped the scheme through and is allowing the College to have several million pounds worth of prime building land in exchange for a piece of undefined land in an undefined location. A blatent piece of manipulation to enable the College to proceed with a scheme for which it had not properly budgeted, and which has since come to grief when the financial backers pulled out. The management of the College is an independent developer, beholden only to the laws of supply and demand, and motivated entirely by finance, and responsible to no-one in the Borough. Why was this developer given preferential planning treatment?
  8. What, then, could a hidden agenda involve? I suggest it could mean the opening up to developers of every square inch of green land left in Southend. Mr Walker's reference to developing Thorpe Hall Golf Course may not be very wide of the mark, and it is no good Mr Weaver trying to shelter behind the worn our phrase "we are not aware of ----." It is his job, and that of the Council to be aware of every move made by vampire developers whose diet is not red but anything green, and to stop any unwelcome trends before they get too far. One has only to look at the Tesco development to see the quiet way preparations are made. Here are green areas next to a store, but with fingers of kerbstones and short pieces of tarmac pointing into the empty spaces. Somebody must have a plan somewhere which shows what is intended here. Where is or was, this plan published in the Civic News for all the taxpayers to see, and which sets out the current land use approvals (significant uses - not the single plots) in this area bordering on Rochford.
  9. The only areas with significant green space are in the East of the Borough. Could this hold a hidden agenda. A large area around Fossetts Farm was to be a stadium etc. which gained the enthusiastic support of none less than the Town Clerk, but succumbed (like Lifstan Way Playing Fields) to quite naked financial piracy. Now, no-one including the Southend United FC seems to want it, or has the wherewithall to save it. What socially valuable activity will fill the vacuum? Why did the Borough Council and the Town Clerk not know until it was too late, that a massive planning development could be easily pulled away from under their feet? Again, has the "master plan" for land use in the east of the Borough been printed for the ordinary citizen to read in "Civic News", ordo we hve to rely on the Echo to do its best to deliver it piecemeal as you release details of implementation after the event.
  10. Until the questions about land use are known and understood, people cannot be expected to make useful comment on a highway scheme affected by so many influences concerned iwth land use for industry and housing, and whether in fact we need any more new housing, and whether we have already got enough unused industrial and commercial space. Where is the public analysis in non technical, non jargon language of these matters? It is sometimes forgotten that whereas I am 80 years old and have a relatively short life span, we are legislating for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They have a long life time to live with the mistakes made today (including the rape of Southchurch if you continue to allow it).
  11. In summary, the more I travel around the Borough, the more I feel that the best way forward is to declare a moratorium on any new development in the area until a Town Plan is produced for public consultation setting out the answers (and others) to the questions posed above. Surely the bad experiences of the College, Lifstan Way and the Stadium are enough to tell us that it is about time we took decision making on our future lives out of the hands of unreliable speculators, and found alternatives, and a better way of selecting the people we go to bed with.

Yours sincerely,

Albany Harvey

Copy: The Leader
  The Town Clerk
  Mr Peter Walker

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