Save Priory Park

Archive for May, 2008

Peak Oil, Climate And Public Against Priory Crescent

Posted by keith on 29th May 2008

Peak Oil, climate and public against Priory Crescent.
Parklife has raised the urgent issues of both Peak Oil and the escalating climate crisis with Department for Transport officials, over plans to go ahead with the controversial Priory Crescent road widening scheme – after significant and related losses for the Conservative group on 1st May.
Campaigners believe that costs for the revised £11.5m plan are set to rocket, due to the soaring price of oil which is likely to increase further as demand increases and proven oil reserves begin to decline. Meanwhile climate experts such as James Hansen at NASA’s Goddard Space Institute are calling for CO2 emissions to be scaled back drastically in order to save the planet. (1)
Parklife Campaigner Helene Robinson said, ‘Southend Borough Council are unable to contain costs for the controversial Priory road scheme. The original figure agreed with Government was £3.5m, but we now know that over £2m has already been spent with work not yet even begun. Costs are already escalating for the revised plan, and considering that the price of oil has doubled within a year, it looks extremely likely that the estimated £11.5m latest figure is set to rocket.’ (2)
In response to the recent call in local press from Southend Borough Council leader Nigel Holdcroft for a funding decision from the Department for Transport, Robinson added, ‘Despite repeated appeals and attempted justifications from the Conservative group, the local public again voted against the Priory road scheme at the elections on 1st May. Three key areas supposedly set to benefit from it voted the Tories out, and the party came within just 118 votes of losing overall control – this is set against the national trend on the day of major gains for the Conservatives.’ (3)
Robinson concluded, ‘Considering public opposition, and the growing threats from both Peak Oil and the urgent climate crisis that we now all face, it is clear that we have reached the end of this road, and that it is time to begin to look elsewhere for sustainable alternatives for the benefit of both our town and the planet as a whole.’

  NOTES:1) Oil price on New York Mercantile Exchange over past 12 months: (see green line in first two graphs)
For latest news on the climate crisis see: <> <> (original paper).
2) For Priory Crescent expenditure to date see: <> (table 2.3 – LTP Capital expenditure breakdown).
For forthcoming expenditure see DfT guidance at: <> (bullet point four).
3) The wards were: Prittlewell, Southchurch and Thorpe – gained by Lib Dem (Prittlewell) and Independents respectively. Conservatives started the day with a seven-seat majority and held on to control by 118 votes with a six-vote margin to gain Kursaal, and 112 votes to hold St Laurence.

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Priory Crescent Costs Being Withheld – Campaigners Say

Posted by keith on 27th May 2008

Priory Crescent costs being withheld – campaigners say.
Local residents campaign group Parklife still await a response from Southend Borough Council (SBC) in relation to recently asked questions regarding provision of funding for the controversial Priory Crescent road widening scheme (1).
The group claim that up to £3.5m of local taxpayers money will be required towards the project. This figure includes the possible 25%/£2m towards construction of the road, but not the additional £1.875m that it is now known has been spent to date by SBC on planning and development alone (2).
Campaigner Shaun Qureshi said, ‘It was recently reported in local press that Tory Council leader Nigel Holdcroft would not comment on the cost of the road, saying that nothing has yet been decided. Considering that SBC made their case to regional Government late last year, the cost breakdown should be fully understood, especially in light of the potential impact on local taxpayers.’ (3)
Qureshi continued, ‘It would now appear that we have a situation where the leader of the Council will not inform the public of the outstanding costs, whilst Executive Councillor for Transportation Anna Waite is unaware of the huge sum that has already been wasted on her flagship project. People deserve much better than this, and from our understanding many are incensed and want the road widening scrapped once and for all.’
Three Freedom of Information requests regarding costs have been submitted to SBC by both Parklife and the Priory Park Preservation Society (PPPS) to date, and as of yet both campaign groups still await a response from the local authority (4).

NOTES:(1) Freedom of Information request submitted to SBC on Wednesday 2nd April / Southend Evening Echo Wednesday 9th April.(2) PPPS press release see Southend Evening Echo Thursday 17th April or

(3) Presentation made by SBC to Regional Transport Forum of East of England Regional Assembly on 30th November 2007.

(4) Outstanding Freedom of Information requests made to SBC:
  Parklife (via Department for Transport) 18/10/07
  Priory Park Preservation Society 12/03/08
  Parklife 02/04/08

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Things Are Changing

Posted by keith on 16th May 2008

Things will be changing soon — keep your eyes open for the launch.

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Cost of Road Soars For Local Council

Posted by keith on 1st May 2008

Parklife demands Council leader answers ‘£3.5m Priory Crescent question,’ as local costs soar.

Local residents campaign group Parklife is today calling for Council leader Nigel Holdcroft to answer key questions relating to the provision of funding by the local authority for the controversial Priory Crescent road widening.

The group obtained copies of sensitive Southend Borough Council (SBC) documents via a Freedom of Information request made to the Department for Transport (DfT) last year, showing that an initial assessment has been undertaken by the Council to establish the cost of evicting Camp Bling.

Figures for the eviction were not provided by the Government office, and as of yet a supplementary request for this information made via the DfT has been ignored by the Council (1). It has been estimated by campaigners that £1.5m may be required for this purpose alone (2).

In addition to the unresolved matter of security, the revised £11.5m plan announced by both Holdcroft and Executive Councillor Anna Waite in June 2007, must now also be part funded by the local authority, with a contribution of up to 25% to be made towards construction costs, should Government funding be forthcoming (3).

Parklife campaigner Patsy Link said, ‘The true cost to local taxpayers for building this road is being withheld. We have established that the total bill could be as much as £3.5m, and demand that the Conservative leader explains exactly how such a sum of money will be procured from Council funds for this purpose.’ (4)

The group will submit a further Freedom of Information request to the authority today in order to obtain the figures involved.

(1) Original Freedom of Information request made to both the DfT (via GO-East) and SBC. Supplementary request made to DfT on 18/10/07 as the Government department provided copies of sensitive Council documents not supplied by SBC.

(2) See Dalkeith Country Park eviction for comparison (estimated cost of £100,000 per day). Campaigners estimate cost for evicting Camp Bling could reach £1.5m.
Time estimate:
Cost estimate:

(3) DfT currently await revised business case from SBC before making a decision.
Scheme could be categorised as ‘new’ where a 10% contribution would be required from the local authority, or ‘transitional’ where a 25% contribution would be necessary for any cost increase over the originally agreed figure.
DfT Major Projects and Economics department advised Parklife by telephone on Friday 28th March, that the scheme could be categorised as transitional.
See ‘Guidance for Local Authorities’ section 1.6 Transitional Arrangements (bullet point 4):

(4) Total estimated cost of £3.5m to local authority based upon £1.5m for eviction plus 25%/£2m contribution for cost increases to scheme since December 2000 (£25% of the £8m subsequent cost increase since then would equate to £2m).

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