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A parish council has nearly finalised the takeover of toilets and a car park after having a “gun put to its head”.

Earls Colne parish councillors felt they had no choice but to take over the running of the village car park from Braintree Council amid concerns over the district council’s proposal to introduce charges.

After as many as three years, the takeover is likely to now take place within a matter of weeks

Parish council chairman John Bendall said: “The only reason we’re doing this is because Braintree threatened to put charges on the car park.

“It was like a gun to the head.”

A Braintree Council spokesman said: "We recognise that some facilities in rural areas are better managed and operated at a local level and believe that parish councils are better placed to identify and determine the particular needs of their local communities."