Yellow Advertiser
Wednesday February 20, 2002

Park protesters hold 12-hour vigil to save trees

DETERMINED: Parklife campaigner Shaun Qureshi with the petition forms


By Rob Allanson

THE campaign to save hundred of trees surrounding Priory Park took to the streets this week as protesters held a 12-hour vigil on Saturday.

Campaigners gathered at the main gates to the park, on Victoria Avenue, at 8am, to demonstrate public opposition to unleashing workmen with chainsaws as part of a road-widening scheme at Cuckoo Corner and Priory Crescent.

Protesters claim this is the latest in a long line of ill-fated schemes dating back to 1974.

The Southend Council's bid to reduce congestion has provoked massive public backlash to the plans. The main objection to the Government-funded road scheme is the future of the 'People's Park'.

The park was donated by local benefactor Robert Arthur Jones to the residents of Southend in 1917. It contains the Cluniac priory, and campaginers claim it is one of the few green lungs of the town.

Parklife campaigner Shaun Qureshi said the plans requre the felling of more than 100 mature trees along the northern boundary.

He added: "We have recently proved no one wants this road. We have marched from London, demonstrated, surveyed and petitioned. At the weekend we once again showed the council they have a fight on their hands to get this road through.

"A recent survey showed 97.5 per cent of 420 peopl polled in favour of preserving Priory Park and its surroundings."

Two weeks ago the Yellow Advertiser revealed the official council public consultation is likely to exclude more than 10,000 formal petitions due to the qualifying dates and other criteria.

A council spokesman said officers would bring objections to councillors' attention and it would be up to them what 'weight' they attached to them.

A final decision on the fate of Priory Park could come as early as March.

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