Campaigners tell politicians: Get off the fence over Rainford’s greenbelt

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Candidates standing to become St Helens North MP must “get off the fence” and speak out on green belt issues, Rainford campaigners say.

St Helens Council has caused outrage with its plans to grab land from the green belt in the rural village and allow developers to build on it.

Those fighting to save the land in Rainford are calling on all candidates standing in the general election to oppose the council’s plans.

James Wright, who lives in the village with his young family, is chair of Rainford Action Group.

He said: “St Helens Council’s plans for Rainford are unreasonable, unnecessary and unworkable.

“We will demand a clear and unambiguous commitment from every candidate standing to be our MP that they will work with us to fight these plans.”

St Helens Council wants to take seven sites out of the green belt in Rainford and build an industrial unit and at least 1,140 houses. That would grow the rural village by a third and destroy grade one farmland – the highest quality agricultural land possible.

There is no guarantee any of the houses would be affordable or that any of the money generated by the development would be spent in Rainford.

The council has admitted it has no plan as to how the village’s already inadequate infrastructure could be improved to cope with such a significant expansion.

Rainford is in the St Helens North constituency. Sitting MP Conor McGinn has already confirmed he will seek re-election.

Mr McGinn asked to meet James Wright in February and expressed concerns at the plans for Rainford.

James Wright said: “Mr McGinn said he was keen to help us and we were very pleased to hear that. Sadly, since then we have seen little evidence of any effort to challenge the council’s plans or support our cause.

“In the run-up to the election, we are demanding Mr McGinn takes a much more active role speaking out on behalf of the voters he wants to represent.”

Mr McGinn has previously stressed the fact he has no control over council policy.

But campaigners say they want Mr McGinn to use his influence and profile to help challenge the council’s plans.

Mr Wright said: “It’s time to get off the fence. If a candidate wants to represent an area in parliament, they must take a view on the biggest issue affecting that area.”

Rainford Action Group, which was formed just before Christmas, has already organised two rallies and held a number of public meetings in the village.