At the full council meeting of October 5, the Leader of Braintree District Council, councillor Graham Butland, announced that he was imposing changes to some of the committee positions held by members of the Green & Independent Group of councillors.

He removed councillors Tom Walsh and Nick Unsworth from one position each.

He removed me from three positions although the agenda did not make that clear.

As the Leader of the main opposition group on the council, I am to be removed from Group Leader Briefings, attending Cabinet and the Developing Democracy Group.

At the Full Council meeting, councillor Butland chose to disclose that he and I had previously had three meetings to discuss matters, despite the fact he assured me that those meetings were entirely private between us.

In last week’s Braintree & Witham Times article “Social Media Page Sparks Council Row”, councillor Butland is quoted as saying that there is an offer “to reach a settlement satisfactory to all sides”.

But in the extensive discussions I had with him, I did not detect any such willingness, unless I did what he demanded.

Having been a member of Braintree District Council for more than 21 years, I cannot recall any other time when the Leader of the Opposition has been treated like this.

At the Braintree District Council meeting of October 5 I asked councillor Butland what reasonable justification he could offer for his actions.

None were given, with most of his comments being about third-party Facebook postings over which I have no control.

The debate was then closed down before these issues could be explored further.

This course of events is as unfortunate as it is bizarre.

Since the local elections in May 2019, the G&I Group has worked with the Braintree District Council administration where we can and there has been all-party agreement following negotiations on issues such as the Rivenhall Airfield Waste Incinerator and the G&I cycling motion that was agreed unanimously in June.

I doubt that most residents are impressed by a “who said what” row about Facebook.

They want their councillors to get on with the job and represent them as best they can, including working cross-party when possible.

So I do hope that the Leader of Braintree District Council and his Tory majority group will think again.

Councillor James Abbott

G&I Group Leader

Waterfall Cottages, Rivenhall