Yellow Advertiser
March 6, 2002

Campaigners take to the trees as park's fate is decided


Peaceful protest
FINAL ACT: Campaigners take to the trees
By Rob Allanson
PARKLIFE campaigners took to the trees in a final act of protest before the decision about Priory Park's fate is made on Tuesday.

Members of the local residents' group occupied the first tree on the proposed A1159 dual carriageway route, prior to the imminent Southend Borough Council decision this week.

The Town Hall claims that if members of the Cabinet give the go-ahead to its preferred scheme, congestion problems at Priory Crescent and Cuckoo Corner could be solved without losing any of Priory Park.

Councillors are due to discuss their report at a meeting on Tuesday, March 5, which details reaction to the public consultation. Cabinet members will be advised to consider the responses and signed petitions sent to the council by campaign groups and the Yellow Advertiser.

The report also asks councillors to reaffirm their commitment to the preferred option, which avoids taking land from the park for the road, as well as pledging to replace axed trees on a two-to-one basis with semi-mature trees. The option also includes improving the park's landscape and pedestrian gates.

The members will be asked to agree to officers starting the next stage of the proposals by beginning detailed designs and continuing their consultation with affected land owners and utility companies.

Details of the proposal were sent out to more than 70,000 homes in the Winter edition of the Civic News.

A total of 83 people wrote in with their comments, 67 against the scheme nad 16 in support of it.

Cabinet members will also have knowledge of the 26,000 signatures and Yellow Advertiser tokens sent in opposing the project brought to their attention.

Councillor Roger Wever, executive councillor for planning, transport and engineering, said the authority had listened and taken onboard all of the concerns raised by residents as part of the consultation.

He added: "It is upsetting this preferred option would result in the loss of some trees.

"However, the benefits of the scheme to the borough has to be seen to outweigh the disadvantages. I promise that this council will repland two semi-mature trees within the park for every tree that is removed."

Mr Weaver explained the council had to do something to improve the flow of traffic or the impact on the borough and its economy would be something future generations would have to suffer with.

He added: "I am pleased to have received letters of support for this scheme from the Chamber of Commerce and a prominent local businessman who has invested millions into making this town a place for the future."

However, campaigners will call on the council at its meeting on Tuesday to abandon its proposals.

Chris Ford, Priory Park Preservation Society chairman*, added: "They have asked for the public's opinion and have now got it, but the technical services department is still recommending the cabinet accepts this proposal.

"This is disgusting and shows the council's consultation is nothing more than a sham."

* Chris Ford is not the chairman of the PPPS

Opinion - Only one answer to Priory Park problem

THE argument over Priory Park, there's only one answer, if the council agree to take part of Priory Park the answer is at the next council election, let the Preservation Society put up members for the council,, and if they get enough numbers on the council, they can then reverse the decision of this council on Priory Park.

I am sure they would get enough members on the council to pass a vote to turn Priory Park back to whta it is now.

F Campan,
Briarwood Drive, Leigh

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