Senior Southend councillor accused of ‘justifying the unjustifiable’ by putting safety of his residents ahead of others

A Southend councillor has been accused of using serious incidents of anti-social behaviour to justify road safety measures in his own ward while leaving those living in other parts of the town at risk.

Independent councillor Ron Woodley began overseeing transport in Southend more than a year ago and quickly put a stop to all road changes that were requested by councillors on behalf of residents due to a two-year backlog of work.

He said the only road changes that would be approved would be those related to safety.

Thorpe Bay Gardens – a road which sits within the ward he represents – has now had speed humps installed following months anti-social incidents and dangerous driving – most recently on June 23, when a car was driven at people following an incident involving a number of teenagers.

But the move has been met with fury from rival councillors who are accusing Mr Woodley of putting the residents he represents ahead of others in the borough.

Councillor Kevin Buck (Con), who represents Prittlewell ward, said: “Many are rightly outraged at the fact that, despite being told last year by Cllr Woodley there was a two year waiting list and no new schemes would be introduced or considered, he has escalated a new scheme right to the top of the agenda for his ward.

“This is despite it not satisfying any of the requirements required by either the Department for Transport, Essex County Council Highways or even Southend’s own benchmarks for the introduction of control measures.

“Thorpe Bay Gardens had a speeding issue of less than 4 per cent and no known accidents or incidents.

“All it had was some anti-social behaviour issues, which are a police matter not a highways matter.”

He added: “He is using anti-social behaviour problems to justify the unjustifiable.”

Mr Buck also highlighted that Hadleigh Road, in Westcliff, had been approval for traffic calming measures before Thorpe Bay Gardens but residents are still waiting for the council to take action.

In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Conservative councillor Derek Jarvis wrote to council bosses calling it a “scandal” that the Thorpe Bay Gardens speed humps have been prioritised.

He wrote: “Not only was it a new request but it has been actioned and completed well within the two-year period using the police support as an excuse.

“What has happened to action the junction of Maya Close and Ness Road where there was a fatality and the works agreed before Councillor Woodley took over but have not even been started?”

Mr Woodley defended that installation of speed humps, claiming that they were urgent.

He said: “I said I wanted to put on hold members’ requests to get rid of a two-year backlog, but if one needs urgently dealing with for safety then we will do that and this on, Thorpe Bay Gardens is at the request of council officers and police due to anti-social speeding. People are driving at up to 60 mph up that road drag racing so it is considered an urgent item.”

He called claims he was putting his ward ahead of others “rubbish” and said it was all based on the recommendations from council officers.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter