PROTESTORS chalked messages demanding action on climate change as they labelled budget plans “not acceptable”.

Residents gathered outside Wivenhoe Library as they campaigned for more to be done to tackle the climate emergency.

Resident Jo Wheatley said residents felt the messages Essex County Council was sending were mixed.

County Hall plans to set aside £5million to address environmental issues in its budget for 2020/21.

But at the same time it has proposed investing an extra £5million for highways, something campaigners say go against climate proposals.

Ms Wheatley said: “For the county council to be spending money lobbying to fund new roads while overseeing cuts to school transport and rural bus services and not committing capital investment in cycling infrastructure or maintaining pavement surfaces is not acceptable.

“Transport is the UK’s number one source of carbon emissions.”

Ms Wheatley, who is also co-ordinator of Wivenhoe Bike Kitchen, has also called for better cycling routes and cutting speed limits from 30mph to 20mph.

David Finch, leader of the council, said: “Action speaks louder than words and we intend to use our new fund to take action on climate change.

“We will be advised on how we can get the maximum from that investment by an Independent Climate Change Commission, which we are in the process of establishing.

“Our proposals reflect the people’s priorities – so caring for vulnerable people and investing in roads and infrastructure, for example, are high on the list.”

A spokesman for Essex Highways said: “We are committed to establishing a coherent cycle route network in every urban area.

“Reducing pollution and traffic congestion and increasing activity levels - and, therefore, resident’s health - are all part of this aim.”

The spokesman said the authority was working with councils to develop a list of future schemes.