Councillors fear elderly residents living in sheltered housing complexes will lose security gates because the council is reluctant to pay for repairs.

Labour councillors say they were briefed by the council on plans to remove the electronic gates after it was found repairs or replacements would be too costly.

But the councillors say removing the gates will put some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents at risk.

Councillor Victoria Holloway, whose residents are affected by the proposals at Rookery Court, West Thurrock, said: “I’m truly appalled that the Tories would even think about removing security from our older people, let alone taking proposals forward.

“Crime and anti-social behaviour is still a real issue in Thurrock.

“It causes residents a great deal of anxiety and these gates prevent some of these worries.

“This is absolutely unacceptable and I’ve said clearly that gates should be repaired and maintained.”

It is understood that the change will impact Benyons Court and Helford in South Ockendon, Alexandra Hall in Tilbury, Rookery Court in West Thurrock, and the Sycamores and New Maltings in Aveley.

Labour Councillor Lynn Worrall, of the Grays ward, said: “The mere suggestion this should happen is out of order. We are responsible for protecting older people not removing their security.

“We have raised concerns about the management of the council finances and the fact this is happening due to a lack of money is extremely worrying.

“Security of our older residents should be an absolute priority and I am calling on the Tories running Thurrock Council to scrap these plans before they go any further.”

Claims that the council needs to remove the gates due to finances appears to contrast recent claims made by Conservative councillors who have defended their controversial strategy of borrowing more than £1billion in short term loans to invest.

Conservative councillor Shane Hebb claimed at the end of July that borrowing has earned the council £32million in extra income each year, allowing the administration to “go above and beyond” to commit extra funding to help “tackling anti-social behaviour and improving our local environment”.

Thurrock Council did not confirm confirm the cost of the repairing the existing gate but said they are in consultation with councillors.

A spokesman said: "Thurrock Council has conducted a survey of all electronic powered gates across the council housing sites in the borough following a change in the compliance regime.

"Engagement with local ward councillors has started and will be followed by consultation with residents on a site-by-site basis on proposals to remove/repair or replace gates as appropriate."