£81m junction revamp decision to be held in private

Key Essex County Council decisions – including its £81m plan to revamp the Army and Navy junction in Chelmsford – will be not be voted on in public because of its position not to hold public meetings during the mourning period of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

To ensure transparency, the decisions – including agreeing the financing for Army and Navy junction in Chelmsford – will still be published online and subject to the usual call-in period and any comments by members will be made available where appropriate.

But the usual protocol of voting in cabinet has been surrendered because the meeting was due to have taken place during the 10 days of mourning due to end on September 19. Papers published ahead of the meeting that had been scheduled for September 13 said that Essex County Council could “descope” its plans to expand Park and Ride provision in Chelmsford if costs of developing a new Army and Navy junction rise.

Essex County Council , which has to submit its funding plans for the £81m Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package by the end of September to the Government in order to meet deadlines, has acknowledged it will be liable to fund all cost escalations.

This may mean that it may dumb down its plans for improvements to the city’s park and ride provision if cost rises cannot be funded – currently the plans include a 500-space expansion of the existing Chelmer Valley Park and Ride and a 350-space expansion of Sandon Park and Ride.

The cabinet had been due agree the plan at a meeting at county hall in which opposition members are allowed to scrutinise the plans before the vote. That element will now be in written form to the leader.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “In respect for the official mourning period of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Essex County Council will not be holding public meetings during the mourning period. This includes the cabinet meeting, scheduled for 10am on Tuesday, September 13.

“In order for Essex County Council to continue the decision-making process efficiently and effectively during this period, The leader has offered the leaders of the opposition groups an opportunity to comment in writing before taking the decisions on Tuesday morning.

“To ensure transparency the decisions are still published online and subject to the usual call-in period and any comments by Members will be made available where appropriate.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter