THE future of Braintree Council’s leader is set to go under the microscope when a petition calling for his resignation is formally debated.

Petition organiser Rosie Pearson is set to present the document to councillors during a meeting on Monday.

It calls for senior Conservative Graham Butland, who represents Great Notley and Black Notley, to step down as leader following the ruling on the garden communities scheme.

Two of three garden communities – which would have seen 34,000 homes built either side of Braintree – were deemed undeliverable by planning inspector Roger Clews.

The petition says Mr Butland should “take responsibility for making wrong strategic decisions” in relation to the plans and showing “extremely poor leadership”.

Campaigners also claim the garden communities project has “wasted” nearly £8million of taxpayers’ cash.

The garden communities were also supported by Colchester and Tendring councils and County Hall.

After debating the petition, councillors will have to choose whether to take no further action, refer the matter to cabinet or find another solution.

Details about the petition are outlined in a report published ahead of next week’s meeting.

More than 1,000 people who have signed the petition live outside the Braintree district, meaning only 571 of the signatories are residents.

Despite not meeting the councils’ criteria for debate, bosses have agreed for the document to be presented to the council.

The report adds: “This review identified significant signatories from outside the UK including Nigeria, India, North Carolina, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Cape Town.

“It also identified many of the signatures did not meet the criteria set out above and fell outside the district. Examples include, London, Glasgow, Poole, York, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff.

“The petition scheme requires a petition to have a total of 1,000 valid signatures before it is presented to full council for consideration and debate. The current petition therefore does not meet this threshold.

“However, in light of the nature of the petition and its reference to the Local Plan and North Essex Garden Communities Ltd, which have historically generated widespread interest, the council have agreed that this petition should still proceed to full council for consideration and debate.”

Mr Butland became council leader in 2004. Chairman of Braintree Conservatives, John McKee, said Mr Butland had the full backing of the party when the petition was launched.