Arrogant Council determined to waste £5m

March 15th, 2010

CAMPAIGN group Priory Park Preservation Society has voiced its opposition to a key part of the £5million Cuckoo Corner road scheme.

The society says a survey showed just four vehicles turned left from Priory Crescent into Victoria Avenue in a rush-hour. Campaigners say the results prove a dedicated left-hand lane from Priory Crescent into Victoria Avenue, is not needed.

However, Tory councillor Anna Waite, said: “If we don’t spend the funding for this project by March 2011 then they just take it back, so the town loses a £5million investment for infrastructure because a group of treehuggers seem to think it knows better than all of the experts on these types of junctions. Businesses are not going to come to Southend unless they know they can get through the junctions.”

The above piece is a quote from the Southend Echo, published on their website on 13/3/10. We welcome Anna Waite’s comments because they throw a good deal of light on this Council’s policy.

There is nothing in Mrs. Waite’s statement demonstrating the need to widen Priory Crescent, merely that they have a £5m sum from the Government and they must spend it within the next 12 months or they will lose it. What a dismal indictment of Council policy: they are looking for something to do with £5m, and anything will do, whether or not the Town will benefit. This is the ultimate “dog in the manger” attitude.

Who are these experts of whom Mrs. Waite speaks? The Council haven’t asked any since 2004, and those who presented evidence to the Public Inquiry were given a severe mauling by the very treehuggers Mrs. Waite so scornfully decries – but she wouldn’t know about that because she never set foot in the place when the inquiry was going on. It doesn’t take a lot of expertise to count to 4, and that was all we had to do when making a tally of those vehicles turning left during the rush hour in question. Our expertise even goes so far to identify them as 3 cars and 1 hgv.

Mrs. Waite is right on one point: businesses will not be attracted to the town if they think that the infrastructure doesn’t work, but since there have been no expert surveys and no public consultation over this proposed scheme, how does she know whether it will benefit the town or not?

One thing is certain, however. Nothing will frighten away prospective businesses from Southend quite so effectively as an incompetent Council whose sheer arrogance and dishonesty keeps it in a state of perpetual warfare with its own citizens.

Council’s plan will make Cuckoo Corner worse

March 10th, 2010

Southend Borough Council’s plan to install traffic lights at Cuckoo Corner roundabout, entailing the widening of 200 metres of Priory Crescent, will actually cause greater problems than currently exist.

The Priory Park Preservation Society are in the process of carrying out a peak-hour survey of the junction and their initial findings are that it functions well.

The first stage of the process is to compare traffic flows in 2010 to those in 2003, when comprehensive surveys were carried out by W.S. Atkins and the results were published at the Public Inquiry of 2004. The 2003 data showed that during the weekday morning rush hour (0800-0900), 24 vehicles turned left from Priory Crescent to Victoria Avenue, and in the hour from 1700 – 1800 there were 17 left turns.

“This is work that the Council themselves should be doing,” said Peter Walker, Chairman of the PPPS. “This current scheme is very different from the old F5 dual carriageway plan but the Council, who have not consulted the public and have published no data which is less than 7 years old, are pushing ahead with no idea what is needed nor any idea of the consequences.”

“Our data shows a marked difference. Clearly we don’t have the resources of a big company like Atkins so this survey will take some time to complete, but we do know that the number of vehicles turning left out of Priory Crescent has now dropped into single figures. During the weekday rush hour, only 4 vehicles turned left in the morning and 3 in the evening. We believe this reduction is down to the fact that the RBS site and Lookers car showrooms are no more. However, there is no firm plan yet to put any more industry on that site and it calls into question the Council’s entire thinking on widening Priory Crescent.”

“Why spend all that money for an extra lane when only one vehicle every 15 minutes will use it?”

Eye on the local media

March 10th, 2010

As the Culture, Media and Sport committee of MPs reported on the News of the World phone tapping scandal and the press became the focus of news headlines people were given a rare opportunity to consider the impact the press has upon political life and, indeed, the attitudes and opinions of us all. One of the most telling remarks made on the day of the Committee’s report came from the publicist Max Clifford. Commenting upon Parliament’s refusal to properly regulate the media he said: “Parliament doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Fleet Street”. He argued that MP’s were too scared to take on the press for fear of losing editorial support, which is, of course, crucial to electoral success.
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Pall Mall traffic calming in the news

February 26th, 2010

After its disastrous attack in November 08 upon road safety measures in residential areas The Leigh Times has again ventured into this territory. The paper was roundly condemned for its “Voice of Leigh” item just over a year ago for callously attacking speed cameras and traffic calming, despite the fact that these have saved the lives of many thousands of people, including over 500 children. Now they bemoan the introduction of speed bumps in Pall Mall, seeking to have them engineered to make them lower. Why? This was a notorious rat-run, immediately next to Leigh North Street Junior School. The only thing shocking about the speed bumps in Pall Mall is that the residents and school staff had to wait so long to see them installed.
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New roads are not the answer

February 23rd, 2010

James Duddridge, MP for Southend East and Rochford, has told the Echo that the protesters currently encamped at Cuckoo Corner are “out of touch with the Town”. I’m afraid that Mr. Duddridge, not for the first time since he left Banking to become an MP, is not telling the truth. The majority of the Town have always been implacably opposed to the widening of Priory Crescent.
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My Favourite Council

February 22nd, 2010

Many years ago, when Private Eye was in its infancy, a young writer named Paul Foot was a regular contributor. Quite often, his articles were about Southend Council and after a while he came to refer to them as “my favourite Council” because the scurrilous behaviour of Southend Council provided Foot with so much juicy material upon which to base his articles.
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