A late night road closure is to be trialled on Southend-on-Sea seafront this weekend, in response to recent reckless driving and other anti-social behaviour that has led to some businesses having to close early.
The road closure notice will be in place from 9pm to 8am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, but the closure will be flexible and start time may be varied and removed earlier if the situation allows. It will run from the turnaround point on Western Esplanade (Robertos kiosk), through Marine Parade (City Beach) and end at the junction of Southchurch Avenue and Eastern Esplanade (The Kursaal). Vehicles will only be able to turn left from Southchurch Avenue onto Eastern Esplanade.
Diversions will be in place and clearly signed, with the road closure being marshalled at the Western Esplanade end to allow emergency vehicles and traders through the restricted zone. Essex Police and community safety officers will also be patrolling the area.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for highways, says: “This closure will prevent vehicles accessing the City Beach area in the evenings and overnight, which is often busy with families and people enjoying their day out. At the very same time, we are seeing a minority of people driving recklessly, parking illegally, and giving no thought to others and putting lives in danger.
“This is contributing to a tense and unpleasant atmosphere in the central seafront area as the day goes on, at a time when we are seeing more families visit our area and also stay later. We are looking at longer-term solutions to deal with this issue, but we also need to do something now, and so we are willing to try ideas like this, assess the impact and any issues caused by this, and decide whether we carry on with the trial. The road closure order will be in place from 9pm to 8am. However, we will try to flexible to the needs of the situation and start time may be varied or lifted earlier if we can. This will all form part of a review after the weekend too.
“I am also acutely aware that there are wider issues at play, and we are working hard with Essex Police and other emergency services and businesses to tackle the other issues we face such as anti-social behaviour and the more serious incidents that we know are impacting on our reputation as a good place to visit and stay. We do have more police on duty which is good news, and I and other councillors will continue to press the case for Southend.”
Chief Inspector Ian Hughes, District Commander for Southend, said: “We have no issue with true car enthusiasts who meet in sensible locations with the landowner’s consent with roadworthy cars and who are respectful to the local community. However, we cannot tolerate dangerous and anti-social driving and the wellbeing and impact on our wider community is always the most important thing for us and our partners.
“There are a number of tactics we and our partners can utilise to keep people safe and reduce impact of and road closures are one of these. We’ll continue to work with the council to monitor and review this action to ensure the benefit to the wider community.”