Tag Archives: Cuckoo corner road improvements

A Fitting and Lasting Tribute

I have kept my word and now I have requested that the Saxon burial site be registered as an ANCIENT MONUMENT.

This will provide the best protection possible for this important burial site. It should not be built upon or disturbed further but should now revert to a pleasant tranquil place that reflects the heritage of the burial site of a Saxon King or Prince and I have already asked the officers to do what is necessary to secure Ancient Monument status for the site, which will give it the same protection as Priory Park.

It’s now sometime since we sat down with Parklife to find a way forward to the Priory Crescent issues that suited everyone. Out of that meeting came an agreement, they would leave the Camp Bling site, we would improve Cuckoo Corner without going into the park and we would landscape the Saxon burial site. That work is now completing and I have kept to my word indeed I believe we have gone further to honour the spirit of the agreement and to respect both the site and the wishes of residents.

It must, by now, be clear to anyone who has travelled along Priory Crescent that the works at Cuckoo Corner have not gone into the park and that extensive planting has taken place with lines of Horse Chestnuts in the park and over the next few days the completion of the landscaping at Cuckoo will see more shrubs and trees in place. A new gate, designed to reflect the Priory, has been installed to improve pedestrian access to the park and access is further improved by safe road crossings.

I met again with Parklife a few months ago to discuss the plans for the Saxon burial site. I had promised a natural feel to landscaping that would respect the importance of the site. Parklife liked the proposed plans, indeed they said they were pleasantly surprised by them.  Work started on site a few weeks ago and is now taking shape, many new trees and bulbs are being planted, they are natural British species, the slope of the site is being softened at the northern end and all along the back against the railway fence natural hedging is being established to form a backdrop and a low wooden rail will go along the road side edge. The site itself will be tastefully identified and a simple memorial will be placed there. Yesterday I visited the site again with my colleague Cllr Jarvis who has responsibility for our parks and we were both very pleased with the progress and how it was coming along.

It will take a few years to fully establish but it will be fitting and lasting tribute to the Saxon Prince.

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Southend Shortlisted for 'Best Council'

Last year we were shortlisted for most improved council,  this year its best Council in the

 LGC awards and the list of awards, accolades and successes that

Southend Council and Partner’s  have achieved are truly amazing. They range from ‘Park Mark’ Awards for Safety in Car Parks for 20 of our car parks  to being awarded two green lights and ranked in the top three of English local authorities for our work on autism by the National Autistic Society’s Local Authority Progress Table and just about everything in between.

So let’s stop the negative stuff and start celebrating success, as it’s the successes that will move us forward and help us out of economic turn down, it’s the successes that will help us to keep going when the going gets tough and it’s the successes that will promote our town and help us achieve better jobs and better prospects for our children and grandchildren.

Cuckoo Corner

Today we see a very negative SKIPP press release about Cuckoo Corner, (only to be expected really in the circumstances)  last year they had 100 trees going, then 100 year old trees going, damage to the park, broken promises etc- none true and now a whole article about 28 sets of lights causing delay and all before the junction is even finished!

Truth is the A 127 pedestrian crossing had to be removed to build the 3rd lane, so the lights were turned on early to help pedestrians, but the detector loops are still to go in, the sequencing sorted and the lanes to be opened -oh and yes the signage and planting and much more still has to go in too….

There are three  ‘sets of lights’ on the arms of the 3 main roads entering/ exiting the roundabout and upto 4 sets controlling movements around the roundabout thats 7 sets not 28 sets. All sets of lights require more than one post so that all motorists and road users can see them.

To see how the junction will work in real time visit here the short simulation starts with the Bell junction before moving to a relatively basic model of Cuckoo Corner- the point is that the lights will better distribute the traffic depending on the amount cars appeoaching the roundabout thus allowing for smoother circulation, once one gets a green light on the roandabout junction one will be able to pass through all the remaining lights on green unless doing a 360 when one will have to wait once at a red. The lights will be adapted for differing times of day and differing traffic flows, the loops will detect the start of a queue and cause the sequecing to adapt. 

i actually went through last week from West to Eas quite quickly but there was a queue East to west, but then thee was also a lane closure and works further along, today I went through, again west to east very quickly when usually at that time i would have held up from about KFC and  there were no queues beyond about 4 cars in Priory Crescent.

Independent councillors fail to declare joint corporate interests! Police called into council chamber over protest!

Southend’s Independent Cllrs have failed to declare that they are directors of Independent for Southend Ltd. This is very likely a standards board case as the Register of Members Interests is quite quite clear on these issues and they have been Directors since at least May 2009! So much for Independents being whiter than white- first we learn they are in cahoots with the LibDems, then we get proof in that they have signed Graham Longley’s nomination papers, now we learn they have formed a company that they failed to declare. Really quite poor form from people who take such a holier than thou approach. It also puts lie to this notion that independents are not a ‘party’ truly independent individuals do not form companies together! Oh and I did I mention that a very rattled Cllr Woodley then stomped out  shouting abusive language towards the Nigel Holdcroft, leader of the Council! (to be clearCllr Delaney who was not present at Council and  Dr Vel was not part of this nor a director of their company )

The council was also cleared this evening when a small group of protesters started screeching and throwing leaflets onto the Independent group/party- the irony is of couse that Independent Cllr Woodley supports theses undemocratic protesters. Eventually the Police removed them. Sadly the tribute to a retiring Council Officer was  disrupted but after the small rabble was removed was able to continue. Shame really that such a silly group chose that moment to interrupt a fairwell tribute.

