THE ‘deadlock’ in one of the most important Colchester Council committees is set to continue after Tory bosses refused an offer from the ruling alliance.

A compromise put forward by Lib Dem council leader Mark Cory would have seen the Conservative group co-chair the authority’s planning committee.

The move would have represented a significant departure from the norm and the refusal means tomorrow night’s meeting will have to be chaired by an officer for the second time.

In a statement, Tory group leader Darius Laws said: “The Colchester Conservative group are not able to accept the offer to co-chair the planning committee as proposed by the Lib Dem leadership of the council.

“We believe we have been reasonable in asking to chair just one of three committees as such officers of the council will need to prepare to chair the ‘deadlocked’ committees.”

But leader Mark Cory has warned the delay will only hold up council business.

He said: “I am sad that the Conservatives have refused this offer, which showed I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.

“It showed I am open and willing to continue a more inclusive approach which I believe will be all the better for Colchester.”

Mr Cory added: “I really believe we can work with the Conservatives and the town will see the benefit, especially on the planning committee.

“This is an offer which hasn’t happened before and it appears the Conservatives have rejected working together for the betterment of Colchester.”

In the aftermath of the May election, the Conservative group gained two seats to take its total to 25 council seats - one short of an overall majority.

The ‘Progressive Alliance’, made up of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Highwoods Independent group has since formed an administration.

But the Conservative group threw a spanner in the works during the authority’s annual meeting by refusing to back the alliance-approved chair - former mayor Theresa Higgins - of the planning committee.

The local plan committee, which has not met since the election, is also without a chairman.