Evening Echo
August 28, 2001


System may avoid taking green land

AN URGENT rethink has been ordered over controversial plans to cut into Southend's Priory Park for a road widening scheme.

Roger Weaver, Tory executive councillor for transport, has told his officials to come up with a new plan to ease congestion in Priory Crescent as a matter of urgency.

He wants to tkae another look at a one-way system scheme using Priory Crescent and Victoria Avenue as an attempt to relieve traffic congestion at Cuckoo Corner.

He claimed his proposals would avoid taking any of Priory Park for a new road, a move which would be welcomed by green campaigners.

He said today: "Protesters have attacked me for wanting to desecrate Priory Park and bulldoze a road through it.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. I love this town as much as anyone and I would never do anything to destroy it."

Mr Weaver (Con, Eastwood Park) said his new proposal had come into his mind while he was on holiday abroad.

He added: "I was told I could not shut off from it, but I want everything possible to be considered before a final decision is made."

Mr Weaver also insisted his scheme would avoid the closure of Fairfax Drive at Victoria Avenue, which Southend's director of technical services David Watts said would be needed for a one-way system around the park.

However, Mr Weaver admitted that there would be a problem with more traffic in part of Priory Crescent, which would affect homes in the road.

He added: "We would be asking them to have a 600 per cent increase in traffic outside their houses. There is no easy solution.

"We are prepared to listen to every idea and will be having full consultation with the public when there are plans available and before it is considered by the local transport partnership."

Campaign officer for the Priory Park Preservation Society, Chris Ford, said today welcomed Mr Weaver's intervention.

He said: "Any proposal that did not cause damage to Priory Park would be welcomed with open arms. It is refreshing the council is looking at the simpler and less expensive option."

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