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A bid to review the road scheme at the heart of the £575million Queensway project in Southend which will create a “traffic nightmare” has been narrowly rejected.
Following more than four hours of debate on who was to blame for signing off on plans to fill in the underpass, councillors voted eight to nine against a review.
At a special meeting of the council’s place scrutiny committee on Tuesday, a representative of Swan Housing said redesigning the plan would cost £40million.
The new scheme, which includes more than 1,700 homes, will remove the underpass but councillors say they were unaware they had given the go ahead to the scheme in 2019.
A decision to proceed with the plan was made in 2020 under the current administration.
Council leader Ian Gilbert said: “ I must admit I didn’t concentrate on that because I was busy concentrating on the housing elements of the scheme I believe other members of my group were looking more closely at the highways and implications.”
Kevin Buck, Conservative councillor for Prittlewell ward, issued a stark warning if the scheme were to go ahead in its present form.
He said: “In the 1970s when there were only 10 million registered vehicles on the UK roads.
“Porters Grange roundabout was so congested that this council at that time felt it necessary to justify and spend large amounts of money to put the current bypass in.
“We should not forget that’s what the underpasses is, it’s a bypass for Porters Grange roundabout.
“We are being told that to revert back to the same 1970s design whilst reducing it from eight lanes to four will not have a material impact on Southend’s traffic flows.
“I simply do not accept this. This will become a traffic nightmare for those living there.”
A recent audit of the scheme’s procurement highlighted errors and missing information.
Cllr Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group said: “When you have a half £1 billion regeneration scheme, the biggest scheme that you’re about to embark on and we have a report that says poor documentation, things going missing, it is concerning.
“We should not just say let’s not worry about it, let’s just carry on. You can’t this is about good governance.
“It is public money. It’s about credibility. You can’t ignore those facts.”
The scheme will now be discussed by full council.