Sir, There is an old saying that newspapers never let a few facts get in the way of a good story and in your dealings with the Priory Park issue this is very appropriate. Let's examine these facts.
1. No-one has yet demonstrated that widening Priory Crescent will improve
traffic flow and councillors have refused to meet me to discuss this issue.
The congestion is caused by the Cuckoo Corner and Sutton Road roundabouts
and these can be altered without removing a single tree. When challenged on
this issue at the Priory Crescent Working Group meeting of 11/10/01, neither
Roger Weaver nor any of his consultants was able to answer key questions on
this, e.g. How much time will be saved on a journey after the road is built?
It is a pity that our local press were not present to report on this
2. The Council have pledged that they won't use any of the Park for a road widening scheme. What they have not done is defined the area covered by the Park. The title deeds do this and the area on which this proposed road would be built is all protected in the same way as the rest of the Park, for ever to be enjoyed as an open space by the people of Southend. You may recall that the Council once tried to sell one of the sports grounds so that a supermarket could be built. The negotiations had reached an advanced stage before they realised that R.A. Jones had protected his gift to the people of Southend so well that it couldn't be done. The same will apply to this road scheme.
3. The "two trees for one" proposal is fraught with difficulty. No-one has said where the trees would go, what the species would be, what is the cost and survival rate of shifting large trees about etc. I have made investigations into this and it will not be possible to provide specimens which will be comparable to those the Council plan to remove. Any councillor who gives the impression that this is possible is misleading the public.
4. Councillors have a duty to take note of the views of their constituents. More than 20,000 signatures exist on petitions against the road scheme yet the council still plans to go ahead with it.
5. You state that Councillors have suffered abuse. If that is so then I would never condone such behaviour. I have found some councillors to be ignorant of key issues; I have found some to be rude and aggressive; I believe they are guilty of an enormous waste of public money, I believe they have a hidden agenda and I believe that many are incompetent and hypocritical, but I would never dream of abusing any of them.