CONVICTED criminals are to be brought in to help clean up a Basildon estate.

The crooks, who are trying to mend their ways, will do gardening, litter picks and general cleaning on the Long Riding estate, after residents raised complaints about the state of the area.

The problems were highlighted this week when officers from Basildon Council joined residents, councillors and resident representatives for the first of 14 walkabouts planned for roads and estates across the St Martin’s ward.

Residents pointed out neglected areas and problems which were noted down by officers for action to be taken.

Among the findings were weeds and brambles found creeping up over pavements and fences in the area.

Damaged traffic bollards were noticed, suggesting people have ripped them up so they can park cars on the grass, while council homes had rubbish, such as tyres and carpets, dumped in overgrown front gardens.

The findings mean crooks signed up with the Community Payback scheme will be drafted in to improve the area.

Arthur Charlton, chairman of St Martin’s community panel, said: “This walkabout is a good idea, provided things that are raised are acted upon.

“There are some people who really look after their homes in this road. So for them it is a shame this road has fallen into such a bad way.

“Things like this really do affect people’s quality of life.”

A 57-year-old woman, who only wanted to be known as Sandra, and who has lived in Long Riding for 31 years, said: “I’ve never seen it look so bad as it does now. But it shouldn’t have been allowed to get to this with overgrown weeds, rubbish and bad parking everywhere.

“I pay my taxes and I want to see this area cleared up.”

Jenny Beak, estate officer at Basildon Council, said: “We’d like to thank the residents who came along to the walkabout and to those who stopped to talk to us.

“It’s important we hear first hand the views of residents so that we can work with them in addressing issues.”

The walkabout forms part of a 12-month-long Community Safety Action Zone, taking part in the St Martin’s ward.