SOUTHEND Council has been accused of making a Big Mac-stake by banning residents from parking outside their homes amid fears of long queues forming at a newly re-opened McDonald’s.

Furious residents were given less than a day’s notice to move their cars from outside their homes as McDonald’s, in Eastern Avenue, Southend, re-opens its drive-thru today.

The entrance to the fast food restaurant is via Cokefield Avenue.

And in preparation for anticipated queues, the council has suspended parking from today for the whole of Cokefield Avenue and Pantile Avenue.

The signs went up on Monday evening leaving residents worried about having to park several streets away.

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Many of the residents live with disabilities and cannot walk long distances, while some are key workers who are fearful of their driveways being blocked by cars queuing for McDonald’s.

John Black works as a porter at Southend Hospital A&E, and is on almost-constant call-out, meaning he may need to travel to the hospital at any time at short notice.

The 67-year-old said: “It’s ridiculous just for one McDonald’s. I have to get off my driveway for my job but that’s not going to happen is it?

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“That McDonald’s should not have been allowed to re-open, it should have been used as a delivery-only one and the one a mile away should be used instead, which has a proper drive-thru and doesn’t affect the residential area.

“It causes havoc at normal times but with them having half the staff and being slower it is going to cause gridlock so bad.”

People wanting to use the drive-thru will not be able to enter from Hamstel Road and turn right into the drive through, they will have to use a one-way system up Pantile Avenue and Cokefield Avenue from Cluny Square.

Mr Black added: “How can you change the layout of the road just for a McDonald’s?

“I know it’s unprecedented times for everybody and nobody has lived through a pandemic before but come on we can’t be expected to give up everything that we’ve got for one McDonald’s.”

Another resident in Cokefield Avenue planned to park her car on the grass in front of her home but says the council will not allow it since she does not own it.

She said: “I do feel for them at McDonald’s as it’s not their fault. My daughter works at McDonald’s but it is going to cause a lot of problems.

“I can’t walk too far as I have COPD and diabetes. I was going to park my car on the grass but because I don’t own it the council won’t allow it. I have no idea where I am going to park.”

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A neighbour who did not want to be named added: “I don’t know how they can disrupt three or four streets just to sell burgers.

“The council has not given us any time at all to organise different parking.

“They are saying on the notice that it is due to safety concerns; well if it really is safety concerns then McDonald’s shouldn’t be open yet.

“There has been no consultation with residents other than an airy fairy letter from McDonald’s on Saturday which didn’t confirm anything.

“A neighbour of mine has a four-week-old baby and she says it’s a nightmare as it is without having to traipse three streets away.”

There is also a bus route along Cokefield Avenue with one of the bus stops directly opposite the McDonald’s, raising concerns around the traffic backing up and the buses struggling to get past.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “Our team in Southend has been proactive in engaging with the police and Southend Council to help manage the impact that re-opening will have on residents.

“Last week the restaurant team wrote to residents in anticipation that there may be some temporary disruption, and we appreciate their patience over the next few days.”

Ron Woodley, Southend Council cabinet member for transport, added: “With the announcement McDonald’s are to re-open all their drive thru restaurants to the public, We were asked to work closely with Essex Police to ensure a temporary and safe traffic management system is in place to accommodate an expected influx of visitors to both sites.

“We are suspending parking on the carriageway along Cokefield Avenue and Pantile Avenue between 10am and 10pm, with the suspension in place for up to two weeks if necessary, but this will be under constant review and reduced and removed as soon as possible.

“There will be a line of cones and barriers in the middle of Cokefield Avenue preventing vehicles turning right in to McDonald’s. 

“They will be directed to join the end of the queue. Vehicles will only be able to enter the site by turning left in from the queue, and vehicles leaving will only be able to turn left out."