THE former leader of Basildon Council has been criticised after claiming all those who speak out against new housing are “old Nimbys”.

Outspoken Gavin Callaghan, who stood down as leader of the Labour group after Labour lost council control to the Tories, made the extraordinary claims against Billericay Action Group.

Members had raised concerns about plans about the infrastructure connected to 3,000 homes in Billericay under the Basildon Local Plan.

Plans which may now be re-assessed by the Tories.

Mr Callaghan, who refused to speak to the Echo about his accusations, tweeted a picture of the group.

He stated: “The average age of these Billericay NIMBYs?

“They don’t want any homes built for the next generation. Unsurprisingly, they vote Tory. Selfishness personified.”

A Nimby - which stands for not in my back yard - is given to people who accept there is a need for something but doesn’t want it near them.

The comments have been greeted with derision by Conservative councillors, who regained control of Basildon Council.

Billericay West Councillor Phil Turner, who stood down as the leader of the Basildon Conservative Party on Friday following victory, said: “I personally think councillor Callaghan should be demanding higher standards as a politician.

“At the earliest opportunity we will make a point of re-examining the plan and try our best to make sure that, with the help of officers and government officers, we do what we can to make the plan work for as many of the borough’s residents as possible.

“We know we have a responsibility to provide housing, and we will do so.

“However, we want to ensure as far as possible the plan serves the residents who already live in the borough, as well as newcomers.”

The plans for the 3,000 new homes were passed under the Labour, Ukip, and independent alliance that will continue to run the affairs of the council until its AGM later in the month.

Chairman of the Billericay Action Group, Mike Andrews, said: “We have always had a consistent view that the plan just isn’t sustainable, the number of houses is far too high and the infrastructure hasn’t been properly considered.

“I am fairly confident that under the new administration there will be a more considered look at the plans and a chance to take into account the views of the 963 people who attended our information day about the plans.

“We know and accept that there will be building - there has to be - but we want to make sure that it’s as sustainable as possible.

“People of all ages and all backgrounds are extremely concerned, and turned out in their hundreds to demonstrate this.”

Mr Callaghan is still a Basildon councillor.