On Tuesday evening in a small studio at the Mercury Theatre, listening to proceedings of the scrutiny panel of Colchester Council may not be everyone’s idea of fun.

To be honest, it wasn’t mine either. But I thought it would be good to hear some justification for expenditure of £3.18 million of ratepayers money by North Essex Garden Communities Limited.

Sadly, that didn’t happen. Apparently, the NEGC chief executive, Richard Bayley, had made other arrangements.

Presumably he didn’t feel it was necessary to come along and explain to councillors and the public how so much could be spent on the garden communities scheme in just one year when there is no scheme to work on.

Readers will be aware the Local Plan, of which the three garden communities form part (although not delivering any housing for about 10 years), was consistently described as "not sound" by the Planning Inspector in his letter to councils.

Of particular interest on Tuesday would have been why NEGC felt it necessary to spend almost £250,000 on legal fees to set up a development corporation, a so called "delivery vehicle".

By my estimation, that would pay for a qualified solicitor in a London firm working exclusively for NEGC for six months.

Fortunately my evening wasn’t wasted as I did hear very good presentations about the activities of Colchester Arts Centre, Firstsite and the Mercury Theatre.

All three are providing colour and interest to Colchester, doing good work in the community and attracting visitors to the town with relatively modest financial contributions from Colchester Council. Well done!

Noel Mead