A SOUTHEND residents’ association could quadruple in size to reach 5,000 members.

Burges Estate Residents’ Association, which already covers more than 1,000 households based around the Burges Estate in Thorpe Bay, wants to quadruple its size by 2014.

It has targeted expansion into Southchurch and West Shoebury wards over the next three years.

Chairman Ron Woodley, who also serves as an Independent councillor for Thorpe ward, said collective action was the only way to hold Tory leaders at Southend Council to account.

He added: “We have been looking at expansion for some time, and now is the right time to do it.

“With the Government wanting power to be more local, we want to be in a position where we can take advantage of that.

“It is all about giving people a voice.”

The association, which is run by a committee of four people, has grown steadily since it was founded in 1990.

Members pay £5 a year in return for advice on legal, planning and other council matters.

The association has fought numerous causes on behalf of its residents, including an ongoing battle to rid the Burges Estate of covenants which restrict the changes people are allowed to make to their homes.

Mr Woodley said the association would initially expand northwards to Shoebury Road, in Southchurch, and westwards to accommodate another 600 homes on the Burges Estate which fall within West Shoebury ward.

Although there are no official league tables, the growth would give the association a claim to being the largest of its type in the UK.

However, Tory councillors in West Shoebury have accused Mr Woodley of using the association to garner votes for Independent candidates.

Tony Cox, who also sits on the council’s ruling cabinet, said: “Many Thorpe ward residents have held the belief for some time the association is the fundraising and campaigning arm of the Independent group.”

But Mr Woodley said the association had no political affiliations.

He added: “We have Independent and Conservative members. That is not what it is about. It is about getting things done for local people and making sure the council hears their views.”