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Councillors could agree to bring extra parking spaces to the seafront – two years after agreeing the initial plans.
The extra parking bays will be discussed by the council’s licensing committee this week and could see taxi ranks reinstated on Lucy Road and made into ‘dual use’, where they share parking bays with motorists who pay and display.
The taxi ranks were previously decomissioned in 2006 but council papers say they remained in use because road markings were not amended. They could now be officially reinstated and extended further, closer to the entrance of Seaway car park.
Taxis will have use of the spaces between 10pm and 9am, while visitors will be able to use them outside of those hours.
The council says it is a response to calls from seafront traders but Paul Thompson, who was chair of the Seafront Traders Association when the original requests were made, slammed the council for taking two years to move forward with the plans.
He said: “The taxi rank closed down in 2006, that’s 13 years not being used, we said put some parking spaces there and it went to the traffic and working party in November 2017 where it was unanimously agreed.
“Now officers have made up some rubbish to say that it needs to go to committee again – it is another delay. They got permission so why does it need to go to another committee?”
Conservative councillor Tony Cox also hit out at the council’s slow progress calling it a “new record” for taking action.
He said: “This relates to all administrations and up until when I became leader in May this had still not been implemented, it was ridiculous so I vowed to get parking in their immediately.
“The only reason for this to go to licensing was to agree to turn certain bays into taxi ranks to support the night time economy. I had these discussions in May and now it is September. We are coming up to the two year anniversary since the original decision was made.”
He added: “They have lost out on out on parking revenue for all that time – it is madness.”
Deputy council leader Ron Woodley admitted that it could have been done sooner but stressed that procedures need to be followed.
He said: “Some people expect councillors can make a decision and it can be done there and then but it can’t. We have to follow procedure.
“It went through one committee and got approval but unfortunately because it also relates to a taxi rank it also has to go through a licensing committee, which could have been done straight after the other as they do have regular meetings but that didn’t happen.
“Now we’ve come into administration, we’ve picked this up and said this is one we need to see out quickly and we are doing that.”
Southend Council did not respond to requests for information on how many spaces would be created if the licensing committee backs the plans on Thursday.