The Green and Independent Party are set to propose changes to the council budget ahead of tonight's meeting.

Braintree District Council will meet later (February 22) for its annual budget-setting meeting.

All groups on the council agree that it would be sensible this year to support a 0 per cent council tax change due to the financial difficulties that many have faced as a result of the pandemic.

But the Green & Independent Group will also be proposing two amendments to the Budget.

- Firstly, a one-off sum of 400,000 pounds to the Braintree Local Highways Panel to help fund the backlog of schemes which include local highway safety projects, lower speed limits, improved footways, and safer road crossings.

- Secondly, an increase of 250,000 pounds to the Climate Change fund specifically to establish new Community Woodlands in the district.

Leader James Abbott said: “We have always supported the policy of the BDC administration that the New Homes Bonus fund (NHB) should be used for capital investment and there is currently 1.74 million pounds in the fund.

"The G&I Group is proposing that we use 650,000 pounds of NHB money for investment in 2021/22 in sustainable projects, in addition to the 500,000 pounds already allocated for Climate Change measures, which we also support.

"The Braintree Local Highways Panel has built up a backlog of local safety schemes and access improvements which at current rates of funding will take many years to fund.

"Our proposal of 250,000 pounds for new Community Woodlands will allow the district to plan for substantial levels of new tree planting, something that councillors have already voted to support in principle.

"We envisage that these new woodlands would be developed in cooperation with local communities, drawing on the commitment of volunteers for tree planting and the great enthusiasm that now exists for improving biodiversity.

"These would be public access woodlands, giving people more opportunities to exercise outdoors and enjoy nature, something that has proved to be so important through the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic."