Facebook users have hit out at one of Uttlesford’s district councillors after pictures surfaced that appear to show him nodding off during a heated debate about whether to approve a controversial 300-home development.

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Tory councillor John Davey, who represents Dunmow North, was photographed by a member of the public at a planning meeting on Wednesday (December 11).

The committee was discussing a proposal by the Kier Group for a scheme on farm land, off Thaxted Road, Saffron Walden, close to the Lord Butler Leisure Centre.

During the meeting – which lasted for more than three hours – 22 speakers had their say before a fiery debate erupted between committee members.

Newport resident Neil Hargreaves claimed he took the pictures over a two-hour period, before later posting them on Facebook group Save Newport Village.

Several people have commented on the photos, including Susan Cameron, who wrote: “Regardless of which way he voted this councillor should be barred. If he is ill then he should have absented himself. He cannot be allowed to vote on such important issues. Outrageous.

“We need a big broom to get some new councillors in this area.”

Mandy Hatcher-Ingham added: “This behaviour is proof positive of the total lack [of] respect these people have for the residents who put them into office.”

Despite the unfavourable appearance of the photos, Cllr Davey strenuously denied being asleep at any point during the debate.

He told the Broadcast: “I remained awake throughout the entire meeting and I did not fall asleep. This guy was on the balcony with a camera and he was not taking photographs, he was filming me.

“He has selected every time I closed my eyes and just cherry picked these pictures.”

At one point during the lengthy meeting, proceedings were halted when Saffron Walden’s county councillor, John Lodge, interrupted the committee.

Cllr Lodge – who earlier in the meeting claimed “people will die” if planners gave the development the green light – was initially asked to leave before committee chairman Cllr Jackie Cheetham allowed him to stay after he made a public apology.

Committee members eventually voted to defer the proposal to obtain more information. Fears had been raised about the lack of education to support 300 new homes and the increase in traffic it would generate. Cllr Davey seconded the proposal for deferral.

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