Councillors were threatened after meeting - claim

POLICE have launched an investigation following chaotic scenes at the end of a council meeting about a controversial travellers’ site application.

Tendring district councillors met on Tuesday night to vote on plans for a site at Crockleford Heath, near Ardleigh.

It was the third time proposals had been put forward following refusals for a 12-pitch plan as well as another application for four caravans.

Officers at TDC had recommended the latest scheme for planning permission for one caravan be given the green-light saying planning regulations meant “different considerations” had to be applied to gypsy and traveller proposals.

However the applicant - William Banks - was said to be furious after it was rejected and is alleged to have verbally abused two members of the committee as they tried to leave the car park at Weeley.

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When Sarah Candy, the councillor who moved for the application to be rejected, drove away she claims Mr Banks “yelled at her”.

She called 999 and although no arrests have been made, police have taken witness statements and are now considering whether further action will be taken.

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Tony Fawcett, who seconded the refusal, claimed he was also threatened.

Mrs Candy said: “It was unfortunate that some heated up emotions ruined a meeting that had been calm throughout at all times – both sides had been calm.”

Mr Banks was unavailable for comment last night but speaking before the application was decided, his wife, Jo, voiced fears that politics would decide the outcome rather than planning regulations.

She said: “We want a fair decision that respects the law and professional opinion, and feel that will only come outside this forum because politics is shaping the outcome.

“A decision is being made about our lives based on how many votes are available.”

Council officers had recommended approval, saying: “This is an exceptional permission which is justified due to the personal circumstances of the applicant and his Gypsy Traveller status.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Essex Police were contacted by a Tendring district councillor over the conduct of a man who had submitted a planning application.

“This followed an incident at about 8.45pm on Tuesday at the council meeting.

“We are interviewing witnesses to establish whether any offence was committed.”

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