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: http://www.oilnergy.com/1combo.htm (see green line in first two graphs)
For latest news on the climate crisis see: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/07/climatechange.carbonemissions> <http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1135.pdf> (original paper).
2) For Priory Crescent expenditure to date see: <http://www.southend.gov.uk/content.asp?section=511&content=6622> (table 2.3 – LTP Capital expenditure breakdown).
For forthcoming expenditure see DfT guidance at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/ltp/major/majorschemeguide/majorguidemain?page=1#a1006 <http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/ltp/major/majorschemeguide/majorguidemain?page=1> (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.