CONSULTANTS have been paid thousands of pounds to look at the impact on traffic if the expansion of Southend Airport goes ahead, but a senior councillor has admitted it has not produced any new facts.

Southend and Rochford District councils employed the private firm Halcrow to study traffic flows for various amounts of growth at the airport. Bosses would not give an exact figure for the cost.

The report, which was done via computer, without visiting the site, concluded it would be possible to cope with the increased level of traffic. But there would need to be improvements at junctions on the A127 and the diversion of Eastwoodbury Lane, with changes having to be considered, including a possible bus-only link.

Anna Waite, Southend councillor responsible for transport, said the report did not say anything which was not already known by local people.

She said: “Unfortunately, we have to produce these consultants reports for the eventual public hearing, because an inspector doesn’t seem to believe that we are capable of doing it ourselves.

“I personally believe the people who are there on the ground have a much better knowledge of what needs to be done in Southend than some consultant just looking at a computer model, who doesn’t understand what is happening on the ground.

“We are already seeking to do all the improvements which are in the report, and we will contnue to develop improvements to the traffic flows in the town.

“Unfortunately, we just have to produce these reports. If we don’t play the game, then we don’t get the money or the planning consent. Government seems to have the opinion that local councils can’t do things themselves.”

As leader of Southend Council four years ago, Mrs Waite waged war on the increasing amount being spent on consultants, and said they would only be used when absolutely necessary.

Keith Hudson, Rochford district councillor responsible for transport, added: “It is a comprehensive report, but there are no surprises in it, and it really doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already.”