Parish council warned not to help save greenbelt land

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Parish councillors in Eccleston have been warned by legal officers not to be associated with a campaign to save greenbelt land within the village.

At a recent meeting of Eccleston Parish Council, former borough mayor Geoff Pearl, who is also chairman of the parish council, said the organisation was told any action could lead to allegations they were impartial.

“Coun Geoff Pearl had spoken to St Helens Council’s legal department and was advised that Eccleston Parish Council should not be associated with the campaign to save the greenbelt in the area as it would be seen as the Parish Council not being impartial,” minutes from the council’s recent meeting state.

“Eccleston Parish Council could be accused of pre-determination of any future planning applications.”

The matter was raised after it was decided Eccleston Residents’ Association should not be allowed to have a presence at a recent Smithy Heritiage Open Day event.

Village residents are campaigning for changes to St Helens Council’s controversial local plan, which has identified a number of greenbelt spaces which could be handed over to property developers.

Council chiefs argue more affordable homes are needed in the borough to meet government-set targets to help ease a housing shortage.