POOR air quality caused by heavy traffic in Rayleigh needs extra Government funding to solve the problem, according to councillors.

Keith Gordon, Rochford councillor responsible for the environment, says air pollution, which is above national guidelines in Rayleigh is being monitored, but claims little can be done to improve air quality without extra powers from the Government and more cash.

An area of the town from the A127 up High Road, High Street and Hockley Road, as well as parts of Eastwood Road and Crown Hill is being monitored.

The annual average level of nitrogen dioxide – a pollutant associated with exhaust emissions – is just over the Government guidelines.

Mr Gordon said: “Without powers or funding I don’t know what we are expected to do about it. The levels are not dangerous.

It is not something for people to worry about.”

Cheryl Roe, district councillor and chairman of the town council’s environment committee, hopes the Rayleigh Area Action Plan, which was submitted to the Government in December, will go some way to alleviating the problem which she says people do worry about.

She said: “The pollution needs to be looked at. We need to ease the flow of traffic through the town centre and stop people getting stuck for so long.

“One of the ways could be to stop having zebra crossings on top of mini-roundabouts.”

Julie Cole, owner of the Rayleigh Retreat, in High Street and Coles Vintage Tea Room in Eastwood Road, said traffic congestion is keeping people out of the town.

She said: “There is definitely a problem with the traffic flow, it is gridlocked from 3pm to 7pm.

“With that many cars sitting in traffic, it can’t be good for air pollution.

“It’s got so bad that people know they can’t get into town and small businesses are struggling.”