A road closure order - giving the council authority to close a section of Southend-on-Sea seafront to vehicles as a last resort to deal with any major safety concerns - is to be put in place from Friday 1 October.
This follows on from the trial of a late-night road closure on Marine Parade in July, which was in response to reckless driving and other anti-social behaviour that had led to some businesses having to close early.
The experimental road closure order will give the council the relevant powers to close the road to traffic at any time over an 18 month period, but will only be used if ‘absolutely necessary’ to protect residents, visitors and businesses. A review of the order will take place in six months.
The order applies to the area 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 would only be able to turn left from Southchurch Avenue onto Eastern Esplanade.
If the order is ever required to be activated, diversions would 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 would also be patrolling the area.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, asset management and inward investment, said: “This experimental road closure order will provide the council with the powers to close the road to traffic if absolutely necessary. We saw a number of high profile, dangerous incidents in the summer related to reckless driving, and we want to be in a position whereby we can take action swiftly and proactively as appropriate.
“We carried out a trial closure in July which seemed to deter reckless driving in the area, so we have taken the decision, following discussions with local traders, to set up this 18-month order. I must stress that any closure will only be implemented when absolutely necessary, and we would ensure any closures are promoted as widely as possible.
“We will continue to work hard with Essex Police to build on the good work we have seen in more recent weeks to tackle issues of anti-social behaviour and crime in those key hotspot areas.”