The Bigger Picture

As the trees come down, to enable the works to improve Cuckoo Corner, it easy to forget that this is just one piece in the jigsaw to improve Southend for residents and business. Southend Council has a programme of works  exceeding £25m, the schemes include providing a new central seafront area with fantastic new lighting columns and a really great feature fountain for when the tide is out, a new Warrior Square  Park is taking shape and to reduce congestion two bottlenecks on the A127 are funded for major improvements (Cuckoo Corner and Progress Road) whilst at Victoria Station a major public realm scheme is underway. Add to this the go ahead for the airport and Southend Council’s plans for a new museum and library in partnership with the college and university and the bigger picture starts to be come clear. Hotels are opening, regenerating and expanding, the new Garon Park pool has attracted Olympic interest, hoteliers are talking to Olympic organisers.  All these works are pouring money into the wider Southend and Essex economy through the contracts, around £1m a month from the airport  works alone and its only just started.

Southend is on the cusp of becoming a really exciting place to be, with good job prospects, a thriving economy based upon a cross section of opportunities, from tourism to precision engineering and avionics. The University and College are expanding, Metal is forging ahead, our beaches and parks are award winning and the Council is investing wisely in the public realm.

Nothing happens overnight and this is certainly true in respect of Councils and Goverment, indeed it has taken some 5 years to get all these schemes to fruition, to be able to tap into the funding, to prepare the everending business cases and to put everything in place, so now, as we start to deliver them, there is an almost tangible excitement about them.  However, we need to continue to work to promote the town, to be ready for the next funding round when it comes, as eventually it will, we still have the Bell and Kent Elms, we still need a better road to the East avoiding the central areas, we still need to plant trees and maintain and improve our streets, we still need to address the smaller Cliff slips and so the list goes on. Yes there’s lots to do and its also important that we can continue to improve the council, to offer good value for money, to offer excellent customer services as all these improvements help Southend residents and businesses on a daily basis.

Trees, trees, and more trees!

Today sees the start of the tree planting to replace those to be removed at Cuckoo Corner. I visited the depot to take at look at the Horse Chestnuts and to learn about how they will be secured.

These are not tiny saplings but fairly substantial specimens and they will be carefully anchored in place, looked after and nurtured, conkers could come at any time but most likely in a year or two. The first batch are already in the park being planted today and this group will follow tomorrow. Altogether the Council will  be planting some 41 trees to replace the 16, of which 4 are none too healthy, that are to be removed for the scheme.

These trees have been grown in the ground for some years in rich and replenished composts, they are lifted regularly to encourage a tight root ball then finally lifted and brought to the depot. Each tree will be carefully planted with root ties etc and then it will be monitored and looked after until it is fully established.

Trees and Saxon Artefacts.

Southend has succesfully bid for £25m for improvements to our roads and the central seafront. We are hoping to receive money for a new museum to be located in the Cliffs, but this funding has not been confirmed.

The road improvements are at Progress Road/A127, Cuckoo Corner and around Southend Victoria Station. All these schemes have been fully publicised, discussed and consulted upon, all will improve journey times through cutting queuing and will thus reduce carbon emissions, all include imporvements for cyclists and pedestrians. All have been proven to this Government’s satisfaction to offer a positive economic benefit v cost of scheme.

The new museum would house artefacts currently in other museums and the ‘Saxon King’ finds from Priory Cresent, it will form part of the cliff slip stabilisation and will also hopefully contain car parking, educational facilities and cafe/restuarants etc.

Last week a local action group against putting the ‘Saxon King’ finds in the new museum claimed that at Cuckoo Corner 100 trees were to be lost- rubbish, less than 20 will go, some of  them unhealthy ones and all will be replaced again on a 2 for 1 basis- ‘again’ because about 4 years ago a number of trees were planted close by in the park to replace those anticipated to be lost in an earlier scheme that did not go ahead. At Cuckoo corner there will be extensive landscaping as part of the scheme as there will also be at Progress Road

Outside Victoria Station some trees will need to be removed but again they will be replaced on a 2 for 1 basis and again far fewer than the action group are claiming and there will be extensive public realm works.

On City Beach there will be a great number of new trees planted and we are currently looking into planting trees (Palm Trees) along parts of the seafront.

WHY THE SAXON KING FINDS SHOULD NOT GO INTO PRIORY PARK 

The artefacts that were found are extrememly important and will attract many thousands of visitors even hundreds of thousands, they are extremely valuable and will need to be very securely kept and displayed. Visitors will arrive by coach, car and train.

Priory Park is home to the grade one listed priory and much of the park is classed as an ancient monument. It would be impossible for the Priory building to be sufficiently extended to accomodate the numbers that would vist and the building itself is far to fragile for such numbers. The designation of the land means that any new building would have to have virtually no foundations which would preclude a major museum. Making the existing building secure would be very very difficult without damaging the building and thus it would be unlikely to gain listed building consent.

The car park in Priory Park is quite small and to provide the additional parking needed would damage the park, a coach park would seriously spoil the park.

The site along Priory Cresecent cannot possibly house a museum it is just not big enough nor sufficiently accessible. It will be sensitively landscaped and a fitting memorial will be placed there. Once the work is complete we hope it will be given ‘ancient monument’ status so as to fully protect it  for years to come.