SECRET meetings between Tendring Council’s regeneration company and a major superstore have been branded a “disgrace”.

Matthew Pattern, councillor for Wrabness, Bradfield and Wix asked about rumours of the meetings at Thursday night’s full council meeting.

He said: “There is a nasty rumour that this council, through INTend, has been having secret negotiations with Tesco linked to its proposal to build a new superstore in Manningtree.”

Mr Pattern, who lives in Manningtree, asked Peter Halliday, the named owner of INTend on behalf of the council, what he knew about the meetings and which councillors had been involved.

He also asked if the superstore development would include money for Manningtree through a 106 agreement and how much.

In response Mr Halliday said: “I was made aware of the negotiations between Tesco and our planning and regeneration departments after becoming a cabinet member.

“Because the information is commercially sensitive I cannot disclose at a public meeting the content of these discussions.

“The regeneration team will be in discussions with many developers and employers to ensure the district is well placed to bring inward investment to Tendring.”

He added after the meeting that he told Mr Pattern he would forward on any information he could and make him aware of what within that could be made public.

But Mr Pattern said he was “determined” to fight the secrecy to bring all the information out to the public.

“It is outrageous.

“Irrespective of whether you agree with a big Tesco or not, the arrival of Tesco in Manningtree will be one of the biggest changes to the town in the last 50 to 100 years.

“It is a very major decision that will be made for the town, people in Manningtree need to know.”

He added: “My frustration is this is not a commercial issue, it is not as though the council is putting something out to tender, it’s a planning application.

“I don’t see any reason people should not be told.”