Councillor furious after changes to parking near Southend Airport are pushed back by two years

A councillor has been left furious after his push to resolve parking problems on roads surrounding Southend Airport was delayed almost two years.

The problems with parking on roads such as Eastwoodbury Lane, Bristol Road and Avro Road have become so severe that a council report said it is “causing severe anti-social behaviour and high tensions between residents”.

To solve it, Labour councillor Daniel Cowan of the St Laurence ward said residents want a permit scheme on Wells Avenue expanded onto the additional roads so that only residents can park on them between the times of 9am and 5pm.

This would stop people parking on the roads when using the airport.

However, in a council meeting centred of traffic regulations, councillors voted against holding a public consultation on whether this is something residents want because they felt the Covid-19 pandemic will make it impossible to properly know the scale of the problem.

Conservative leader Cllr Tony Cox said: “We don’t necessarily know what the behaviours will be in six months to a year and giving it that pause for a couple of years is probably the right thing to do.

“At least that way we can ascertain as a council what is going to be the new normal in terms of traffic behaviour. I think it is sensible to wait.”

He was backed by Tory councillor Alex Bright who called a delay the “obvious course of action” so that the council can “see how things go post-Covid”.

Mr Cowan hit back at the councillors calling it “incredibly frustrating” to hear them keep talking about delays when the problem existed far before the pandemic.

He said: “People around here have been waiting a long time, they have been frustrated for a very long time and while there is all this talk about let’s see what the new normal is, under the current situation with Covid residents are still suffering parking pressures.

“When the airport has practically closed down to commercial flights there are still parking pressures in the area.

“When everyone was stuck at home and in lockdown, people were jumping in their car going out for first time in weeks, going to local supermarket and maybe they were gone three or four hours but by time got back that parking space had gone.

“It wasn’t a case of this car would move in a couple of hours but they would look out on day two, day three, day 10 and the same car would still be there. Then lo and behold someone comes along with a wheel along suitcase sticks it in the car and drives off.”

He added: “If we are waiting for two years then all we are telling residents is you have to suffer with the problems you have already got and then we are only going to do something about it if we think it’s gotten worse, which is irresponsible.

“Residents are telling us there is a huge problem.

“When councillors say it is the wrong time I slightly agree because the right time was six months ago when we were also talking about it at the end of February.”

Despite Mr Cowan’s efforts, his push for support from councillors was rejected.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter