Attending his first meeting of Gosfield Parish Council as the new Conservative county councillor for the Halstead Division, Chris Siddall made a revealing statement:

“We have a new leader at Essex County Council in Councillor Kevin Bentley and his focus will be on three themes: renewal, equality and ambition.

“We will have unitary devolution within two years. It would mean that Essex County Council and Braintree District Council would be abolished in favour of a new unitary council. Councillor Graham Butland has been given the Essex County Council Cabinet responsibility which includes devolution.”

It appears this could be the new obsession of the local Conservative leadership following the failure of their previous obsession: the Garden Communities project. That cost the taxpayers of the Braintree District over £1million and across Essex much more. 

It was left in tatters when Government inspectors threw out all the Uttlesford Garden Communities and only allowed one of the three North Essex Garden Communities. 

The Conservatives will claim that their plan for a major reorganisation of local government in Essex will devolve powers.  It will not – and again it will cost taxpayers. 

It would move power away from local people and communities into the hands of a large dominant national party and centralise control via a small number of large unitary authorities.

At the local elections in May I stood as an Independent candidate on the issues that matter most to residents: highway safety and improvements; well planned sustainable housing; better local NHS services; a greener environment; more local jobs and a stronger voice for local people. 

I am grateful for the 1,835 votes cast for me, which was a 38 per cent vote share. I would like to assure those who voted for me and those that might in the future that my commitment to local priorities remains as strong as before and I look forward to continuing to work with local people, communities and businesses in the years ahead.

Jo Beavis
Halstead Division Independent candidate
Independent District Councillor for the Hedinghams