Traders fight to keep vital link
By Sharon AsplinTRADERS have been out in force to protest at a possible plan to cut off their vital lifeline to a town centre.West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns joined members of the Moulsham Traders' Association on Saturday to celebrate the first anniversary of the reinstatement of the historic road link between the town's High Street and Moulsham Street.
By Sharon Asplin
TRADERS have been out in force to protest at a possible plan to cut off their vital lifeline to a town centre.
West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns joined members of the Moulsham Traders' Association on Saturday to celebrate the first anniversary of the reinstatement of the historic road link between the town's High Street and Moulsham Street.
They were also gathering petitions to support their campaign to retain the link in the wake of a proposal by Essex County Council to possibly remove it to ease traffic congestion.
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Thirty years ago, the new Parkway road sliced through Moulsham Street, leaving traders at one end isolated from the town centre. Pedestrians could only reach shops there by using an unpopular and dark underpass.
Association chairman Brian Pawsey, who owns Gibsons Sports and the Essex Trophy Company, said traders had fought hard for six years to re-link both ends of Moulsham Street and eventually they won their battle with the establishment of the pelican crossing, costing £300,000.
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"It is a lot of money for the Council Tax payers, particularly at a time when the council is supposed to be tightening its belt, and we now have over 3,000 signatures opposing its removal, with people coming in our shops just to sign the petition," he added.
"They are up in arms about the possibility it could go. Traders have seen an increase in trade since it was there and the elderly people from the nearby sheltered housing say they cannot do without it as they cannot use the subway."
Mr Burns, who spent part of the morning helping to gather names for the petition, said: "This crossing is very popular with people who are using it a hell of a lot and it has been good for business.
"There is no need whatsoever to scrap it. It does not cause undue congestion, particularly not in the day, and the council could alter the timings of the lights to cater for the morning and afternoon rush hours."
A spokesman for Essex County Council said the crossing had caused problems with traffic on Parkway.
He added the timings of the signals had been changed last month and were now being kept under observation.
"There have been delays as the crossing is very close to the Army and Navy flyover, which has its own problems," said the spokesman.
"There is one option to get rid of it completely, but it is just one of a number of options being considered and there is no indication that it is inevitable."
A final decision is expected later this month.