The ruling Conservatives’ policy on the three new towns, so-called garden communities, comes from a parallel universe.

Hardly a surprise with their idea of trackless trams somehow scooting through the narrow medieval streets of villages like Coggeshall.

As the only member of Braintree Council’s Local Plan committee to seriously question and to vote against key parts of this flawed policy, I firmly challenge Councillor Gabrielle Spray when she says “I strongly refute Braintree Council has rushed this process or tried to avoid any debate on this matter” (Letters, August 15).

I feel the debate has indeed been rushed.

Having been elected with Nick Unsworth as Independents from Coggeshall ward, on May 2 I wondered why there were no substantive meetings of the council or on the Local Plan for more than two months.

Then suddenly the four meetings of the Local Plan committee and the full council are scheduled in three weeks from July 11 to August 1.

I wrote to Cllr Spray to ask for them to be at a more measured pace: I was told the council doesn’t recognise any holiday season. Regular people with jobs and kids do.

As a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute for 28 years I am used to dealing with reports.

But just for the Local Plan meetings there were nine technical reports with that on sustainability running to 60 pages.

The LUC consultants’ report clocked in at a mere 143 pages. I don’t even count the agenda papers for the July 18 meeting: another 44 pages.

How many councillors, community groups, let alone interested members of the public, can truly say all of this was absorbed so proper scrutiny could occur on decisions likely to affect our communities for decades to come?

Cllr Spray’s letter and Braintree Council’s press release make strong claims about how these decisions are fully supported by Colchester and Tendring Councils.

Strange then that both omit to inform us that in fact Colchester’s Local Plan committee was only able to get the policy through by a single vote and that required the casting vote of the chairman.

As to Cllr Spray refuting avoiding any debate, I have been fobbed off with procedural niceties when I asked why Braintree Council refused the invitation from Colchester for joint meetings of members from the three councils.

I have the official invitation from Colchester Council, which invited councillors from Braintree and Tendring to two meetings, in fact, at Colchester’s Community Stadium on June 24 and again on July 3.

My question therefore is, is the majority party on Braintree Council unable or merely just unwilling to discuss this crucial policy with other councillors, although the scheme can only proceed with financial, legal and planning agreements from all three?

If I am wrong, then I imagine Braintree Council will be happy to attend or convene a meeting for members during the current public consultation period?

If this is also declined many will conclude that not only is the process indeed rushed but arguably, we are all being bamboozled by dense reports during the holiday season while being denied any chance of debate with the council’s chosen partners.

Tom Walsh

Independent councillor for Coggeshall, Bradwell and Pattiswick