Controversial traffic lights saga rumbles on

MEMBERS of a residents’ action group turned out in force yesterday to oppose a controversial plan to install traffic lights at a junction on Debden Road.

More than 40 people packed into the district council offices yesterday (Wednesday) to hear councillors agree that a traffic management survey should be carried out before plans to erect a signal controlled junction were given the green light.

The proposal was related to a planning application to build 76 houses and a junior school at the Friends’ School site in the town. Money from a section 106 agreement was to be spent on erecting the lights in a bid to alleviate the increase in traffic.

But residents believe the measure is unnecessary. An action group called WeAreResidents has been formed to oppose the decision, with members insisting there is no evidence to suggest traffic lights are needed on the junction with Mount Pleasant Road and Borough Lane.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Eryl Stafford, who lives in Mount Pleasant Road, told the planning committee that it had been only opinion presented by highways officers and not “hard evidence”.

“This scheme is too controversial and the downside too great for it to be approved on opinion only,” he said.

“We have sent you the hard facts that prove these lights are not needed for either traffic or safety.”

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He added that of the 311 homes impacted by the proposal, 280 people had signed a petition opposing it.

“They say no to standing traffic, urban clearways, environmental fines, side-street rat-runs and children in greater danger,” he said.

But the planning committee was told by the council’s legal officer Mike Perry that it could only approve the removal of two other conditions related to the development and was not able to amend the section 106 agreement related to the traffic lights.

Instead, Cllr Cant suggested the committee send a strongly-worded letter to Essex County Council saying the issue needed to be looked at again and that a traffic survey was the best way forward.

The decision to remove the two conditions, along with a letter to the county council advising that a traffic survey be carried out, was approved by councillors.

Dan Starr, speaking on behalf of WeAreResidents, said after the meeting that the group was already working out its next strategy.