TORIES have heralded a victory for common sense after plans to introduce one-hour parking zones were saved... for now.

Before Tory group leader Tony Cox was ousted by the coalition he had proposed re-introducing one-hour parking in some areas and two-hour free parking zones in others, moves which were welcomed by traders.

Southend Council’s new ruling coalition then planned to delay the scheme until the costs could be properly examined.

However at a meeting on Monday night it was agreed the plans would go before the full council at the next meeting.

Mr Cox said: “It is a victory for common sense over party political posturing.

“I can only assume that the Southend Conservatives support for it led to the administration rejecting these proposals simply to play party politics.

“However, I am pleased that the members of the place scrutiny committee saw the common sense that lay within these proposals and have told the administration to rethink their approach to parking in our town.”

Deputy leader Ron Woodley raised concerns about the costs involved.

He said: “We have found out one-hour parking is going to cost the council £400,000 in terms of the impact.

“We are just three months into this financial year and the highways and infrastructure budget is £1.9million under pressure.

“This means that unless we look at the figures and get that under control, we are going to exceed the Tory-set revenue budget by £1.9million.

“We would be adding a £400,000 loss of revenue if we were to do this at this point, that would mean the cost pressures could reach £2.3million.”

He added that he was not prepared to speculate on why the budget is under such a strain until after a meeting with council officers next week where they will properly assess the council’s financial situation.

Another proposal was for two hour free parking along the High Street, a measure Mr Woodley said could cost the council as much as £1million. This was also referred to full council by council leader Ian Gilbert.

Mr Gilbert explained: “The Conservatives claim that we can institute some two hour free parking bays in a cost-neutral way, and I would be very pleased to hear how they would propose we do that, and would be happy to take such suggestions on board.”