A group of ten protesters from the campaign group Close Southend Airport Permanently brought the entire town centre to a standstill for SIX HOURS earlier today by using a busy zebra crossing continuously in perfectly-timed shifts – they were taking advantage of the law stating that vehicles can’t proceed until the crossing is clear. From 10am until 4pm today, all vehicles were diverted by police officers while the protesters crossed over London Road in pairs with perfect timing to ensure that the crossing was always in use, and local motorists reported a 2-mile tailback at one stage. According to the leader of the protest group, their goal was to demonstrate how the airport’s recent expansion has caused a ‘traffic hell’ for residents living close to the main terminal by creating traffic chaos in a peaceful and lawful way.
Herbert Nimbo is the chairperson of CSAP, and he spoke to our Chief Reporter at the scene while crossing the road repeatedly. He said: ‘Expanding Southend Airport has brought our town huge employment and tourism benefits, but a number of residents living near the airport had no idea that the airport was there when they first moved into the area as there was only one flight a month until early 2014 – one of our members who lives opposite actually thought that the whole complex was a big park with a huge long tarmac playground. Now that Easyjet and Stobarts have turned up, the noise and the traffic is unbearable, and the local council couldn’t care less.’
He added: ‘There are ten of us here today, and we will continue using this zebra crossing repeatedly until we have been here for six hours – this will give town centre folk a taste of the horror that we have to endure every single day. Many people feel that the 60-second walk from the brand new railway station to the airport terminal is too far, and so they all seem to want to come to Southend Airport by car these days. While other protest groups want to stop the airport from expanding any further, we want to go beyond this stage and get it closed down altogether, and we intend to take our lawful zebra crossing protests to every part of Southend until this happens.’
A spokesperson for Southend Council said: ‘We are very disappointed that CSAP has decided to take this course of action, and while we are powerless to stop them we would strongly discourage this form of orderly conduct because of the impact that it has on other drivers in the area. If these protests continue then we will be forced to take action, and plans have already been drawn up to paint over all of Southend’s zebra crossings as a precaution. Alternatively, we will add temporary footbridges at strategic points all over the borough, and these will be added with minimal disruption while the work is carried out, or possibly a whole world of disruption if things go pear-shaped.’