HIGHWAYS bosses have thrown their weight behind plans for more pedestrian-only areas to be created in Basildon.

The Echo revealed yesterday that Basildon Council may consider removing up to 1,000 car parking spaces in the town centre to make way for new housing developments.


Sceptical - Pat Rackley

In the agenda for next week’s town centre revival committee meeting, it states the council may consider measures to bring more cycle paths, pedestrian walkways and park and ride services to reduce the amount of town centre traffic.

Essex Highways, the body that oversees the roads in Basildon, has now also backed the idea.

A spokesman said: “Encouraging walking, cycling and use of public transport is common ground between all councils in Essex and we will work with Basildon Council to achieve these aims.”

However, residents believe that many people will still want to drive to the town centre, despite the fact that, at present, the town centre spaces are only 58per cent full at peak periods.

Pat Rackley, 69, from Laindon, said: “I don’t think it’s going to work. Sometimes getting the bus is even more expensive than driving.

"There will be groups of young people that want to come into the town centre, but they will drive. They won’t take the bus, and they will have nowhere to park.

"There’s nothing long term about the idea.”

Cheryl Jason wrote on the Echo Facebook page: “I used to love going into the town centre many years ago, looking in the independent shops when the place was thriving.

“Now it’s a ghost town, and all because the greedy landlords have raised the rent and rates to eye-watering levels that are simply unaffordable.

“The place is dying on its feet, and nothing short of a real miracle will ever make it what it was so very long ago. It’s so sad.”

James Richards added: “There’s so many empty shops. People don’t want to go there.”