Protest groups seek clarification on councillor’s greenbelt remarks

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A campaign group has called on a senior councillor to clarify comments he made about the future of greenbelt areas of the borough.

Coun John Fulham, who is in charge of the development plan which could see greenbelt used for housing, said some protected areas were not “the rolling hills of Shropshire”.

In an interview with local radio station Wish FM broadcast on Tuesday, November 14, Coun John Fulham, who is in charge of development at the council, spoke about green belt development.

Coun Fulham said: “Some of that green belt like at Florida Farm used to be pit head. Some of it used to be coal mines. It’s not as if we are talking about the rolling hills of Shropshire here. But then there are other parts of St Helens that are also listed as green belt that are absolutely outstanding and deserve protection.”

Now the Rainford Action Group has called on Coun Fulham to clarify his remarks.

The group was launched to prevent the council’s local plan which could see swatches of greenbelt land in Rainford given over to housing developers.

James Wright, chairman of Rainford Action Group, said: “We need Councillor Fulham to clarify his comments immediately. St Helens Council is supposed to be reviewing its Local Plan yet the councilor gave the clear impression that it is a forgone conclusion.

“The 5000 people who took part in the consultation earlier this year need to know the council is going to listen to the concerns they have raised.

“At the moment, it looks very much like the council intends to continue with its development plan unchanged despite the unprecedented outpouring of public opposition it attracted.

“We’d also like to ask Councillor Fulham why he thinks land in Shropshire is worth preserving but land in St Helens is not.

“He obviously doesn’t know Rainford very well because if he did he would realise the land his council wants to build on in the village is of the highest agricultural quality possible, has been farmed for generations and is outstandingly beautiful.

“The council has never before said a judgement would be taken on which green belt land would been handed over to developers based on past use of the land or for aesthetic reasons.

“If this kind of judgement is going to be made, who is going to be making it and on what grounds?

“We want St Helens Council to clarify these comments immediately.

“How can the people of St Helens have faith in this process if senior councillors make such statements so far out from the publication of the next version of the Local Plan?”

St Helens Council were contacted but failed to respond.