CONCRETE, tarmac – or even cockle shells – could replace grass verges in a narrow road after residents’ cars were damaged by vehicles squeezing past.

Southend Council has agreed to harden grass verges in Woodfield Park Drive, Chalkwell, as long as most residents in the road agree.

A total of 62 people signed a petition calling for space off the carriageway to avoid damage from passing lorries and trucks and fines for parking on the grass.

But the authority insists it needs at least 40 per cent of residents to reply to its own survey and 70 per cent to back the hardening before work is carried out.

Tony Cox, Tory councillor responsible for transport, said: “A petition is great to get the ball rolling, but I think it would be wrong to go on and carry out the work without a wider consultation.

“We don’t want it leveled at the council that we haven’t asked people.”

The road is the narrowest between Chalkwell Park and Elm Road, Leigh.

Verges on the eastern side of the road, between London Road and Leigh Road, were hardened some time ago to create offstreet parking.

The council put up signs banning parking on grass verges on the opposite side in 2011-12.

Lynne Sellers’ car was written off in December when a passing vehicle tore off half of its side.

She said: “It was destroyed by a very large vehicle going by that couldn’t get between my car and the car on the other side of the road.

“It completely took the side out of the vehicle.”

Many other residents have lost wing mirrors or been fined for parking on verges to avoid damage.

Amanda Bannister has had two penalty notices and her husband three.

Richard Caplin, who has lost two mirrors, said: “I’ve got two young children and I don’t let them play on the road, because if they run between cars, there won’t be time for a driver to stop.”

Two residents have objected to the proposal, saying it would spoil the beauty of the road, adding parked cars would block the pavement and create more pressure on drains.

Councillors agree to add the road to a list of those with verges to be hardened in the coming financial year, if enough residents backed the plan.

The hardening, which could be done with concrete, tarmac or cockle shells, will be prioritised and carried out as money becomes available.