I WATCHED with dismay the responses to Priti Patel's questions by Jesse Norman, Minister of State for Transport, about the delays to the A12 widening caused by the north Essex authorities' unsound Local Plans.

He obviously thinks the Essex garden communities are critical to the supply of “much needed housing” and his government is supporting the scheme with money to ensure the A12 is eventually built to accommodate the 24,000 houses.

He is pleased Essex is supporting this with a Housing Infrastructure Fund bid to his department for £100 million (which has been confirmed as only needed to build the garden community).

Sounds a bit like a dog chasing its tail, it never succeeds.

Interestingly his constituency is one of two in Herefordshire, which is one of the most rural and sparsely populated counties in England, well known for fruit, cider and cattle.

Not the greatest or most important economic drivers, one could say.

Herefordshire has a population of 191,000 (2017) with a density of 87/km2. Compare that with Essex; population of 1.47 million, density 423/km2 and Colchester borough; 190,000, density 570/km2.

So Colchester alone is as populated as the whole of Herefordshire but with 6.5 times the population density.

Why do we need to accommodate the biggest (by far) Government-promoted but so-called locally led garden community development in the UK?

Needless to say there are no such developments planned for Herefordshire (to the best of my knowledge in case somebody finds one)!

Moving on, Mr Norman works for Chris Grayling; well-known lately for getting things badly wrong.

The latest and most local to us is the A12 widening, delayed by at least two years to create a bypass around a new town that was found unsound by the government's own planning inspector and may not get built.

It is not only the north Essex authorities who are responsible for this mess.

Neil Gilbranch