FEARFUL residents called an emergency meeting to air their escalating fears about a new asbestos removal company which has arrived in town.

More than 250 residents attended, with many worried contamination from the firm, run by T and S Multiservices, in Bentons Farm House, Mollands Lane, South Ockendon.

People are demanding more information, reassurances and "air tests".

In a highly charged meeting, residents' association chairman Derek Duke said: "Many of us will have family or friends who have died from asbestos related illness.

"For an asbestos company to move near to an area full of children and families, without any warning, is unacceptable.

"We believe it is flouting planning regulations and should not be running its form of business from residential premises."

Abdool Soobratty, 57, who lives opposite the centre, has monitored activity at the new firm.

He said: "There are vans and lorries arriving from 5am until late at night. This was a quiet street."

The association's deputy chairman, John Stannard, has criticised the lack of communication.

He said: "If the company had spoken to residents and outlined its plans I think we may have all been reassured.

"But since the day it moved in we have been met with indifference."

Ockendon councillor Amanda Arnold said: "I have three children living less than three hundred metres from the premises. I will do my utmost to find out what is happening there."

However, Thurrock council spokesman Luke Walsh said environmental health officers had visited the premises ten times, and on no occassion was noise nuisance registered.

He said: "We are also satisfied the company do not store hazardous materials, such as asbestos, on site or in its vans.

"It is disposed of outside the borough.

Therefore, no air tests are required."

T and S Multiservices declined to comment.