ARCHITECTS of Southend’s seafront shared space are adamantly standing by the controversial scheme, despite pressure to make changes.

The Tory leaders of Southend Council say there will be no “kneejerk” reaction to last week’s accident in Marine Parade.

The incident left a six-year-old boy in hospital with a suspected broken leg.

The Lib Dem opposition believe the crash is clear evidence of why the Tories should scrap the scheme.

But Tony Cox, councillor responsible for highways, said: “The accident was very unfortunate.

“Obviously, we wish the boy a speedy recovery, but we must avoid a kneejerk reaction.

“It seems very extreme to say a concept does not work simply because of an accident which, frankly, could have occurred on any street in the borough.”

Creating shared spaces was a key element of the council’s regeneration plan, which won it Government funding for the multi-million pound City Beach and Victoria Gateway revamps.

However, the new areas, in which the roads blend into the pavements, have been mired in controversy since they opened in March.

Despite criticism from councillors, camapigners and disabled groups, including the National Federation of the Blind and the Guide Dogs, the council has so far resisted calls for pedestrian crossings to be introduced.

Ric Morgan, the Lib Dem’s spokesman on culture and tourism, said changes must be made after the boy was hit by one of the council’s own CCTV “spy cars” last Thursday.

Mr Morgan said: “The shared space areas on the Golden Mile and at Victoria Gateway are a serious danger because they have highways running through them.

“The seafront road has already had accidents. The bus lane past Victoria railway station, which is now a rat-run from Victoria Avenue to Southchurch Road, is a frightening place for pedestrians.

“What is more acceptable, a Tory climb-down, or more people being knocked down?”