SOUTHEND High Street once had cars flowing through the middle more than 50 years ago.

Whether that would be possible again and if it would increase numbers in the high street is a debate to be had.

However, one Southend business owner, thinks it would be bad step and thinks the solution to increasing footfall is by not encouraging cars.

Antony Tomassi, the owner of Tomassi’s café on Southend High Street, was there when cars were able to travel through the middle.

“My feelings on de-pedestrianising would be a bad step, I completely retrogress this idea.

“I was here when we had cars going up and down the high street, it was fine, my shop was in a slightly different place on the high street to now, but it was fine.

“But pedestrianisation is better. It is safer for everybody, and it is environmentally nicer as firstly, you’ve got the problems of cars and the fumes that they make so that is not good for children.

“I think the art is to make access to car parking for people that come by car, easier in Southend and as close to the high street as possible.

“The solution is not to try and encourage cars in that way.”

Echo: Southend High Street - now without the roadSouthend High Street - now without the road

Ron Woodley, deputy leader and cabinet member for transport, capital, and inward investment, doesn’t really think a road through the middle again would have a purpose and believes adding more properties is what will boost the high street.

“I am not sure what the purpose would be for that now, because I personally don’t think it would increase numbers in the town.

“I think what we have done in terms of offering people the Southend pass, which means they can park relatively cheap at 28p a day.

“The footfall has held up reasonably well I understand, so it is about what we do in regenerating the town centre and I think you do that by having more people living there.

“As if you have more people living there, then you get more visitors and then you would have more independent shops.”