I felt safe yesterday. It was a blue-sky day. A goldfinch was singing above one of the 11 locks along the River Chelmer.
There are 20 bridges between Maldon and Chelmsford. Idyllic in every sense. Ten miles of calm; just as it should be. No pedestrians have ever died on the Chelmer.
Twelve miles south is another river that is slightly wider but more dangerous than whitewater after a drought. Its tide rises at Gallows Corner and floods into the estuary at Southend. 10 pedestrians have died in the last 10 years. There are only five crossings along the 25 miles of destructive, polluting highway. The ‘killer river’ is the road known as the A127. A conveyor belt of steel that snarls and smashes through everything in its flow. There are no gaps in the stream of metal. And there are no plans to bridge it. I know, because I checked after trying to cross the A127 a few months ago, without success.
The highways agency apparently favours closing all the footpaths. A 13-year-old boy was killed there last month. The officials and politicians that sit on the committees at Essex County Council like to sit on their hands. These are the same people who have a legal duty to provide adequate and safe access to all rights of ways across the flooded A127. They should be ashamed. But they’re not. Because they don’t care. Because they feel safe. That is a shame.