COUNCIL bosses have rejected calls to limit the amount of taxpayers cash being spent on plans to build three new towns in north Essex.

The leading Conservative Party on Braintree Council voted down a motion to spend no more than £350,000 on the garden communities scheme in the next financial year during a meeting on Monday.

The motion had been put forward by the Green and Independent group which had stated further money should not be spent until the proposals are declared "sound" by a planning inspector, Roger Clews.

Mr Clews is expected to rule on the garden communities scheme, which is backed by Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils, later this year.

Speaking in Monday's meeting, Green leader James Abbott said: "We simply cannot risk further public money on a venture that could fail. Officers have made it clear it could fail.

"It's up to the inspector what happens next.

"£350,000 has been given to the North Essex Garden Communities project this financial year and unless I'm corrected, in part, it appears to have been spent on a fairly pointless engagement exercise. "That clearly cannot be the right way to spend public money, it's not a prudent thing to do given the risks and we think it should not be repeated."

Mr Abbott went on to add the Conservatives would have a lot to answer for if the garden communities plan was rejected.

It was also pointed out Colchester Council had refused to give the garden communities scheme £350,000 before Christmas because they were "wary" it could be thrown out.

But the Conservative councillors in Braintree defeated the motion after voting against it - meaning they will be able to spend more money on the garden communities scheme as and when they choose.

Deputy leader Tom Cunningham said: "While in principle this motion could be agreed to, there are concerns that it would bind the hands of this authority in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

"We feel this is unnecessary at this moment in time and will therefore vote against the emotion and urge others to do so."

If approved, the garden communities project will see 10,000 homes built to the west of Braintree, 24,000 at Marks Tey and a further 9,000 on the Colchester and Tendring border.