TRADERS claim they have been kept in the dark over a new road layout which will make way for a £300million regeneration of the Queensway estate.

Under a ten year plan to transform the heart of Southend, the council is proposing to turn the underpass linking the seafront and the town centre into a single carriageway.

Currently a duel carriageway, it still gets gridlocked on busy weekends. Traders fear there will be traffic chaos if it becomes a single road.

Paul Thompson, chairman of the Southend Seafront Traders’ Association said: “This is very worrying. The first I knew about it was from the Echo. I had been assured the underpass would remain the same but I’ve since been told it’s going to be cut down to a single lane.

“I’ve spoken to a number of councillors and representatives of the Business Improvement District and no one knows about a lane going.”

Mr Thompson added: “On the A127 they are widening Kent Elms to ease the traffic flow but they’re narrowing roads to prevent people getting into the town centre. It doesn’t make sense.”

The plans include removal of the Porters roundabout. Traffic will instead be directed down Chichester Road and into Southchurch Road. Cars will also no longer be able to reach the seafront by driving past Warrior Square.

Tony Cox, councillor responsible for transport, said: “We had no intention of hiding anything. We have offered to give traders a briefing and I’m meeting with officers on Wednesday.

“These are only proposals and can be looked at. They are not set in stone and if anyone has any ideas we will look at them. Plans can be modified.”

Martin Terry, Independent councillor for Thorpe ward has called in the plans to cabinet on Thursday.