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The statistics for key services may indicate to planners in their ivory towers that Mersea may be able to support an 11% increase in dwellings, however experience on the ground very strongly refutes this proposal.
Developers may agree to provide contributions to the cost of some infrastructure improvements to gain approval for their money-making projects, but there are certain realities of life on Mersea which defy improvement or mitigation:-
1) Medical facilities - these have been patently inadequate for present requirements for some years and have defied all attempts to find and gain funding for a larger site and an increase in numbers of medical staff to cope adequately with the needs of the current population.
2) Access to Mersea - this is a small overcrowded island with one access road to and from the mainland. This road floods @ high Spring tides preventing access/egress for periods of several hours. This presents problems and huge traffic congestion which can only be exacerbated by an increase in population.
3) Parking - parking is a huge problem as facilities are completely inadequate for current residents and visitors to pursue their normal everyday activities (eg shopping car parks frequently full) let alone the waterfront sporting activities for which we are justly proud but have increasing difficulty in accessing. Again the proposed increase in population will make this worse as space for increased parking is not available where needed.
4) Schooling - as stated Mersea has no secondary schools so that children reaching the appropriate age must attend schools off the island. To maintain that the bussing facilities are adequate to deliver existing pupils to their schools in a timely manner are disingenuous, as recent cuts to services have caused huge problems for existing affected families. Again, increasing Mersea population by 11% can only exacerbate school transport problems.
It is also doubtful that the existing primary school can be expanded for such a potential increase in numbers without detriment.
5) Roads & Pavements - these are in a shocking and in many cases dangerous state of disrepair and the roadway system around the island is inadequate. When popular events such as fetes etc are organised the island frequently becomes gridlocked. Permitting such a large scale population increase will put yet more pressure on the system where there is no space to create alternatives.
6) Evacuation - with the likelihood of a new nuclear power station @ Bradwell now firmly back on the agenda, a responsible local authority should ensure that the Mersea population can be evacuated in a safe and timely manner. With the road system problems as exist now it is very dubious that this could be achieved so that any steps to increase a vulnerable population must be considered thoroughly irresponsible.