Fences pulled down at Parklife Priory proposed road, Southend

Priory Park white elephant

Friday 1st July 2005

Parklife take back king's burial site and ask: 'Is road F5 set to become the most expensive and destructive stretch of tarmac in the country?'

Local residents campaign group Parklife are taking direct action this morning, in their latest bid to stop Government funding for the controversial F5 dual carriageway scheme, planned for the A127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

Members of the group have taken down security fencing from around the site of the internationally renowned East Saxon king's burial, dubbed by the media as both the, 'Prince of Prittlewell' and 'King of Bling.' The burial was discovered during preparatory works for the road early in 2004, and has also been described by experts as, 'A discovery of international importance which stunningly illuminates the rich and complex world of the so-called Dark Ages.' (1)

A number of Parklife campaigners are now chained to the fencing, which was removed in order to keep the site open for people to use and enjoy once again as a local public green space. The group are calling for funding to be cancelled by Government office GO-East, and the Department for Transport, due to continued local opposition, spiralling costs, and the impact which will be caused to both Priory Park and the burial site.

Speaking from the site, campaigner Shaun Qureshi said, 'Priory Park and the king's burial are two of the places which make Southend special to the people of this town. These are the same people who oppose the planned destruction, and who have voiced this opposition only to be ignored each and every time they have spoken out.'

'More than 20,000 signatures were submitted by residents and groups against this road, compared to just 16 in favour during public consultation. 113 trees will be felled, and 3000m2 of public open space, including the burial site, will be buried permanently under concrete and tarmac if funding is granted.' (2)

The stretch of carriageway, which is due to be widened after the result of a local public inquiry was announced earlier this year, has been subject to continued local opposition from both residents and green groups. Costs are set to spiral beyond a figure already three times more than that initially agreed in December 2000, when the local authority makes its latest bid for cash, expected within the next month.

Anthony Bailey, from Parklife added, 'The price of the road was last calculated at £11.24m in 2004, for just 870 metres and two new lanes. This compares per mile, to the cost of a new motorway, with all of the associated destruction that it will bring to the most sensitive part of our town. (3)

'We therefore call upon GO-East and the DfT to reject funding and to stop this madness once and for all. If they do not listen now, then is this set to become the most expensive and destructive stretch of tarmac in the country?'

Notes to Editors:

1 Quote from Ian Blair, Senior Archaeologist on site of burial. Printed in Museum of London Press Office release, February 2004. www.museumoflondon.org.uk
2 Figures taken from representations by Southend Borough Council and consultant W.S. Atkins, during local public inquiry into F5 road scheme, March 2004.
3 Based on figures from Southend Borough Council's Local Transport Plan, Annual Progress Report, July 2004. Cost per mile for F5 road scheme is £20.791m, based upon £11.242m for the 870 metre stretch of carriageway. Comparisons to other schemes can be made at www.roadblock.org.uk