The leader of the opposition Cllr Howard Sykes asked a second question about the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework at Full council in December 2016.
Mr Mayor, my first question of the Leader tonight again relates to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
I make no apology for it, Mr Mayor, because in my part of the world this is undoubtedly the single most important local issue to our citizens.
I was surprised by the response of the Leader last time.
She talked of the need for more homes in our Borough and more aspirational homes in our Borough – something I do not disagree with - but there was no recognition that the growth and pain should be shared across the Borough, rather than concentrated in one corner of it!
Mr Mayor, I would like to reiterate that the land earmarked to build an awful lot of these new homes is in Shaw, in Crompton and in Royton.
It may be that only three percent of the Borough’s Green Belt is being lost, but the lion’s share of that amount is being lost is in the wards represented by myself and my colleagues for Shaw, Crompton and Royton.
Under the proposals outlined under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, over 3000 new homes will be built on green field sites in Shaw and Crompton alone!
Vast swathes of Green Belt stretching from the rear of Dunwood Park to Burnage will be lost forever to bricks, concrete and tarmac.
3,000 new homes built in two wards in which, as a consequence of the withdrawal of local facilities or underinvestment, we have primary schools that are already overcrowded and full; a secondary school that is falling apart; a dilapidated health centre that is near cardiac arrest; no swimming facilities or dry leisure provision; precious few youth facilities and no municipal tip.
3,000 new homes that are built for growing families will need more primary and secondary school places; more GPs and dentists; and new highways and more buses and trams to get them about their daily business.
And doesn’t the decision not to replace the Crompton Pool and Gym now look a little short-sighted given the number of new young residents that will need to learn to swim and the number of adults that will want to keep fit?
More and more of my constituents are frankly getting more and more fearful and angry about these proposals.
This frustration was reflected in the fact that more than 200 residents turned up recently to a public consultation and we have had to organise a second event tomorrow, Thursday 15 December.
My question tonight Mr Mayor is in three parts.
I would firstly like to ask the Leader whether she really is convinced that there is a need for such a large land grab of Green Belt to build so many homes and such an increase in industrial provision in our Borough?
And if the answer is yes, why is it that the lion’s share of that burden is placed upon Shaw, Crompton and Royton rather than apportioned out with other parts of the Borough having a Fair Share?
And lastly would the Leader agree with me that we first need to develop on brown field land, on land with existing planning permission for housing and on unloved derelict sites, and also bring back empty homes into occupation and convert empty factories and mills into flats, before we look to touch any part of our precious Green Belt and Green Spaces?
Councillor Howard Sykes MBE,Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Oldham Council