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Campaigners may lose fight for tragic Joe’s crossing in Westcliff
INSTALLING a new crossing at the spot where a six-year-old boy was killed could make the road more dangerous, council bosses have claimed.
Breaking their silence for the first time since Joseph Ball died last year, highways experts at Southend Council warned a campaign to improve safety could actually have the opposite effect.
Joseph was killed when he was struck by a biker as he crossed London Road, Westcliff, in October.
The tragedy prompted more than 10,000 people to sign a petition calling for improvements.
But Andrew Lewis, the council’s corporate director for enterprise, tourism and the environment, said bosses thought it would make the situation worse.
He said: “It can be the case that incredibly well-intentioned initiatives actually have unintended consequences. That is clearly the last thing we want to do.
“With that in mind, we have set out all the options available to councillors so they can make a reasoned decision.”
In the wake of Joseph’s death, council chiefs promised a full investigation into whether additional safety measures were needed at the accident site.
Their new report, which will be discussed by councillors next week, is the culmination of that process.
Although no firm recommendations are made in the document, bosses set out the case against a new crossing.
Statistics show that, on average, crossings generate nearly one incident every year as drivers try to beat traffic lights and pedestrians become careless.
That means, unless a targeted site already has a serious history of problems, it theoretically increases the chances of an accident if a crossing is installed.
At the spot where Joseph died, near the junction with Balmoral Road, there have only been five other incidents in the past few years.
Other options put forward by council chiefs include holding special classes with pupils at Joseph’s primary school, Milton Hall, to teach them about road safety, and installing fresh safety signs in London Road.
However, even with such measures, Tony Cox, the Tory councillor responsible for transport, pointed out Joseph could still have died.
He said: “We have to remember this tragedy was caused by a man who was speeding, unlicensed and should not have been on the road.
“Nothing we do can mitigate for that.
“However, I want to emphasise the emotions officers have been through when dealing with this case.
“This has not been easy for anyone, and no decision has been taken lightly.”