MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on the leader of Braintree Council to resign.

The document, which has been set up by residents in the district, calls for Graham Butland to stand down after plans to build 34,000 homes to the east and west of Braintree were rejected by planning inspector Roger Clews.

The plan formed part of the garden community scheme which would have provided a clear housing plan in the Braintree district.

But with Mr Clews deeming the West of Braintree and West Tey settlements unsound, petitioners are now demanding Mr Butland resigns and “takes responsibility” for failing to provide a housing blueprint – known as the Local Plan.

The petition, which has gathered more than 1,200 signatures, states: “As leader of Braintree Council, as a member of the local plan sub-committee and as a director of North Essex Garden Communities, councillor Butland is responsible for decisions over several years which have led to the failed bid to build two of the three proposed garden communities.

“Councillor Butland ignored the views of thousands of Braintree residents who wrote to protest, and advice given in 2018 by the inspector.

“In the two years that this fiasco has continued, the district has been inundated with speculative building developments.

“Councillor Butland is responsible for making wrong strategic decisions and showing extremely poor leadership.

“We, the residents of Braintree district, have had enough of his mismanagement and demand that he resigns.

“We need someone who will engage with residents and represent the people who elected them into office.”

The garden communities are a joint venture put together by Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Essex County councils.

Mr Clews has ruled only the 9,000-home settlement to the east of Colchester can proceed if the West of Braintree and West Tey plans are scrapped.

Braintree Council is expected to follow Mr Clews’ advice providing councillors approve all of his suggested modifications. It will likely mean the authority needs to find space for a further 500 to 1,000 new homes before it can secure a local plan up to 2033.

Mr Butland has confirmed the petition will be discussed at a future council meeting if it is approved by the monitoring officer.

He has also refuted claims £8 million in taxpayers’ money has been spent on the project.

He says around £950,000 has been allocated by each of the four councils, while the Government has provided £3.7 million.