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Commonwealth Row? Council confirm unpopular plans to rename estate for Queen's milestone

PUBLISHED: 16:47 16 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:16 17 June 2015

Sheila Clements, pictured with her letter

Sheila Clements, pictured with her letter

Archant

Costly plans to celebrate the Queen becoming the longest-reigning monarch by renaming an estate could go ahead despite widespread outrage - including one woman writing to Her Majesty herself.

Results of the Recorder's poll show most people were against the plansResults of the Recorder's poll show most people were against the plans

Residents of Collier Row’s Highfield Road Estate received letters last week confirming the council wants to push through “quirky” plans to rename blocks after Commonwealth Countries in time for the September 9 anniversary.

The £130,000 proposals, part of a £1.85m redevelopment, were condemned as “crass” and a “complete waste of taxpayers money” when announced in January amid huge cuts to libraries and youth service.

Deputy leader Cllr Damian White said the money could not be spent elsewhere but opposition leaders called in the plans and one “fuming” woman even wrote to the Queen.

Sheila Clements, of Dawes Avenue Hornchurch, received a response from Buckingham Palace saying the matter had been passed on to the appropriate secretary of state.

Sheila received this letter from Buckingham PalaceSheila received this letter from Buckingham Palace

“We are supposed to be in austerity measures,” she said. “I’ve got no issue with the work, just the renaming - it’s a vanity project.”

The redevelopment involves redecorating blocks, repairing balconies and improving landscapes. The £130,000 will be spent on “signage” and “administration”. Name ideas are imminent.

The council has asked for residents’ views on having to change addresses with the DVLA, bank, doctors and insurers. They will then consult with fire and police.

A Recorder poll showed 63 per cent of readers were against the idea, with just 13pc for it.

"Our driving license will need to be changed, so will information at the doctors, dentists and bank.
But it’s not a complete waste of time because we’ll have shiny plaques. What on earth is going on in this borough?"

Estate resident Raymond Bryant

Estate resident Raymond Bryant said: “Our driving licence will need to be changed, so will information at the doctors, dentists and bank.

“But it’s not a complete waste of time because we’ll have shiny plaques. What on earth is going on in this borough?”

Residents’ Association’s Cllr Ray Morgon, one of two leaders to call in the decision, said it was a “huge cost just to rename something” while Ukip’s Cllr Lawrence Webb, the other, added: “What a waste of money. Why isn’t it being spent on another estate?”

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, a staunch royalist known for his support of Commonwealth relations, said it was “magnificent” and called the Queen’s milestone the “most historic event in the history of the British monarchy”.

She doesn’t appear to agree, though, and reportedly wants “no fuss” made about the event.

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