Growing concern after 11 deaths

'THIS IS it, Death Avenue,' Tracey Seymour said as she turned her car into Denny Avenue. She reeled off names of residents who have died or been victims of cancer in the past 10 years.

'Number 25, that was Denis Hale's dad; 44, Wendy Williams, she had a skin cancer and her baby died of a neck tumour. Tommy Footman at number 51, he died of lung cancer. Doreen Heady at number 45, she died of a brain tumour . . . '

She draws up at Number 33, where in December 1991 Michael Stedman died of a brain cancer. Inside, Kay Stedman described how her son, a dance champion, fought a vain nine-year battle against the disease.

The residents of Denny Avenue have gathered together anecdotal evidence of 11 cancer deaths - two of them from brain tumours. Two other residents have survived similar cancers.

The avenue, a winding row of pre-war council homes in Waltham Abbey, Essex, backs on to a factory which for decades has produced a range of pesticides.

For many years, the avenue's residents say they have put up with coloured dusts, emissions and revolting smells from PBI, the Japanese-owned factory. It was part of life in Denny Avenue and provided much-needed jobs.

What made the community start to wonder if there was a link between the factory, its emissions and this cluster of cancers - regarded by a leading epidemiologist as 'statistically significant' - was when a chemical leakage from the factory last May caused many to complain of nausea.

Mrs Stedman said: 'We started wondering if the numbers of deaths in our road was far too many for coincidence. We are not saying that it is. But we want a public inquiry to find out.'