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A TORY councillor has suggested building a new lorry park in Basildon, despite being bombarded with violent threats by lorry drivers.
Laindon councillor Jeff Henry said lorry drivers needed a safe place to park up overnight and suggested opening a council-run site could help generate income.
He said it might also help the council cut illegal pollution levels around industrial estates along the A127.
Cllr Henry has asked councillors to consider the idea at a public meeting next Thursday, September 26.
The Conservative councillor said he and independent councillor Kerry Smith had been contacted separately last year with complaints from businesses on industrial estates around the borough.
They told Cllr Henry that lorry drivers parked up on the estates overnight to sleep – but there were no bins and no toilets in the area, meaning they left rubbish behind and sometimes ‘defecated in the street’.
Cllr Henry said he helped the businesses apply to the South Essex Parking Partnership last year for some controls on the area, but nothing had come of it.
He said it was posting about the dilemma on Facebook which led to the idea of the lorry park. His post notched up almost 70,000 hits and attracted a barrage of abuse.
Cllr Henry told the YA: “It seems the post was shared with some sort of lorry drivers’ group. I had people messaging me from Selby, from Scotland, from Scunthorpe, from the south coast, telling me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, saying about going on strike and boycotting Basildon.
“Then it started getting particularly nasty. People were talking about wanting to find out where I lived and smash my house up, run me off the road and smash my car up, smash my face up. One guy said I should be abducted and gang-raped and left for dead in a ditch, like all Tory scum.
“Out of all that, I had maybe 10 or 15 emails from quite reasonable people, who said they wanted to talk to me and tell me what the real problem was.
“They told me that truck stops are few and far between. The ones that do exist fill up really, really quickly, and a lot of them are not nice. The facilities are not great, the showers are awful, the toilets are pretty awful. People slash the curtains on the lorries and steal. Tyres are slashed. Even fuel is stolen. So it’s a pretty bum job.
“I asked them what they would do if they were in charge, and they said the answer was just to provide more decent, properly maintained lorry parks where people feel safe to go.”
So Cllr Henry will ask councillors to back a motion next week asking council officers to investigate the business case for creating a council-run lorry park somewhere near the A13.
He said: “It’s not going to help us to be attracting more lorries to the A127.”
The council has twice received ministerial direction from Government in recent years that it must cut illegal pollution levels along the A127, or face having to impose a congestion charge.
Cllr Henry told the YA: “When you’re trying to change air quality issues in a local area, there’s no big thing that’s going to fix it. It’s a cumulative effect of lots of little things. We can take away 30 or 40 lorries a day that have no real reason to be there other than to park up for the night.”