A RESIDENTS’ association is being shut down to make way for a nursery.
Members of Five Links Residents’ Association have vowed to take legal action against Basildon Council after being told to leave the centre in Somercotes, Laindon, by next Monday.
The council sent a letter via recorded delivery on Tuesday.
John James, the association’s chairman, received it on Thursday, just ten days before the eviction.
The building is set to be used by Busy Bees pre-school, which lost its home next to Bluehouse Farm Community Centre, in Laindon Link, after a suspected arson attack in February.
It will eventually be converted to a shop or other business when the nursery finds a new home.
Mr James, 75, said: “If they get us out, that is it, we’re gone. You can’t run without legs.
“There is nowhere else on the estate for us to go and residents won’t use a centre that isn’t on Five Links.
“We’re the first port of call for them when they have any problems.
We just want to make a difference in our community.
“We know Busy Bees didn’t ask to be burnt down and we were even thinking about whether we could help, but there has been no discussion about how we could work around each other.”
In its letter to Mr James, the Tory council says the association is being asked to leave under clause 9 of its lease agreement, which relates to structural damage to the building.
Nigel Smith, leader of the opposition Labour party, has called for an urgent suspension of eviction action while the group seeks legal advice.
He said: “This is a really important, crucial community facility. The council has shown a lack of respect to the residents of Five Links.
“The people on this estate have suffered a hell of a lot, and just as we believed things were finally improving, this has happened.”
Mark Ellis, Ukip county councillor for Laindon Park, said: “It seems like they’re being persecuted by their own council for no reason.”
Five Links Residents’ Association was set up in 2009 and moved into the building in October 2011 after a £20,000 grant from waste management firmVeolia.
Members have repaired and renovated the former shop, putting down new carpets, installing a burglar alarm, and fitting new locks.
Basildon Council says the facility is underused and has promised to help the residents’ association find alternative premises.
Shivani Harrison, the association’s treasurer, said: “We feel unsupported by the council, which only hinders our efforts to involve the community and build community spirit.”