A COUNCIL boss has made a complaint against Priti Patel which alleges she acted inappropriately over the controversial Tollgate Village planning application.

The plans to build an out-of-town retail park, including a cinema, shops, restaurants in Stanway, were rejected by Colchester Council in February this year.

After an appeal, the scheme will decided by the Secretary of State for Planning, Sajid Javid.

Ms Patel has publicly stated she has contacted Mr Javid, urging him to approve the application.

Gazette: Witham MP Priti Patel

Colchester Council chief executive Adrian Pritchard has written to Mr Javid alleging she has acted “inappropriately” by contacting the decision-maker directly.

In a two-page letter obtained by the Gazette, Mr Pritchard said: “It has been brought to my attention the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP appears to have communicated her views on the project directly to you.

"The council has not been provided with a copy of this communication.”

Mr Pritchard then refers to a High Court appeal decision concerning Broadway Energy, in Northampton, which was decided on earlier this year.

In it, Lord Justice Richard McCombe criticises Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, for directly approaching a parliamentary under secretary responsible for deciding on an onshore windfarm application.

The judge stated Mrs Leadsom “undoubtedly” breached the Guidance on Political Propriety Issues and added: “Constituency matters are one thing but quasi-judicial decisions decisions [are] quite another.

“Once a planning issue fails to be decided by a minister, as part of the statutory planning appeal process, then representations by anyone, including an MP for the relevant constituency, can only take place lawfully in compliance with proper standards of fairness.

“One party should not be permitted to have access to the decision-maker in order to maker representations in a manner not afforded to his opponent.”

In his letter, Mr Pritchard, added: “The potential here for parallels with Broadway Energy is very obvious.

“If you have received a letter from Priti Patel MP, her letter should clearly have been or be disclosed to the applicant, the council and other interested parties in accordance with the guidance.

“To ensure fairness, I would like to request copies of all correspondence received by you on the matter, especially, but not limited to, correspondence from Ms Patel.

“The council would also like confirmation that you have informed Ms Patel her actions are inappropriate.”

In response, Ms Patel said: “Residents in Stanway feel badly let down by Colchester Council’s refusal to grant permission to the Tollgate Village development.

“The council have completely mishandled this planning matter and I will continue to hold them to account for their actions and poor decision- making.

“I have made my views clear to the council on a number of occasions about how the way they have handled this planning matter and have written to the Secretary of State to highlight the council’s failings.

“Tollgate Village will bring many benefits to the area but Colchester Council is blocking it and denying the jobs and growth it would generate because they are desperately trying to defend their own vested interests in an alternative site.

“All documents are disclosed in the course of the planning process so residents will wonder why the council is wasting time and resources sending this letter.”