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Southend rules out signing up to 'restrictive' 15-minute cities scheme

Southend rules out signing up to 'restrictive' 15-minute cities scheme <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Southend rules out signing up to 'restrictive' 15-minute cities scheme (Image: Newsquest)

SOUTHEND Council has ruled out ever signing up to a 15-minute city scheme which restricts residents’ ability to travel freely across the city.

Councils across the country are signing up to a net zero 2030 scheme and some are including plans for 15-minute cities where residents have everything they need within a 15-minute walk, cycle of public transport ride.

This includes work, health care, education and leisure facilities, and is aimed at reducing car journeys.

Some cities like Oxford are taking things further and limiting the number of journeys between designated 15-minute neighbourhoods, with fines for those who exceed their limit of around 100 journeys a year.

While Southend’s local plan will have eight “complete neighbourhoods”, the Labour-led joint administration with the Lib Dems and Independents says it will fight to prevent any restrictive scheme being implemented in Southend.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, said: “We haven’t signed up to any scheme. We haven’t considered it as a council. Although I favour having facilities near people, like doctors and chemists, this inter-zonal travel charging, I’m totally against. I’m totally against charging zones and restrictions on movements.

“Our local plan is broken down into neighbourhoods. It makes sense to have facilities within them so that people don’t have to travel great distances, but that is different to restricting people’s travel and charging through different zones.”

The scheme has been ruled out after the Echo reported that despite Southend not signing up, it had been pencilled into the city’s local plan, with towns such as Leigh or Westcliff becoming one of eight 15-minute neighbourhoods.

Asked if she would fight any schemes restricting residents’ movements, Ms Mulroney said: “Absolutely. There is no thought about anything like what Oxford are trying to do.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward, added: “I can confirm that there are no plans to bring this scheme to Southend.

“It’s an urban planning concept, and one which as a concept I think is fairly sound. However, there have been suggestions of this sort of scheme preventing people from leaving their immediate neighbourhood, which is not something I support.”