Essex Courier
January 30, 2002

Priory Park survey hailed a success

Despite appalling weather conditions, campaign groups were out last Saturday asking the public their views about the future of Southend's Priory Park. Controversial plans to widen Priory Crescent, the road running along side the park, continue to arouse public feeling.

Campaign groups believe the current round of public consultation will not truly reflect the level of opposition to the plan.

In an attempt to counter this, five local groups, including Karers, Parklife, Priory Park Preservation Society, Green Party and Friends of the Earth, decided to carry out a survey of their own.

In response to the proposal the group claim that 408 shoppers - around 97 per cent - agreed with the campaigners, with ten against.

Roger Weaver, executive councillor for planning, transportation and engineering, argued that the proposal put forward by the five groups was "a very bias one sided question".

He added: "Maybe if they had added, 'if you choose this option Southend will stand still and won't get any more investment in the town', they might have got a different response."

The latest element of a lengthy public consultation process has involved the opportunity for residents to write objections plans.

The cllr said: "I think if you ask anybody to agree to that [the campaigners proposal] then they are going to say, generally, 'I agree'.

"But if you actually put the full scenario to people, I think people may take a logical look at it rather than an impassioned look.

"The people elect us to make a decision for them. The people say 'right, we've put you in now get on and do the job'.

"If every time we want to make a decision on doing something in this town, we have to rely on the public to have a vote, we would achieve absolutely nothing," he added.

Shaun Qureshi, 'Park Life' campaigner, said: "The result today confirms that the proposal should not be allowed to go ahead."

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