Call to ‘radically overhaul’ local plan

Council leader Barrie Grunewald
Council leader Barrie Grunewald

Political opponents of Labour have branded the promotion of a controversial councillor to a key economic role as a “disgrace” saying the council’s unpopular local plan should be radically overhauled.

The borough’s Green Party leader David O’Keefe spoke out after a week of political turmoil in the borough which saw three senior councillors sacked from their cabinet posts after attempting to unseat council leader Barrie Grunewald.

“Following the “bloodbath” at the St Helens Labour Party annual general meeting and the decision to sack and replace half the Cabinet, the Local Plan should be radically overhauled,” said Mr O’Keefe.

“The decision to appoint Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron cabinet member for growth is a disgrace.

“It is not only an act of provocation towards the many green belt groups and campaigners in St Helens, but a clear indication that Cllr Grunewald has become increasingly isolated.

“There is considerable disquiet amongst the Labour group due to the serious and sustained opposition in St Helens towards the Local Plan.

“I call for the Local Plan to be overhauled by the Council before any more money is squandered on it.

“The people of St. Helens have no faith in Cllr Gomez-Aspron’s ability to oversee the Local Plan due to his increasingly aggressive and provocative behaviour towards green belt groups and campaigners.

“Such an appointment brings the St Helens Labour group into disrepute.”

The Rainford Action Group, which is protesting against plans to build on the area’s greenbelt, has called Coun Gomez-Aspron’s appointment “deliberately provocative”.

Coun Gomez-Aspron hit back, calling the comments “personal abuse” and claiming he had received “racist abuse” from people angry about the local plan.