Council’s ruling Cabinet has agreed to spend £7.7m on new road works linking the A12 with Northern Gateway, without even producing a road plan or project description.

Cllr William Sunnucks, (Rural North Ward) Conservative spokesperson on Council resources, said that he was astounded that the Lib-Dem controlled Cabinet had agreed to spend £7.7m on a road development for which there was no plan or project appraisal.

It is difficult and risky for any Council to handle complex property schemes. The Council's Cabinet should not be acting as a commercial developer where it has no experience. The Council should be considering the sale this excellent site, letting a master developer remove the financial burden from the Council.

Cllr Paul Dundas, (Tiptree Ward) Conservative Group Leader, highlighted the challenging financial circumstances of the Northern Gateway project. The Council is  already encumbered with an additional £30 million of debt which it had anticipated would have been paid off by now.

The healthcare provider has lost interest in the site and proposals for a hospital have fallen through. The ground-source power supply project has collapsed due to lack of customers. There was no longer demand for the large-scale office space envisaged at the Northern Gateway. If a housing development were to be brought forward for more of the site it would generate less traffic and therefore the road works on the £7.7m scale may not be needed.

The Council should recognise that a project conceived in 2016 is no longer suitable in the changed circumstances of 2024 and that the Council did not have the skills or resources to deliver such a complex scheme.

It would be unwise for the Council to commit a further £7.7m capital funding on an ill-defined road scheme which might not be needed, and would expose the Council to potentially volatile market forces.

Conservatives pledge not to take these huge risks with tax-payers money.