Essex Courier
December 12, 2001

Plan's 'hidden agenda' fears

Protesters demanding action against Southend Borough Council's controversial Priory Park area development took to the streets last weekend to highlight their campaign.

After a revised plan was issued by councillors, the campaigners were concerned the proposals still posed a threat to the park.

Local residents are also opposed to the plan because they believe that it will increase the volume of traffic and pollution.

Peter Walker, Leader of the Priory Park Preservation Society, and demonstration organiser, was critical of the council and suspicious of their true motives concerning the scheme.

"This scheme, if it goes ahead, will alter the character of this town out of all proportion. I believe that it is not being done for the purposes of reliving traffic.

"I think they want to develop an awful lot of land on the east side of the town and they know full well that the infrastructure doesn't exist to support the new traffic that will be created.

"There are people behind the council, behind the scenes who are determined to make it go ahead so that money can be made out of it. It's certainly not being done for the people of this borough."

Councillor Roger Weaver, Executive Councillor for planning transportation and engineering, admitted that the Priory Crescent road scheme is part of the borough-wide regeneration process, which will eventually involve development of the eastern side of the town.

However, he ruled out the sinister implication of a 'hidden agenda'. "The government specify very clearly that the council has a duty to provide x-amount of housing."

The plans are now the subject of public consultation; via the council's own news publication, the Civic News.

The Civic News features information about the proposals and requests that anyone wishing to object should send a written response to the council. By default, anyone who does not register a written objection to the proposals will be counted as a vote in favour of the council's plans. John Fuller, local spokesman for Friends of the Earth, said: "I don't have an awful lot of confidence in this consultation process We only have until the fourth of January to get in our objections."

Park Life, one of the campaign groups, has set up a meeting with Sir Teddy Taylor MP, in an effort to get him involved in their struggle.

Back to News Page
Back to Home Page