Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Five Links Action Group (NT 01)

  With my family we came to live on the estate in August, 1973, my home was nearly one year old but we were lucky we got a mutual exchange to move from Dagenham.

  This was a place everyone wanted to come to, in it's design it was modern, pedestrian walkways only so no traffic was allowed, laid out in courtyard fashion which were all landscaped, and family friendly, children could play outside their front doors, parents knew where they were it made for an excellent community feeling.

  There were gardeners, regular cleaning teams, including drains. It then was controlled by the CNT.

  For the first ten years things were great, then the word was we were to change land lords, it did not make much of a change, then gradually, the upkeep started to deteriorate, through lack of money the cleaning facilities started to disappear, maintenance of the estate became minimal, the whole area started to slowly look like a slum, broken walls, unrepaired foot paths, broken slabs in courtyards, green slime started to cover areas which were not being cleaned, broken drain pipes, also drains, green moss growing in the decorative cobble stones, also weeds, through lack of spraying and sweepers, then there was the dumping of unwanted rubbish and illegal fly tipping, no matter how much residents complained nothing seemed to get done to rectify this situation, even though residents attended their local JEMS meetings.

  Trees that had been planted all around the estate, even in the courtyards, through lack of coppicing just grew out of order, this started to cause damage to properties, walls, damage to foot paths and safety roads, because of root growth, subsidence became inevitable, once again lack of maintenance.

  After about 15 years of neglect, and being fed up not being listened to, residents decided to get together to form a group to try and get the local council, to wake up to their responsibilities, towards the residents complaints this was in May 1997.

  First it was decided we would try and get our council tax lowered, as we were not getting anything for the money we have to pay, residents filled in relevant forms, we also attended the hearing at Chelmsford, the officers also came to my home and we took them on walkabout of the estate to show them the filth and slum conditions, but it was only a few who could prove they had subsidence that were lowered, but we were not going to be put off, we attended council meetings and held up our complaints on banners as we were not allowed to talk. Local newspapers wrote the story also they came and took photos, we called an open meeting of all residents, invited members of the council but only two office workers came, since then we have asked time and time again for them to meet with residents, but they will not. The estate was known by the name Alcatraz, because the east end of it was built of all concrete, it was designed in flats with underground garages, this became a rogues paradise, it was used by homeless sleeping rough, car thieves for stripping cars and then burning them, no one with any sense would go any where near them, it was a nightmare for any resident who was unfortunate to live there, always being burgled, even the police would not attend or go down there.

Mrs P E Denne


  In 1994, residents were invited to an open consultation at Basildon centre, to look at plans for a future rebuild of the estate, of course we all thought at last something was going to happen to bring improvements to our lives, how wrong could we be. The bottom end was demolished and 270 new homes were built. This was finished in 1998, since then nothing, and still the estate falls further into dereliction, raw sewerage is a problem coming up into properties which causes untold miseries to residents, we were told that there had been an underground survey carried out with the use of CCTV cameras, to find out the damage to pipe work, also that major works were carried out to put things right. We ask where, if this had happened residents would not be having to suffer, also surely we would have seen courtyards being dug up and large piping laying around, we are still asking for the proof.

  For a great many years we have been under the delusion that Five Links estate was going to be demolished, and hopefully built again like the east end. Now we find out yes there is to be a rebuild, but only on the outer perimeter, they are going to demolish over 160 homes, flats, garages, to rebuild another 270 houses in street pattern, they are going to put a main road around our central green, also communal car parking. This is causing great distress to residents who are to lose their garages also the security of their cars, there is no resident that will benefit from the new homes, as those who are losing their present homes have already been moved on and do not wish to return to live on Five Links, as it has now become the councils dumping ground for nuisance tenants, single mums, drug addicts, car thieves, burglars, rapists, flashers, muggers, graffiti artists and other criminal damages. Residents do not walk this area after dark, taxis will not come here, doctors do not even come out if possible without escort, there is no real policing and when residents do call them they get told they are busy elsewhere.

  We have SRB money which is running several projects, but these only involve school children, nothing what so ever has been done to enhance the lives of residents who are now pensioners and have lived on this estate since it was built. Tenants have had nothing done to update their homes, no rewiring, even though there has been several homes on fire through electrical faults, no modern kitchen, they still have old windows with illegal glass in, rotten window frames and doors that do not shut properly, no proper security locks, so you only have to push hard to gain entrance and black mildew through the dampness.

  Up to this year no one wanting to move could do so, as our homes were not worth more than £19,000 there were lots of repossessions which were bought as a business and turned into multi tenancies for those on DHSS, also causing great nuisance to other residents, but this council still chooses to ignore residents complaints, saying there is nothing they can do which we know is wrong.

  We have been told that to change Five Links estate and to put right the severe sewerage problems, would be to demolish and rebuild, it would also get rid of the name it has now Great Beirut and Alcatraz.

  We hope you will understand the feelings of all residents about the way we have to live from day to day, also that visitors do not come to stay too long as they do not know if their cars will still be in car parks when they go to leave and definitely come after dark. We would like to see a better future, but it does not appear as though this will be possible.

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Prepared 16 April 2002