COUNCIL bosses have rejected calls to release extra cash for highway improvements across the district.

Braintree Council voted against a proposal to use money from the government's New Homes Bonus scheme to address long-running problems with a number of roads.

The council's Local Highways Panel has a list of projects and repairs which can only be addressed when funding becomes available.

During a debate on the council's budget for the new year financial year in April, Green and Independent leader James Abbott had suggested money given to the council from the government for building new homes should be passed over to the highways panel.

He suggested £200,000 could be released from the fund to address a long-standing issue on the B1018 between Braintree and Witham.

Other projects such as installing traffic calming measures along Witham Road in Faulkbourne, and in London Road, Great Notley, are also awaiting funding.

Mr Abbott said: "The Cressing bend as you are coming from Cressing into Braintree is in a terrible state. The panel for years has a scheme on its books to ease out that bend and provide proper footways on both sides of the road.

"It’s an infrastructure project that would create improved access, but we can’t progress it because it costs £200,000 and our budget is down to £400,000.

"Why can’t we use just the money as a one off to kickstart all these projects which are stuck?

"If we do the big ones, we can’t do the small ones, and if we do the small ones, we can’t do the big ones – we’re stuck.

"This is a one off injection for one year from a fund which we know has money available for projects of this type. The council gave the North Essex Garden Communities company £350,000 - surely this is just as important, if not more?"

Only seven councillors voted for the motion, while 36 were against and one abstained.

Another motion to spend more money on the council's recycling service was also rejected.

Councillors went on to vote in favour of approving the budget, which will see nearly £43m spent on capital projects in the coming 12 months.

This includes funding for the Manor Street redevelopment, pedestrianisation of Braintree town centre and the new Horizon 120 business park planned for Great Notley.

The investment means Braintree Council will increase its council tax bill by 2.75 per cent, meaning the average household will pay an extra £3.55 per year.

Other authorities such as Essex County Council will also increase their council tax bills in the new financial year.