We have been speaking to as many voters as possible ahead of the local elections on May 6 and many issues have been raised as to how improvements could be made locally. 

But the top issue is the strong concern in many communities about overdevelopment.   

The inability of Braintree District Council to secure a Local Plan and the way in which communities had little say in the failed “garden communities” (new towns) project has not gone down well. 

Planning is important to ensure that the right amount and types of development deliver homes, jobs and services locally.  But in Braintree District that is largely not happening and planning seem to be something ‘done to communities’ and not ‘done with communities’. 

The consequences have been many – housing estates but with little or no on-site services, increased pressure on GP practices,  loss of countryside and green spaces and many more HGVs on local roads.

In addition, due to the policies of Essex County Council there is the prospect of one of the largest waste incinerators in the UK and a further expansion of the concentration of major quarries in the south of the district. 

Communities were promised by the leadership at both BDC and ECC that if development came it would protect the countryside and villages and would come with an uplift in services. That has not happened. 

The Green and Independent Group is the main opposition to the Conservatives at BDC and members have seats at Essex County Council, the only non-Conservative ECC councillors in Braintree District. 

We are committed to working at both BDC and ECC to secure a Local Plan that halts the tide of speculative development. We are also committed to working with local communities. The top-down approach that the current administrations have displayed on planning for many years must end. Consultation is not just a process, it needs to be meaningful.        

G&I Group county council candidates  - James Abbott (Witham Northern, Green); Jo Beavis (Halstead, Independent); Paul Thorogood (Braintree Eastern, Green); Colin Riches (Braintree Town, Independent); Philip Hughes (Witham Southern, Green);  Nick Unsworth (Bocking, Green); Michael Staines (Three Fields with Great Notley, Independent); Mark Posen (Hedingham, Green) c/o Waterfall Cottages , Rivenhall

n For a full list of candidates, click here.