Phil Barlow, Labour councillor for Witham North, was quoted extensively in the Times on April 25 in the row about not attending the local election hustings as saying: “We have lived for many years with the district council tacking new housing on to the edges of our towns and villages without the necessary infrastructure being provided.”

Why then did David Mann, as the leader of the Labour opposition, second the Conservative motion that approved the 325-house Bovis scheme on farm land on the edge of Coggeshall?

Anglian Water and the Environment Agency have pointed out the lack of additional sewerage capacity and the doctor’s surgery is unable to accept new patients.

This scheme is not an allocated site; it was opposed by more than 150 residents and by Coggeshall Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Plan group.

The Conservatives and Labour parties together account for 36 of 49 seats on Braintree Council but they could not spare the time to attend the local election hustings organised by the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex last month where me and Nick Unsworth as Independent candidates and two members of the Green Party answered questions from residents.

Nonetheless Lynette Bowers-Flint and Malcolm Dunn did have time to distribute an election final headlined “Beware – the Independent Councillors’ Tax Bombshell!”

This misleadingly implied we were somehow responsible for the band allocation of houses in Coggeshall. These are, in fact, set by central government and collected by Braintree Council which is, of course, Conservative controlled. Nick and myself have no responsibility for Band D house prices in Coggeshall!

Coggeshall Parish Council has not in fact increased its share of council tax (2.4 per cent compared to Braintree Council's 10.2 per cent) for five years and only recently increased it by some 8p per week for Band D properties primarily to offset the reduction from Braintree Council.

Tom Walsh

Independent councillor for Coggeshall, Bradwell and Stisted on Braintree Council