It is time Braintree Council and the electorate stopped leader Graham Butland from leading us any further up the garden path.

I attended the full council meeting on Monday and was appalled by councillor Butland’s attitude and responses to points made about the garden communities proposals which the planning inspector had rejected.

Critical questions were asked by members of the public and some fellow councillors.

But the leader was clearly on the defensive - and attack is invariably his defence mechanism.

A few of the councillors who had originally supported the plans had obviously changed their minds in response to the inspector’s letters.

But the leader tried to fling their earlier support in their faces as if he thought that to change one’s mind in the face of new facts was hypocrisy.

He had no real answer to questions about the urgency of the need to address the five year housing supply issue.

He gave no answer to questions about the £4 million of taxpayers’ money already wasted on preparing the scheme other than to say half the amount had been granted by the Government.

I noted he neither claimed nor provided evidence the £4 million had been money well spent.

He seemed to have a naive belief landowners could be persuaded to sell their land for well below the market price to help him to provide the social and truly affordable housing for rent or purchase he claimed would be a major part of the development.

He claimed opponents of the scheme had not provided alternative proposals that would address the indubitable urgent need for new housing. That is not true. Look at the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex website.

The inspector outlined three options.

He was quite clear Option 1, removing the garden communities from the strategy for the time being, would allow each council to move forward quickly with its own plan.

This would enable the council to produce the vital five-year plan, thus helping to prevent speculative development applications from succeeding.

Yet on July 23, he announced he would proceed with Option 2, continuing with the garden communities approach, which would require the new fully researched and costed sustainability appraisal the inspector said was necessary.

Although the inspector states this could take two or three more years, the leader still tries to mislead his audiences into believing this could be achieved by the three authorities in a matter of months.

“Arrogant” and “hubristic” were two of the words I heard used to describe the council “misleader’s” performance.

By Ron Marks of Feering.