by Michelle Archard and Geoff Percival
SOUTHEND Council could be faced with a £3.5 million bill if the controversial Priory Crescent road-widening scheme goes ahead, campaigners claim.
Protesters at Camp Bling, set up to oppose the road scheme, believe the council will have to pay £1.5million to evict them from their site in Priory Crescent.
The campaigners say the council will also need to make a £2million contribution from its own coffers towards the cost of the £11.5million scheme.
Parklife campaigner Patsy Link said: "The true cost to local taxpayers for building this road is being withheld. We have established that the total bill could be as much as £3.5million, and demand the Conservative leader explains exactly how such a sum of money will be procured from council funds for this purpose."
Tory council leader Nigel Holdcroft would not comment on the costs saying nothing was yet decided and the council was still waiting to hear from the Department for Transport whether the scheme would be funded.
Miss Link added: "We demand that the Conservative leader explains exactly how such a sum of money will be procured from council funds for this purpose."
Under the latest scheme, the dual carriageway in Priory Crescent would only extend from Cuckoo Corner to the Lookers garage site, and will not affect the former burial ground of the Saxon king - where Camp Bling protesters have set up.
The area occupied by Camp Bling would become a memorial garden to the Saxon king.
Lib Dem group leader Graham Longley said: "I think there would not be any problem if the council made the right decision and dropped this road scheme, there would not be any problem with Camp Bling.
As this is what they have been campaigning for, then as I understand it, they would leave the site and assist in clearing it up as well.
"By insisting on going on with this road, which nobody wants, the council is now facing another unnecessary problem."
The Priory Crescent widening scheme has already been drastically cut back from the original plans, which involved a new bridge over the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria rail line.
Although these were approved by an inspector following a public inquiry, the money to carry out the work has not been forthcoming from the Government.