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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Essex Highways Should Keep Their Hands off Our Pedestrian Crossings

You may have seen the article in the Gazette on Thursday (April 23rd) regarding plans by Essex Highways, led by Conservative Councillor Rodney Bass, to close two pedestrian crossings. One is at the top of North Hill between Pat Molloy's Irish bar and Chewton Rose estate agents. The other (the closure of which has been formally rubber stamped) is between the same estate agents and Coral betting shop.
These plans make no sense whatsoever. Anyone who knows this area of town will be well aware that nearby is Colchester Sixth Form College, where I teach History and which has approximately 3000 students. Both crossings are regularly used by the students as they pour out of college at lunchtime or at the end of the college day. In addition they are regularly used by the residents of Balkerne Gardens sheltered housing accommodation.
Like the recent plans to mess around with the Cymbeline Way pedestrian crossing, this all smacks of decisions being made by people who not only don't use their feet to travel around Colchester town centre but also have conducted no basic research into the needs and requirements of nearby educational institutions or senior citizens. It is gambling with people's safety in a reckless and slapdash manner.
Essex County Council argue that the plans are part of the recent new Park and Ride scheme and that they would allow buses quicker access to the High Street. I have no problem with the intention here, indeed I totally support the need to make public transport more attractive. So does the Green Party, which is why we favour a return to proper bus regulation and major investment into bus services. However removing pedestrian crossings in key locations is not the right way to go about it. They are there for a reason and the last thing we need is an accident because people are still cutting across at those points.
Yes I want students and senior citizens to get a more efficient bus service but not if it leads to them being knocked down by one!

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