Angry residents have hit back at plans to spend more than £200,000 on new tennis courts in Halstead, arguing the money should have been used elsewhere.

A total of £210,216 funding was agreed by Braintree Council for the revamp at Courtauld Sports Ground.

The funds were secured through housing developer contributions from a new estate east of Sudbury Road on the outskirts of town.

However, some residents demanded the money be spent elsewhere in the town.

One described it as an “absolute waste of money”.

They said: “What about improving the Halstead Circular Walk making it accessible to all.

“The health and mental health benefits for all far outweigh the few who might play tennis, and the walk is free to all.”

Another frustrated resident questioned why the money did not go towards improving healthcare or mental health services, policing, a youth centre and more.

Braintree Council has outlined how the decision was made and has said it will continue to look at opportunities for new facilities.

Planning boss Gabrielle Spray said: “It is a shame some people do not welcome this additional investment in Halstead where we are providing more outdoor sporting facilities for residents and which are such vital facilities for clubs.

“We liaised with the town council who suggested this as an area that needed upgrading in the town.

“Section 106 funding is a complex area and it’s important we educate people on what we can and cannot influence in terms of money being spent in the district.

“It is not for us as the local planning authority to set the amounts which are requested by statutory providers such as the NHS or Essex County Council from developers to deliver improvements, but to secure those contributions that are asked for in full and we have always done this.

“Whilst the council can encourage these authorities to spend these contributions we do not control precisely how or when these other authorities spend the contributions.

“We absolutely appreciate the need for increased healthcare provision, road improvements and other facilities across the district and where we can have influence.

"We will look at opportunities for new facilities, such as any land we own that we could transfer, just like we did with the forthcoming Hedingham Medical Centre which is now just waiting Central NHS England confirmation to go ahead.

“We’ve also set aside £600,000 to support community and voluntary groups with the creation, improvement and development of new community assets in Halstead, and we are progressing with improvements to Halstead High Street.

“We are committed to ensuring the funding is utilised to benefit our communities and kept at pace with the planned growth of the district whilst doing all we can to secure more money for the district through the planning process.”