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£1million seafront path plans given thumbs-up
11:39am Tuesday 3rd July 2012 in Southend
MORE than £1million has been earmarked to kick-start plans to transform a popular seafront trail and open it up to cyclists.
Chiefs at Southend Council will spend the cash drawing up plans for the widening and strengthening of the Cinder Path, in Leigh, to allow bikes to use it for the first time.
The route, which runs between Old Leigh and Chalkwell railway station, is frequently used by tourists and dog-walkers enjoying a stroll along the seafront.
Cyclists have always been banned from the path because of the narrowness of some its sections, although many riders flout the rules.
Andrew Lewis, the council’s corporate director for enterprise, tourism and the environment, said: “The sum of £1million has been set aside in the capital programme to support the further development of the Cinder Path, which runs from Chalkwell to Leigh.
“We want to enhance the route to make it equally accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Cinder Path project is one of a series of schemes being developed by the council to improve cycle routes around the town.
While some parts of the path are relatively wide, in other places it narrows to little more than a metre in width. Apart from a small section near the Kursaal, it is the only area of the seafront in which cyclists must dismount and push their bikes.
Campaign groups such as Sustrans, and the now defunct regeneration company Renaissance Southend, have previously drawn up plans to try to improve the path.
Among the ideas are expensive concrete or boardwalk extensions into the estuary, as well as viewing platforms where walkers or cyclists could stop to admire the views.
However, Mr Lewis said the funding needed to finish the scheme would be much greater than £1million.
The council hopes to finish the blueprint by the end of the financial year in March, and then bid for funding to make it a reality.
Mr Lewis said: “The funding allocated in the capital programme is just a fraction of what would be required.
“However, the money will enable us to devise a plan to take these planned enhancements forward when the economic situation changes and further external funding becomes available.”
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