The Realities & Effect of the Council's Green Belt Petition Vote

 

Jan and Tom's Letter to the Editor about the 27.2.20 Council Vote on the Green Belt Petition was published in the Surrey Advertiser on 6.3.20 under the title "Council failed people who want to protect green belt" - Jan & Tom say:

 

"As the initiators of the 38degrees petition to "Save the Green Belt in Spelthorne", the refusal of the Conservative majority to back the 5500 signature strong petition demanding that Spelthorne does not release 19 Green Belt sites in the draft local plan amounts to a betrayal of Spelthorne residents who have unequivocally called on the Council to protect all Green Belt in the Borough.

Last Thursday, the Council had to vote on the demand of the petition - not because the Council leadership wanted to but because the petition had attracted so many signatures that the petition had to be voted on. It was a chance for all Councillors to represent their residents' concerns for the Green Belt. Yet 13 Councillors (11 Conservative Councillors, one Labour and one Independent Councillor) did not attend the vote and 13 other Councillors (the remaining 12 Conservative Councillors and one independent) chose not to support the unequivocal demand to keep the Green Belt safe. 13 Councillors across the Green Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted to save the Green Belt. At a vote of 13:13, the deputy mayor received the casting vote.

In short, a vote by any one Conservative or Independent Councillor could have saved the Borough's Green Belt in its entirety, including at Stratton Road, Charlton Village and so many other sites. Yet, despite all rhetoric to the contrary, this did not happen. This is shocking and illustrates the reality of the all too common duplicity between what residents are told and what choices are actually made in the Council and by the Council leadership.

It is a scandal that - during a time of Climate Emergency and increased flood risk - residents' serious and legitimate concerns for Spelthorne's Green Belt are not acted upon by the leadership. It is, after all, actions that matter, not words, and words are hollow when they amount to nothing more than 'Greenwashing' and misleading residents to believe that this Council cares about the Green Belt when it is the Council that seeks to release 19 Green Belt areas in the new local plan.

By law, it is only Spelthorne Borough Council that can decide to release any Green Belt - not the Central Government, not Surrey County Council and not the national Inspector. The responsibility lies fairly and squarely on the Council leadership - and they have clearly shown where their preferences and agenda lies when they decided not to vote in favour of Green Belt protection on 27th February."

Cllr Jan Doerfel & Cllr Tom Lagden

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