Southend Times
March 5, 2002


Right decision on Priory Crescent

IN any consultation exercise it is always difficult to gauge whether or not you are getting a genuine feedback on what residents really want.

Apathy being as it is today - particularly as far as politics and local affairs are concerned - tends to distort the outcome.

But in the case of such an emotive issue as relieving congestion in Priory Crescent it becomes almost impossible to get a true picture.

Even if the council decided to hold a referendum - giving every person in the town an opportunity to vote - you would still not be able to get a true picture because of the small number of people who would be bothered to vote, and it would also depend on what question you asked.

Usually it is the minority most against the issue who turn out.

Petitions cannot always be relied on either to give a true picture - unless you could verify every signature, and that would be impossible with so many involvedas in this issue.

It is easy, therefore, to recognise the difficulty Southend Council has had in gauging the mood of the town from the consultation exercise carried out in its CIVIC NEWS.

Basically, though, a response rate of 95 from a distribution of 70,000 is abysmal and if the council was to make a decision on that - taking into account that only 63 of the 95 were against the proposal to ease traffic congestion in Priory Crescent by dualling the road and that four of these were from out of town - it would be wrong.

Southend has to bite the bullet on this issue.

With massive housing schemes being planned east of the town around Shoebury the situation in Priory Crescent is only going to get worse.

This newspaper would not have been in favour of any encroachment of Priory Park.

It would be difficult to find any councillor from any party who would be in favour either.

Southend Council has come up with a scheme that avoids this - and the only point of argument is over the mature trees being displaced in Priory Crescent.

Many of these, though, it is accepted are coming to the end of their natural lives.

There is no problem nowadays in planting semi mature trees which should answer this point.

It would have been easy for this council to put off a decision on this until after the elections in May.

It is refreshing therefore to see an administration not shying away in this way.

Had they done so they might have saved a few votes, but could have lost the best chance yet to solve what has been for years the town's biggest transport problem.

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