AN independent councillor has joined the coalition group on Braintree Council.

Joanne Beavis, who represents the Hedingham Ward, has teamed up with the Green Party and two Coggeshall independents who are the main opposition to the Conservatives at Causeway House.

It means the coalition, which is lead by Green councillor James Abbott, now has nine councillors compared to the Tory’s 34.

Ms Beavis was re-elected Hedingham councillor at the local elections in May, just months after she left the Conservatives.

She said: “I am pleased to join the Green and Independent Group. We are a group of like-minded new and experienced councillors with more in common than not.

“We have a shared view that this is one of the most important periods in the history of Braintree District Council due to the emerging Local Plan.

“Neighbourhood plans have a key role in rebuilding community faith in the planning system. Robust questions and new ideas are required to ensure the provision of affordable homes, local employment and community infrastructure are provided along with the protection and improvement of vital local services.

“I am convinced that the new Green and Independent Group on Braintree Council has the experience, knowledge and determination to provide alternative plans and ideas for the future good of our residents, communities and district.”

The coalition party says it does not have a whip system, meaning councillors are free to vote on proposals put forward as they want.

It also says it will listen to residents to help determine its policies and how it votes on contentious issues.

Leader James Abbott says the addition of Mrs Beavis will help bolster the Greens and Independents who are keen to put forward some of their own proposals during council meetings.

He added: “We are very pleased that Jo Beavis has decided to join us. Jo is a very experienced councillor, a previous cabinet member and a very community-minded representative.

“The strengthening of the Green and Independent Group is important as there are so many issues that we wish to press at the council, including the need to get a good Local Plan as soon as possible, protecting the countryside, supporting local communities and ensuring that local services such as village libraries are not lost.

“We look forward to the next four years of working as a constructive but effective and serious opposition to the Tories.”