AN MP has branded Colchester Council “incompetent and rotten” and accused it of delaying the long-awaited upgrade of the A12.

Witham MP Priti Patel has already expressed anger over delays in widening the A12 from Boreham to Marks Tey.

Plans were discussed in 2017 but Ms Patel claims a final decision has been postponed because of delays in Colchester Council’s Local Plan and garden communities.

A meeting was held at Westminster with Roads Minister Jesse Norman and neighbouring MPs.

Ms Patel said: “Had this scheme progressed as planned, diggers would be going into the ground next year but instead we face indefinite delays because of Colchester Council.

“Businesses and families cannot wait much longer and with every day this scheme is delayed our economy is taking a hit and safety is put at risk.

“The incompetent and rotten Colchester Council is to blame for this.”

The Government committed to fund the scheme in 2014.

A Colchester Council spokesman said: “The responsibility for the future route will rest solely with Highways England and the Government through the Department for Transport.

“There is no question of delaying work on the A12, but we do have to get it right. In following the process for the Local Plan agreed with the Planning Inspector, the North Essex Authorities and Essex County Council have requested that the government chooses a final route which will meet the needs of a growing north Essex economy and the development principles that we have set out to deliver the proposed garden communities.

"If a garden community does come forward in this area, it is imperative the A12 follows the best possible alignment to guarantee it is delivered to those development principles."

They added: “This has always meant planning for future housing and road improvements together, not in isolation, and taking the necessary time to consider the revised evidence and make the right decision, even if it does take some extra months.

"The Government has been very clear that housing and infrastructure is linked – that is why they launched their Housing Infrastructure Fund – as they recognise that much-needed new homes must be supported by the right strategic infrastructure.

“Essex County Council continues to work on the detail of the provisionally-agreed multimillion-pound Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid, to secure the finance for improvements to the A12 around Marks Tey and to allow the proposed new A120 road to join to the A12.

"Since it was submitted in March, a great deal of work continues to be undertaken to deliver the A12 widening scheme, but we are now awaiting the Government’s decision on the HIF bid.”