LABOUR SLAMS TORY GREENBELT ‘HYPOCRISY’
Coalition ministers press council to ‘create conditions for economic growth’ yet Northumberland Tories say NO
Northumberland Conservative’s opposition to plans put forward by the county’s Labour and Independent administration has been branded as ‘opportunistic and hypocritical’ after it emerged that coalition government ministers like Chancellor George Osborne, Planning Minister Nick Boles and DEFRA Minister Owen Paterson all called for ‘local council’s to create the conditions for economic growth’ and to see greenbelt space as ‘not preserved in aspic’. Labour have also pointed to the fact that the committee which was charged with overseeing the ‘grow Northumberland’ plan had a Conservative majority of councillors yet they didn’t raise any concerns through the planning process.
Local Conservatives in Northumberland led by Guy Opperman and Cllr. Peter Jackson who leads the Tory group on the council have attacked ambitious plans set out by Labour to ‘grow the county population to create the conditions for economic growth, provide thousands of affordable housing to tackle the county’s housing waiting list and protect 96% of the county’s greenbelt. Labour also point to the purpose of the plan to protect 91% of existing greenbelt land for at least 20 years and create an additional 5% new greenbelt land.
Now Labour are have launched their ’12 quotes for Christmas’ which they say show Northumberland’s Tories are out of step with the coalition government. Residents in the county are entitled to ask ‘what do Northumberland’s Tories really stand for?’
A Labour group spokesperson commented
‘We’re determined to make sure we keep our promise to build over 2000 affordable homes across the county but we’re also making sure that, through our plan to ‘grow Northumberland’ will safeguard 91% of existing greenbelt. In addition, we’re consulting on designating a further 5% of land as new greenbelt. Northumberland’s Tories decision to say no to economic growth, no to affordable housing and no to protecting huge tracts of greenbelt for the next 20 years means they’re at odds with their own government. The 12 Tory quotes for Christmas from Tory ministers and supporters show that Northumberland’s Conservatives have left themselves open to charges that they’re ‘playing politics’ with people’s homes and economic growth’.
Notes for Editors
12 Conservative Quotes for Christmas
1. ‘The Government has a ‘moral’ duty to force councils to find land for development to defend Margaret Thatcher’s dream of a ‘property owning democracy’. And he has warned grandparents who oppose new housebuilding risk 'propping up their kids and their grandkids' who cannot afford to buy their home own’. Planning Minister Nick Boles : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2259908/Nick-Boles-Build-green-sites-rich-homes-warns-planning-minister-tells-grandparents-stop-NIMBYs.html#ixzz2hEcisbkr
2. Senior Conservative cabinet minister Francis Maude today describes opposition to the Government's controversial planning reforms – from the National Trust and Tory grassroots – as "bollocks", and says he has no sympathy for their position. Francis Maude http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/top-tory-rounds-on-core-support-over-green-belt-2364448.html
3. George Osborne provoked a backlash from environmental groups yesterday by promising to allow more building in the Green Belt as part of a new "go-for-growth" strategy. Mr. Osborne said he wanted local authorities to do more "land swaps" under which they can allow building in the Green Belt around towns and cities if an equivalent area of land elsewhere is safeguarded. Chancellor George Osborne Independent 3 Sept 2012 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osborne-tries-again-to-free-up-green-belt-land-for-housing-8101482.html
4. ‘The planning minister stood firm on potential green belt housing developments, despite backbenchers warning him Tories were losing votes on the issue. Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday, Nick Boles refused to back down from his position that more development was needed to combat the housing crisis’. Planning Minister Nick Boles (again) http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/development/planning-minister-stands-firm-on-green-belt-development/6529209.article
5. In comments that will concern home owners living in the countryside, Baroness Hanham, a Communities minister, described the green belt as only “virtually sacrosanct”. Lady Hanham said that the Government believes that affordable homes will now have to be built on green belt land. She said that some of the land is not “absolutely brilliant” and should be used for developments in order to avoid having to build in “real open space”. Baroness Hanham Daily Telegraph 9th Oct 2013 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/9848818/Greenbelt-land-not-absolutely-brilliant-should-be-used-for-development-says-minister.html
6. Nick Boles: My hon. Friend is absolutely right that it is an absolutely core tenet of Government policy that the green belt should be protected. It is also an absolutely core tenet of Government policy that housing need should be met. That is why localism is difficult and not a free lunch for anybody—we are devolving the matter to local authorities, in their communities, to resolve that very difficult tension between competing policy demands. Nick Boles (again) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130130/halltext/130130h0002.htm#13013065000111
7. ‘Don't block new rural homes, David Cameron tells Tories: Conservatives should stop opposing countryside planning reforms because changes will help children get ahead in life, says Prime Minister’. David Cameron http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/10458385/Dont-block-new-rural-homes-David-Cameron-tells-Tories.html
8. The National Trust has become locked in a war of words with a planning minister over the charity's 'risible' claims that Green Belt land will be threatened by Coalition planning reforms. Conservative MP Greg Clark accused the charity of 'nihilistic selfishness' after the trust dared to voice concerns over 'damaging development in undesignated countryside'. Conservative Minister Greg Clark http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2028948/National-Trust-blasted-Tory-MP-Greg-Clark-Green-Belt-protection-fears.html
9. "Given a two million increase in our population over the last ten years and historic under-provision of housing we have to be realistic that not all the housing that we as a country need can be on brownfield land," he said. "In some places, this may mean building on low quality, environmentally uninteresting fields. In exceptional circumstances, it may involve a Green Belt review.". It’s that man Nick Boles again http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=73&t=150943
10. Not content with tearing the Conservative Party asunder and dividing the whole nation over same-sex marriage, it appears that the Tory metropolitan elite are intent on establishing the poverty of their cultural hinterland by concreting over England's green and pleasant land. And once it's gone, it's gone forever - as the party used to intone in the days when it used to care. Tory Blogger: http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/tory-metropolitian-elite-to-concrete.html
11. In an interview on Sunday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he wanted to see more "imaginative" thinking by planning authorities, which could allow building on previously protected land. George Osborne (again) http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/sep/02/george-osborne-deregulation-planning-laws
12. And the final word must go to DEFRA minister Owen Patterson ‘The countryside cannot be frozen “in aspic” and must be built on, the Secretary of State for the Environment has said. Owen Paterson said that the Government’s planning reforms are “clear” on building on the green belt arguing that it was important to build “living communities.” Mr Paterson refused to say that the amount of protected green belt land would not decrease under the current government. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/10459025/The-green-belt-cannot-be-frozen-in-aspic-Owen-Paterson-says.html