A TORY councillor faced a barrage of questions on a controversial seawall and plans for 172 homes on parkland.

Roger Hadley was jeered as he justified proposals for the 7ft seawall on Shoebury Common and an estate in Old Gunners Park.

About 50 people attended the heated hustings for his Shoebury seat on Southend Council, ahead of the May 22 election.

Independent candidate Nick Ward backed critics of the schemes. Labour and Lib Dem candidates, Maggie Kelly and Jane Dresner failed to turn up for the meeting at Hinguar Primary School on Monday, leaving Mr Hadley to take the full force of public anger.

Garrison Developments has offered the council almost £1million towards the seawall, if it is allowed to build the homes off New Barge Pier Road.

Members the audience accused the authority of ignoring public opposition to both schemes to get the cash.

Mr Hadley, who has held the seat since 2006, said: “There has been controversy over the housing development and claims the only reason it’s going ahead was because the developer is offering £1million towards the seawall. For a development of this size, a developer would always have to offer a section 106 agreement and it’s £1million towards the town we need in Shoebury.”

The retired newsagent said residents would prefer homes to industrial units, for which Garrison Developments already has permission, but called for investment in roads and social housing from the developer before any development got the green light.

Mr Ward, who owns Pebbles guest house, in Thorpe Bay and is general manager of Leigh Scaffolding, in Shoebury, said: “I believe the defences need to be improved, but not through the proposed scheme.”

Labour members of the audience accused him of having no positive policies, but he said he would fight to keep green spaces in Shoebury and called for East Beach and MoD land around the headland to be cleared of bombs and opened to the public.

Mr Hadley said the council and local MP James Duddridge were lobbying the MoD to make East Beach safe. Both candidates backed calls from Harry Chandler, of Shoebury Residents’ Association, for a new health centre in Shoebury.