Thurrock Labour councillors counter Tory criticism over green belt call-ins

Jane P

SENIOR members of the Labour group on Thurock Council have responded to criticism from Conservative council leader Rob Gledhill and two of his colleagues – who attacked them for putting green belt planning applications before a planning committee.

Cllr Geldhill and Cllrs Sue Little and Barry Johnson spoke up after applications for sites at Judds Farm and two plots off Peartree Lane were brought before the committee on the back of ‘call ins’ made by Labour councillors Gerard Rice, John Kent, Martin Kerin, Sue Shinnock, Mike Fletcher, Jane Pothecary and Cathy Kent, meaning the applications became subject to public debate.

The items had all been recommended for refusal by officers.

In response, Labour’s group leader Cllr Jane Pothecary says:”This is a breathtakingly hypocritical attack by Thurrock Conservatives. It is the Conservative Government, aided and abetted by the Conservative council, that is forcing Thurrock to build up to 36,000 homes, many of which the council admits will need to be built in the greenbelt.

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“It’s also worth remembering that it is a Conservative Government that’s putting a six lane motorway through our greenbelt!

“The Conservatives have shown they are happy to sacrifice parks, community spaces and cram as many properties into already over crowded, congested and polluted areas of our borough. Thurrock Conservatives clearly don’t care about the quality of life for anyone who doesn’t live in Orsett.”

Cllr John Kent said: “As far as process is concerned, when you sign a “call in” application you are merely supporting the request that a planning decision be made by the planning committee and not by officers.

“At that time you have no idea whether officers would be recommending approval or refusal. I have signed some of these as the member that wanted the call in believed officers might look to grant green belt development rather than refuse it.

“It looks as though the Tories are using half truths, lies and distortions in a pretty low way.”

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