Essex Courier
Special Edition - 2001/2002

The Saga of the Park

As the year draws to a close, the bitter wrangle between Southend's 'Save Priory Park' campaigners and the local council continues to rage on. A public consultation period, concerning the Southend Borough Council's latest proposals for road-duelling Priory Crescent, will has now been extended until 31 January 2002.

The plans involve the felling of around 60 mature trees along the outside perimeter of the park and campaigners say these proposals remain a serious threat to the Park, which was bequeathed 'in perpetuity' to the people of Southend by an R A Jones, 81 years ago.

Doug Copping, South East Essex Friends of the Earth spokesman, said: "It is imperative the people of Southend forcefully send an unambiguous message to their council that 'in perpetuity' means just what it says."

Now, unless the majority of Southend's population writes in to object to the proposals, the plan will go ahead.

Roger Weaver, Council Cabinet Member in charge of transport said: "We have looked at between ten and 12 different ideas for dual carriageways, one-way systems, flyovers and underpasses and we believe this is the best which can be achieved.

"We pledge that for every tree that has to be felled, two new mature trees will be put in their place and we believe this is the best possible scheme which can be achieved."

However, Cllr Weaver, also confirmed that the basis on which the Council will judge public support for the scheme is that, where no letter of objection is received, it will count that as a vote in support of the plan. Chris Ford, the PR and campaign coordinator for the Priory Park Preservation Society, explained: "The Civic News is it.

"They've sent out 72 thousand of that, every home in the borough has got one, if you use it to line the cat tray or light the fire you are voting yes to this proposal.

"That is the sole content of the council's consultative process." Roger Weaver described the consultation as, "a full public consultation process".

John Fuller, local representative for Friends of the Earth, said: "I don't have an awful lot of confidence in this consultation process."

The Leader of Southend Council, Charles Latham said: "Before any final decision is taken, we want people to give their views."

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