Council sits on Southend relief road details

Plans to build a road through St Laurence Park in Southend have been revealed – but the council has refused to release the proposed route in case it causes too much public concern.

The new relief road would go from Fossetts Way, Southend, to Warners Bridge, and on to Nestuda Way near the A127 Tesco, to ease the flow of traffic between the east and west of the borough.

A Freedom of Information request by a member of the public has revealed those plans may involve cutting through the popular park and cottages in Eastwoodbury Lane.

While admitting that it has an outline map of the route, Southend Council refused to release the map saying it could have a “chilling” effect on discussion, and “cause concern to persons whose properties are currently within the area of the draft map”.

Using the Environmental Impact Regulations Act rather than the Freedom of Information Act to refuse the request for the map because it involves a road, the council added that it could also “engender public debate on something that may never happen”.

Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, admitted he had not seen the plans.

He said: “This relief road is something late Shoebury councillor Mike Assenheim suggested and I have been pushing for since his unfortunate death. An option was to go through St Laurence Park and behind cottages in Eastwoodbury Lane. In a way it is good news that we have some sort of proposal but I haven’t seen the detailed plans.

“This is something officers are working on and will present to me at the right time. The first step would be from Fossetts Farm to Warners Bridge.”

New homes and the new stadium at Fossetts Farm will put even further pressures on traffic flow, making a relief road even more necessary but any such proposal would be subject to public scrutiny and planning and procedures.

Mark Flewitt, former Conservative councillor for St Laurence ward, said: “Discovering that this relief road – planned to rip up a segment of St Laurence Ward – is sadly true, is truly shocking and that it’s conception and planning development has gone on behind closed doors, shows a new level of deception not experienced before.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter