PEOPLE power looks set to force council leaders to review a controversial decision to sell off much-loved playing fields to developers.

Residents living in Kent View Road, Vange, and the surrounding streets have collected more than 1,000 signatures for a petition protesting at plans by Basildon Council’s ruling Tory group to sell the fields near their homes.

Now the opposition Labour group has formally called for the decision to be reviewed by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

Joyce Backham, 75, who has lived in the area for 47 years, said: “This is really good news. The fields are used by children all the time and Vange United Football Club.

“There’s nowhere else nearby for the children to play outside. It’s terrible they want to build houses on it.”

Sam Carter, 35, of Paslowes which backs onto the playing field, added: “My three year-old daughter plays on the fields all the time.

“They’re used constantly by children, especially during the summer holidays.

“They can play there for free, which is important during these tough economic times.”

Local parents are also fuming as Kent View Pre School, which is based in a neighbouring community hall, is being forced to move as the building would be demolished as part of the sell-off.

The plan will now be looked at by a cross-party committee, which reviews controversial council decisions.

It could call on the council’s ruling cabinet to review the decision to sell-off the playing fields.

The council wants to sell off certain facilities to make money to fund building its Sporting Village.

Labour leader, Lynda Gordon, said: “There aren’t enough playing fields in Vange. These are used by lots of families and the council ought to take notice of public opinion.”

Tony Ball said: “We have made a decision to build a state- of-the-art sporting village and need to fund that by the sale of facilities across the district, which we have judged are not being particularly well used.

“The Labour group didn’t say anything when the Kent View Road site was earmarked for sale a year ago.

“We will involve residents in any future consultation for what happens to the site.”

Residents also hope to save the playing fields by applying to the Department for Environ-ment, Food and Rural Affairs to give it village green status, which would preserve it for generations to come.