SOUTHEND’S next Tory leader has warned Essex County Council against introducing “blanket”

speed restrictions on the A127.

Southend Council has agreed to bid for £44.2million of Government cash to improve the road, with the county council.

But as the cabinet signed off the joint bid last week, deputy leader John Lamb spoke out against his Tory colleagues in Chelmsford, accusing them of harming business with indiscriminate speed limits across their stretch of the dual carriageway.

Mr Lamb, who will take over as leader of Southend’s Tories from May as leader Nigel Holdcroft retires, said: “One of the concerns I havewith Essex is we need them to invest in a major road which is fit to take tens of thousands of vehicles each day, but we don’t want them to introduce average speed restrictions across the whole length of it.

“The county council put in speed restrictions to cope with small blackspots by introducing a blanket ban that affects business.

“I will challenge this.”

A document drawn up by both authorities discusses extending a 50mph limit across the entire length of the A127 under county council control to prevent casualties, but warns it would frustrate drivers at off-peak times.

Planners see no “insurmountable”

problems with introducing variable speed limits between the M25 and the Fairglen junction, near Rayleigh, and say a business case would need to be developed after consultation.

The £4.7million scheme would be enforced using average speed cameras along the route, but new electronic signs would be needed at every junction to warn drivers of the speed limit, which would be adjusted according to traffic flow and any incidents.

The joint plan, entitled Corridor for Growth, says: “Initially, no insurmountable problems with the technology have been foreseen, and Essex County Council Highways’ legal section has confirmed, provided there are the relevant speed limit orders in place, a variable speed limit on the A127 is possible.”

Acounty council spokeswoman said: “We do not issue blanket speed limits, we look at the appropriate limit for a length of road.”