Petition calls on Colchester council bosses to resign after £160k spent fighting Tollgate Village appeal
Enough is enough – that’s the message from frustrated Colchester residents after a retail development the borough council spent £160,000 fighting was given the green light.
Dozens of people have signed a petition calling for the council’s leader and his deputy to resign over the decision to fight the Tollgate Village planning appeal.
They claim 85% of residents wanted the plans to go ahead – and are angry that they were left to foot the appeal bill.
The council fought the original proposals because it felt the plans would harm the town centre economy by taking shoppers out of town. Planners twice turned down the application before it went to appeal.
But government inspectors gave the multimillion-pound development – a retail park with restaurants and a cinema destined for Stanway – the green light on Friday.
Now father-of-two Jeremy Hagon, who says he has become fed up with “shocking decisions” made by the council, hopes he can make residents’ voices heard with the petition.
Suggesting those at the top of the council have a “lack of strategic leadership” and “complete lack of vision”, the photographer calls on Paul Smith, leader of the council to resign and asks deputy leader Tim Young to do the same.
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Several people have shared and signed the petition – with many suggesting the council did not listen to the views of residents.
Danny Dodge said: “Good stuff, town centre is shocking, Tollgate needs to step up. “The council spent all of our hard earned council tax on opposing this, even though the people who pay the tax want it.”
Mr Hagon said Tollgate Village received 85% public backing – yet council chiefs still tried to appeal.
He added: “I think this time because a lot of people wanted Tollgate Village it really struck a chord.
“The council didn’t listen to what we wanted – and spent so much of our money.”
Responding to claims made in the petition, Mr Smith and Mr Young said they had no plans to resign.
Both believe they were right to protect the town centre from out of town developments.
News of Tollgate Village’s success came on the same day bosses admitted they would have had to pay an extra £6million for a sports park at the council’s own project Northern Gateway, due to be built near the football stadium.
Colchester Borough Council response
Colchester council bosses have said they were right to defend the town centre against Tollgate Village as they reveal they have no intention to resign.
Leader Paul Smith said although he was disappointed to hear the development has gone ahead, the council had to do whatever they could to protect town centre businesses and tourism.
This meant spending £160,000, much of it on legal costs.
Deputy leader Tim Young echoed this, and added that the council defended the appeal to support the existing Local Development Plan.
But he said: “There is a foul-smelling stench around the government’s decision to uphold the appeal.
“It smacks of political interference and goes against the concept of localism.
“We have to live with the decision but it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.”
Bosses will now redouble their efforts to attract more residents, visitors and tourists into Colchester.
Mr Young added: “We have no intention of taking any notice of this politically motivated petition.
“We will continue working together in the best interests of our borough.”