Row erupts over council leader’s ‘nimby’ barb at protest group

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A war of words erupted last night between St Helens’ council leader and a campaign group protesting against developments on greenbelt land after he branded them “nimbys”.

Coun Barrie Grunewald used the term, short for ‘not in my back yard’ in a Twitter exchange with the Rainford Action Group, who want to stop the implementation of the council’s plan to open up greenbelt for new homes and businesses.

The group’s leader, James Wright, last night called the comment an “insult” and demanded Coun Grunewald withdraw what he called a “social media slur”.

However, Coun Grunwald has hit back, telling the Reporter last night he stood by his remarks.

“People forget that as a council we have had £90m cuts,” he said. “It will go to planning committee, they will vote with their conscience.

“I support jobs and investment but I don’t sit in planning so it’s not my call to make.”

The row was sparked when Coun Grunewald replied to tweet from the Rainford Action Group of a picture of a Rainford farmer ploughing local fields which the group says has been allocated for new homes.

Coun Grunewald replied, posting: “As I say you are nimby’s.”

James Wright, chair of Rainford Action Group, said: “We think this behaviour is unworthy of the man who leads St Helens Council. We demand that he withdraws his insult and apologises immediately.

“We’re ordinary working people deeply concerned about his council’s plans for Rainford and the rest of the borough. We live in a democracy. We should be able to express our objections without being called names by the man in charge.”

The Rainford Action Group is protesting over plans to turn over seven greenbelt sites to housings.

They say they are not opposed to “approriate” development but want better infrasture plans put in place before any building starts.