THE Echo is calling on Southend council to apply some common sense where the seafront’s shared space is concerned.

Two children hurt there within six weeks has led to increased calls for the necessary changes to be made within the controversial area, for example, signs to inform drivers what’s going on.

A 14-year-old girl was taken to hospital after being hit in Marine Parade on Wednesday evening.

This follows a six-year-old boy being knocked down and left with a broken leg after being struck by the council’s CCTV spy car.

Yet Southend Council still insists the accidents could have happened anywhere – and the shared space concept is definitely not to blame.

A comment left by “live in Westcliff” on the Echo’s website following Wednesday’s incident was particularly apt.

It read: “The problem with the shared space scheme is that unless the drivers read the Echo they wouldn’t have a clue that is what it is supposed to be.

“If there was a sign indicating ‘this is a shared space zone please give way to pedestrians’ then maybe more cars would stop. Recently, I drove along the seafront and was stopping to let people cross and I could see in my mirror the driver behind me was getting irate, but obviously he didn’t know that is what you are supposed to do.”

Graham Longley, leader of the Lib Dem group on Southend Council, agreed, but said drastic changes were not needed.

He believed simple signs at the entrance to the shared space would make motorists aware. He said: “The administration should willingly address the issue before they are forced to by further accidents and problems.

“We are considering our position as a group and feel we may need to do something, not necessarily a demonstration, but a practical attempt to show that it really does not work.”

Ian Gilbert, Labour group leader, added: “People like the design, but they do have safety concerns.”

Martin Terry, Independent leader, agreed that minor adjustments could make a big difference.

Nigel Holdcroft, council leader, has now asked for accident stats for Marine Parade so he can determine whether incidents have increased.

He said: “My sympathy goes to the girl who was hurt. My understanding is this took place in an area where the road is clearly distinguishable and so did the last incident and both were caused by people running across the road in front of cars.”

He would not be drawn on whether action would be taken if the figures showed an increase in incidents.


THE concept of shared space sounds modern and forward-thinking and was no doubt dreamed up by someone “thinking outside the box”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with innovation and without it we would still be dodging horse-drawn carriages on hay-strewn roads. But we need a level playing field here.

Both pedestrains and motorists must be crystal clear about how to use shared space.

It is no use throwing them together in the vague hope everyone will behave sensibly and no one will get hurt. This is the real world. And that theory has proved wrong on two occasions already.

It’s time for the council to face up to its responsibilities, even if that does involve doing a U-turn on providing people with clear signs spelling out exactly how motorists should approach driving within shared space.

A snap poll conducted by the Echo yesterday proves people are anything but sure how this area works.

Motorists clearly don’t grasp the concept of “engaging” with pedestrians, making eye-contact in order to somehow glean what they might be about to do from their expressions.

It is certainly clear they do not understand that pedestrians should be given right of way.

Come on Southend Council, the Government has, on occasions, manned-up and admitted its big ideas might need a bit of tweaking.

It’s time for the council to do the same.

It might seem like giving in to the hysterical masses, but what’s a red face or two if it saves a life... And you never know, people might just respect you all the more for admitting this time you got it wrong.