ANGRY campaigners demanded that Braintree Council sorts out its Local Plan at a meeting branded “a joke”.

Several residents spoke on behalf of action groups to demand an end to speculative housing applications at Monday’s full council meeting.

Tim Kane, of Monkswood Action Committee, said: “What a mess. The obsession with garden towns has has created what we call the Monkswood Monster.

“The scene of this scary story is the Pattiswick estate. The scary thing is the promoter could at any time decide to take a chance with another planning application.”

However, the aftermath of the meeting has focused on claims some councillors patronised residents and that campaigner Tom Walsh was barred from speaking.

After the meeting, Rosie Pearson, of the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex, said: “We had a scenario where a member of the public was reprimanded for passing a note to a councillor to say that their question had not been answered.

“They wouldn’t let Tom Walsh speak so I agreed to share my slot with him but they wouldn’t allow him to read it himself so I read his statement on his behalf.

“It was a joke, to be quite frank.

“The councillors are there to represent local people but the public were just patronised.”

Mr Walsh was left frustrated after not being allowed to ask a question despite applying to do so last Thursday morning.

He said the request was made inside the council’s time limit.

Silver End councillor James Abbott said: “It’s ridiculous. There were two speakers who requested to speak and when you have a meeting lasting such a long time I don’t see why six minutes would make such a difference.

“The council says it’s open and welcoming but then you have this situation where you have to apply to speak at a Monday meeting on the previous Wednesday.

“I know people will say every council has its own conditions but it’s something which I’ll be raising, perhaps we can look at a Friday deadline.”

In another flashpoint at the meeting, council leader Graham Butland said: “While I’m very happy to debate the principles of what we’re talking about, I am getting a little weary of being accused of taking brown envelopes, having my house decorated and all of these have been appearing on websites and Facebook pages, some of which have been operated by members in this room at the moment.”

A Braintree Council spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure local communities are engaged in the local plan process.

“We have a strong record of Local Plan engagement having given the public many opportunities to speak in front of councillors, give views during consultation events and to provide views and feedback through our formal consultation process.

“At Monday’s meeting we had four speakers who had all registered to speak before the deadline which is clearly stated on the front of all agendas.”