War of words in Seven Kings road reopening row

A BITTER war of words was waged over whether councillors should “put lives at risk” by reopening a road to traffic.

For the sixth time in eight years, the dilemma of Downshall Road, Seven Kings, was on the table.

Residents were out in force at Monday’s area committee five meeting to fight plans to reopen the road – closed to through traffic since 2003 – to ease congestion.

And scenes turned ugly during the meeting in Barley Lane Primary School, Huxley Drive, Chadwell Heath, as councillors fought to be heard above calls from the public for plans to reopen the road to be ditched.

Labour Cllr Andy Walker refused to continue talking on the issues after being heckled.

Former councillor Gary Staight told the committee: “We must put whether the closure improves safety on these two roads [Downshall Road and Meads Lane] against residents wanting it to open for their convenience.”

Downshall Road resident Loraine Sladden, also a former councillor, said: “Please do not waste any more council officer time on this. The residents of Downshall Avenue have had enough.”

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Another resident asked councillors: “Are you willing to put lives at risk by reopening it?”

The issue was last before the area committee in December 2009, when councillors agreed to keep it closed despite the results of a consultation which showed 86 per cent wanted Downshall Road to reopen.

But no resident spoke out in favour of the road reopening.

Labour Cllr Balvinder Saund said: “I’m in favour of the reopening with another way for the traffic to be sorted out.”

The committee agreed to look again at the issue when the new financial year begins in April.

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