COLCHESTER Council has been branded “rotten, incompetent and spineless” for blocking an out-of-town shopping and leisure development.
The council’s planning committee rejected the Tollgate Village application, for shops, restaurants and a cinema on 20 acres of land in Stawnay Tollgate.
Priti Patel, MP for Witham, which includes Stanway, accused the council of disregarding the views of residents.
She said: “This rotten, incompetent and spineless council wants to put its own narrow self-interests first and destroy any prospect of major retail and leisure facilities being developed elsewhere in the borough.
“Residents in Colchester borough deserve better and a change of leadership is urgently needed to turn around this inept and failing council.
“I have always said it is possible for there to be a strong and prosperous town centre along with the Tollgate Village development and it is disappointing that Colchester Council lacks the long term vision to deliver this.
“Most councils would be welcoming private investment and developments like Tollgate Village and it is only Colchester that would turn down an opportunity like this.
“Residents strongly support the Tollgate Village and will be outraged by the council’s decision to block the creation of hundreds of new jobs and bring in desperately needed facilities.
“Planning committee members have been leaned on and pressured by outrageous claims and scaremongering by the council.”
Leander Swift, of Gosbecks Road, Colchester, has set up a Facebook page in favour of the development, called Tollgate Plans for Retail and Leisure.
The page has alrady gained 776 supporters.
Mrs Swift, 38, a mum-of-two, said: “Everyone is saying it’s all a big fix. I’m speechless.
“I really feel like getting a big placard and standing up by the old Sainsbury’s saying no more homes unless they give us choice of restaurants and leisure.
“They are going to push us out altogether.
“Even if the coucnil’s Northern Gateway development goes ahead, we will continue to go to Braintree because everything’s there in one place.”
A COUNCILLOR who withdrew from the planning committee after she was pictured at the opening of new Tollgate Partership offices is frustrated her vote of support could not be cast.
Jackie Maclean, councillor for Copford and West Stanway, was advised to stand down from the planning meeting after the council said she might have a personal interest in the application.
She said: “I was upset because I’m passionate about getting everything going in Stanway.
“I wanted to take part because I felt it was so important for Stanway.
“What really annoyed me was it was a wasted exercise.
“You can never be premature in business - you either go for it or you let everyone else in.
“Stanway has taken how many thousands of homes and we have had nothing put back.
“We got one chance of having something which all residents wanted but it’s all be disregarded.”