CAMPAIGNERS have called for parking charges in Southend to double and more bus lanes to be introduced.

Independent Southend councillor Martin Terry suggested a regular circle route to run between Leigh and Southend via the hospital from early morning to late evening and a possible tram link between Southend Central rail station and Southend Victoria Station, also serving the airport.

South East Essex Friends of the Earth supported the suggestions to cut the number of cars on the road and pollution but also claimed the measures do not go far enough.

Campaigner Jon Fuller said: “I wholeheartedly agree with Martin Terry that more should have been done, and that we have wasted the last 20 years. But I criticise Martin Terry and the Independent group for not having done more when they were in charge at the council.

“Martin Terry is one of those councillors who never seemed to appreciate the other side of the Brighton strategy - to get cars off the road - a substantial increase in car parking charges to reduce the number of drivers entering the centre and also the need to increase the number of sections of bus lane, to ensure buses are not held up by car drivers.

“For public transport to succeed we need to push out the private car.”

Mr Terry said: “Our first priority is pollution and high congestion. I don’t think that would be achieved by putting in more bus lanes. If anything that would make things worse.

“When I was portfolio holder I did suggest to council officers that we start to talk to the Government about getting some leverage on bus companies in the borough.

“In Brighton there is just one bus company but in Southend there are two or three companies. If the Government gave us permission to just have one we could use stronger routes to support weaker ones. It is something I’m going to push for because Brighton’s system works very well.”

He added: “I’m not an advocate of increased parking charges.

“What we need to do first is to get better public transport.”