The entrance to Woodhouses village
The entrance to Woodhouses village

FAILSWORTH Labour Party have slammed the Failsworth Independent Party Councillors’ betrayal of local people over proposals to open the green belt in the area up to developers.

In a crucial vote at a special meeting of all Oldham Councillors all three Failsworth Independents voted for a Liberal Democrat amendment to Oldham’s future plans for new homes. If successful, the amendment would have seen Oldham withdraw from a joint plan with other Councils, called ‘Places For Everyone’, in which the Woodhouses Green belt is protected. Fortunately for the people of Failsworth and Woodhouses the amendment failed as there were enough Labour Councillors, including Peter Davis and Elaine Garry from Failsworth, to vote it down.

The Independent’s vote is a direct betrayal of a pledge made during the recent local elections where leaflets promoting their candidates, Mark Wilkinson and Neil Hindle, stated, “If elected Mark and Neil aim to work with Brian (Hobin) to protect and enhance green spaces and areas of natural beauty”.

Sean Fielding, Secretary of Failsworth East Labour Party (in which Woodhouses is located) and former Failsworth Councillor, said, “Fewer than three months after being elected the Independents are already failing the electorate by voting against saving the very green spaces that they promised not just to protect, but to enhance.

“In Failsworth East the Failsworth Independents received vocal backing from key figures in the local ‘Save the Green Belt’ group too. If I were them I would be feeling utterly betrayed.”

A previous version of a joint development plan, known as the ‘Greater Manchester Spatial Framework’, included green belt sites in Woodhouses for up to 260 homes. Following negotiations between Failsworth Labour Councillors past and present, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, the plans for green belt development were significantly scaled down.

Sites in Woodhouses known as ‘The Trotting Track’ and ‘Land at Ashton Road’ were removed from the plan altogether and are proposed to retain their protected green belt status in Places for Everyone.

Despite the opposition of the Independents Places for Everyone was agreed by a majority of Oldham Councillors and will go forward to the Secretary of State who will order a Public Examination of the plan. Following examination, the plan will be sent back to the nine member Councils for a final vote on adoption, estimated to take place in 2023.

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