A FORMER councillor is spearheading a campaign to save a footbridge at a busy A127 junction.

Paul Collins has joined with residents living near the Kent Elms junction in Southend which is due to have the overhead walkway removed.

Mr Collins, a former councillor and now a local activist, says the route is used by schoolchildren and says residents feel the footbridge is vital for safety.

He said: “The council are planning to widen the A127 / Kent Elms Junction during 2016/2017 and the plans will include the removal of the footbridge that is used by schoolchildren accessing Eastwood Academy and Eastwood Primary School, as well as patients visiting the two health clinics on the Eastwood side of the A127.

“In addition the library and majority of shops are also on the north side of the A127 at Kent Elms.

“The council recently installed the staged pedestrian crossing beside the bridge, which does allow those with physical impairment the ability to cross the road, however, many parents and residents are concerned that this crossing is not safe and that the bridged crossing of what will become a six to eight lane highway will be the safest way to cross this busy road.

“Here is my message ‘Save our bridge’!”

He explained they would like to either have the bridge stay or something similar put in place, adding: “Parents want something there to protect their children and to maintain safety.”

Kevin Malone, 38, of Whitehouse Road, Eastwood, said: “From my point of view I don’t understand why they need to take down this bridge anyway.

“Some people might not want to put their faith in using the pelican crossing and might want to still use the footbridge.

“I have an aunt with bipolar and schizophrenia and this bridge is her link to the doctors surgery on the other side of the road. I don’t think she’s the sort of person that would want to use the crossing when she has certainty that the footbridge is safe.”

SOUTHEND Council says it will start talking to residents at a meeting next week.

Martin Terry, councillor for public protection and transport, said: “The council will start having conversations with local residents and businesses about our plans to widen the A127 at Kent Elms, once the council’s cabinet has considered officers’ proposals for this junction at their meeting on 15 March.

“The overall objectives of any future work will be to improve the flow of traffic at this busy junction whilst ensuring the safety of pedestrians and road users.

“The options that our cabinet will be reviewing actually include a new footbridge that will be more accessible to people with disabilities or pushing buggies and prams, as, unlike the current one, it would not have steps.”

Mr Terry said the footbridge could run alongside the traffic-light controlled crossing that was put in last year.

He added: “We very much hope that members of the public will turn up at our consultation event, scheduled to be held in the local area later this month, or give their feedback to our team in writing.

“The timetable for consultation will be announced after cabinet’s meeting on 15 March and local people will be made aware as to how they feed into the consultation process.

"Further, no decisions on the junction will be made until we have received and analysed the public feedback.”