Evening Echo
February 8, 2006

Group fighting road plan dig in and spend Christmas on Camp Bling

Protesters build 2nd tree house

ANTI-ROAD protesters have completed their second tree house and spent their first Christmas on a site created to fight plans to widen the road around Priory Park in Southend.

The tree houses mark yet another solid structure and are part of the group's plans to give the site, named Camp Bling, in honour of the Saxon king found buried with large amounts of gold there, a more permanent feel.

The tree house demonstrates the determination of the "Camp blingers" to continue to expand the camp after the first protesters Ant Baily and Shaun Qureshi stormed the site in September.

The protesters stayed on the site over Christmas and will do the same over the New Year and on into 2006.

Shaun said: "The Priory Park scheme is massively over budget, significantly behind schedule, and very much unloved by the people of our town.

"Southend Council and the Department for Transport must surely now recognise the level of public opposition, and should act accordingly by cancelling all funding for the road."

Further tree houses are planned to replace tents around the camp and the protesters have not ruled out building tunnels to make it harder to evict them when the council decides to try and move them on.

More than 110 trees are to be destroyed for the Priory Crescent widening scheme.

The council will create a two-for-one scheme replacing semi-mature trees, but the total tree population will not recover the natural barrier between park-land and king's tomb and the extra traffic.

The new trees will also be replanted as far away as Royal Artillery Way and Progress Road, up to 2.6 miles away at the town boundary with Rochford.

Despite compulsory purchase and side roads orders being granted by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, funding has still not been given to start work on the road. Latest figures show costs for the 870-metre stretch of new carriageway are more than £11million.

Murray Foster, Southend Council cabinet member for transport and planning said he felt the protesters had ignored the democratic process.

He said:" I sam disappointed they still want to press forward as we have had an inquiry and it came down on our side."

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