CAMPAIGNING residents have been left with a £40,000 bill after Basildon Council won an appeal to rename roads on a housing estate.

A decision on renaming the roads on the Five Links estate in Laindon will be referred back to a district judge after the High Court upheld a council legal challenge.

Residents, who fiercely oppose the plans, were dealt a further blow when the judge ruled they must pick up the entire cost of the legal process so far.

John James, chairman of the Five Links Residents Association, is the named defendant in the court documents.

He said: “I simply can’t afford £40,000 and we have found a lot of things in the judgement which are arguable.”

Tory councillors want to rename roads, including Somercotes and Newberry Side, to fit in with a floral theme chosen by schoolchildren.

They believe emergency services struggle to find their way around the estate, previously nicknamed Alcatraz for its fortress-like appearance, because of the current numbering system.

Basildon Council, which hired a £7,800 per day lawyer for the High Court hearing, has successfully argued the legal basis for the original April ruling, in favour of the residents, was incorrect.

The case will now be referred back to the same district judge at Basildon Magistrates’ Court, who will reconsider.

Frank Ferguson, Ukip councillor for Lee Chapel North, has helped fund the legal case on behalf of residents.

He said: “The total bill which has been run up so far is over £40,000 and as I understand it the new case will not be able to review it.

“We didn’t realise they could reverse the lower court’s decision on costs - we had expected the High Court to allow the costs to lie where they fall, which would have left us looking at about £7,000.

“It now means the original judge will be the one who makes the final decision, but of course it could go either way.

“The whole thing is now getting totally ridiculous.”

Terri Sargent, councillor responsible for environment and community, pursued the renaming scheme despite a motion calling for it to be scrapped being passed at a full council meeting last year.

Mrs Sargent said: “This is an historic decision which clarifies an important point of law for the council and other local authorities.

“The council believes this decision will benefit the residents of the borough and future essential regeneration projects.”

High Court Judge Mr Justice Garnham has set out terms for the new magistrates’ court hearing.


THE leader of Basildon Council says he is “flabbergasted” by the size of the legal bill handed down to Five Links residents.

Tory councillor Phil Turner claims the High Court legal challenge was necessary, but that he takes no pleasure in the verdict.

Mr Turner said: “The renaming is something we thought we had to do for very good reasons.

“It has not been done out of spite, but the residents challenged it and they had every right to do so.

“But the level of costs took my breath away because I couldn’t imagine it was going to be that high.

“It seems an extreme amount for a few residents to shoulder the burden.

“I am sympathetic to their situation and this gives me no pleasure.”

Mr Turner said he was uncertain if the council would be able to contribute to the costs because of the precedent it might set.

He added: “I think it is difficult because, if we pay once, it leaves us open for challenges again and again.

“That would be for the chief executive to decide, but I have asked the question and that will be reviewed.

“But I am just flabbergasted by the costs.”