The man behind the regeneration of Halstead town centre has called on colleagues and residents to lobby highways bosses who he says are holding up the plans.

A blueprint to improve signs, way marking and the look of the public space in the town centre has been in the pipeline since 2014, with Braintree Council committed to funding the scheme.

But proposals have stalled, and Essex Highways bosses have been accused of sitting on the plans by Braintree Council.

Speaking at a meeting on Monday, Tom Cunningham, councillor responsible for economic development, said the authority was as frustrated with the delay as residents.

He said: “We have agreed plans to improve signage, to improve the way marking, to do some visual improvements to the town centre.

“Regrettably, we have the means and the ability to do it, we have the funding allocated and we are potentially ready to go but there is a blockage with the county council in terms of bringing this scheme forward.

“There seems to be a desire to link what are important to Halstead, but in the grand scheme of strategic highway projects across the county, relatively minor improvements which this authority is seeking to bring forward, with a wider strategic programme which I am not too sure is entirely proportionate.”

Councillor Stephen Kirby (Conservative, Halstead St Andrews) called for an update at the meeting , saying he feared Halstead would be left unable to fit in the anticipated growth in its population over the coming years.

In response, Mr Cunningham asked for members to help support the proposals by putting pressure on Essex Highways.

The council boss added: “In terms of what support Mr Kirby and other members can do, I say to join with us to continue to lobby the county council.

“Our ambition and desire to bring this scheme forward is absolutely huge.”

Proposals for the town centre could include the narrowing of the road to make it safer for pedestrians, as well as changes to the parking spaces located in High Street.

Braintree Council has also agreed to support multi-million pound proposals to revamp Braintree town centre.

Those plans include a new doctor’s surgery, 70-bed hotel, bus park, retail space and a new car park.

Essex Highways did not respond to the Gazette’s requests for comment by the time of going to press.