THE A127 should become a motorway with junction improvements just the start, according to the leader of Southend Council.

Tory councillor John Lamb revealed his ambitions for the major route as the cabinet agreed to move ahead with a £5million scheme for the Bell junction during a meeting yesterday.

He said: “What we want to see is the whole road upgraded to a trunk road, which would mean it would be maintained by Highways England who have a lot more money to keep the road up to the standard it should be.

“We want to see investment and we’d like to see it brought up to a motorway.

“We are looking at what we can do and have been working with other councils like Thurrock for opportunities.

“Brentwood, Basildon and Rochford are all coming on board as they see the A127 as main artery.

“For Southend it is also the main artery for our businesses and residents in and out of the town, just like the A13.

“We can’t do it all at once but we can get projects like this one in place.

“We’ve already been taking steps by improving Cuckoo Corner, Progress Road, Tesco corner and Kent Elms.

“Bell junction is the next step and all these things are set to improve the whole traffic infrastructure throughout the town.”

The £5million Bell junction scheme aims to ease congestion on the A127 and under plans agreed by senior councillors during the cabinet meeting there will be several major changes to the road’s layout.

This includes removing an existing footbridge, stopping traffic from turning right into Rochford Road, adding a dedicated left-turn slip road from the A127 eastbound carriageway onto Rochford Road and an improved right-turn filter lane from A127 onto Hobleythick Lane.

The council is relying on £4.3m from the Local Growth Fund via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, with £720,000 coming from the council’s own resources.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Councillor Tony Cox said: “We shouldn’t lose sight that this is one thing in our long-term vision to improve the A127.

“It will help traffic to move a lot more freely than it does. If we keep the traffic moving it will also help with air quality.”

Councillor Andrew Moring, chairman of the council’s traffic committee, said: “Bell junction is perhaps the most difficult junction due to the lack of space. We’ve had a consultation with members of the public and we are now looking at a recommendation based on that feedback.

“It does mean the removal of the footbridge.”