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War of words over green belt housing figures

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A war of words has broken out between Warrington South’s new Tory candidate Andy Carter and council leader Russ Bowden, over the proposed number of homes to be built in Warrington as part of the draft local plan.

Tory candidate Andy Carter, who is currently a parish councillor at Lymm, says claims by the leader of Warrington Borough Council that he is being forced into building more homes by the Government have been rubbished by a Government Minister.

Following comments made by Cllr Bowden on social media and in the press, Cllr. Carter wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking for clarification as to who is responsible for deciding the number of houses to be built in Warrington in the draft local plan.

In his response, James Brokenshire MP, emphasised that housing need figures are not a target and ‘local authorities should make a realistic assessment of the number of homes their communities need, using the standard method as the starting point in the process.’

Mr Brokenshire went on to say that ‘once this has been established, planning to meet that need will require consideration of land availability, relevant constraints, and whether the need is more appropriately met in neighbouring areas. This will then be scrutinised, as part of the examination undertaken by an independent Inspector. ‘

Commenting on the letter, Cllr Carter said: “The leader of the council’s comments on housing figures are in direct contradiction to what the minister is actually saying.

“It’s down to the council to decide how many are needed, not the Government. Labour’s plan is to build in excess of 900 homes per year, yet Warrington has never exceeded 500. How can that be a realistic assessment?

“They’ve started the process but don’t seem to have applied any common sense. It seems to me that they are threatening our precious green spaces just to generate income. What they are saying just isn’t correct”.

“As the public consultation into the Local Plan begins I urge residents to read the proposals and to make their views known to the Council, The Proposed Local Plan is Labour’s plan, their vision for house building in our borough, Cllr Bowden’s attempt to blame the Government is disappointing but par for the course, for once he should listen to the concerns of Warrington residents and re-think these plans to destroy large areas of South Warrington’s green-belt.”

But Cllr Bowden hit back saying: “Mr Carter routinely plays fast and loose with the facts and this is simply the latest in a series of misinformed, irresponsible and wild accusations.

“First we had the claim about the Council’s levels of reserves – so way off beam that their own Tory councillor disowned it and voted with Labour’s budget. We then had him trying to claim credit for the Western Link, despite never having lifted a finger to deliver it. Now we have him peddling some nonsense allegations about the housing numbers in the Local Plan.

“The Local Plan is quite clearly based around Government guidance, using a baseline from the 2014 census data as directed, along with correct application of the methodology to address affordability and economic growth.

“This is all set out in the Council’s Local Housing Needs Assessment, which supports the Local Plan and is available on our website. It might be helpful if Mr Carter bothered to read it before wasting the time of Government ministers.

“In fact, why doesn’t he publish his letter and the response, so that we all know exactly what was asked and how the reply has been cherry-picked to support this empty statement?

“The Council takes its responsibility very seriously for the delivery of the Local Plan and meeting the demands of Government. The idea that we have grossly inflated housing numbers is preposterous and does Mr Carter and the Tories no credit whatsoever. If he is unable to act appropriately on a matter of such great importance to Warrington, then perhaps he should focus on being a parish councillor and forget about his ambitions for parliament.”

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

5 Comments

  1. I think Mr Carter should do a bit more research. Warrington has regularly exceeded 500 homes per year. If you look back at older housing stats they used to get over 1000 per year (over 2000 a year in the 1980s a few times).

      • Read the quote from the article again. “It’s down to the council to decide how many are needed, not the Government. Labour’s plan is to build in excess of 900 homes per year, yet Warrington has never exceeded 500. How can that be a realistic assessment?” Just stating that Mr Carter has suggested that Warrington has never built that many in any given year, which is totally false, misleading and suggests more research should be done on his part before throwing in comments as facts

        • Strikes me that they’re both playing fast and loose with the facts. The problem is that only one of them gets to decide how much green belt is destroyed at the behest of his mates at Peel, Langtree et al.

          Some time in the future, fingers will be pointed at Russ Bowden and Steve Broomhead and various colleagues for the misleading information they are putting into the public domain to justify their destruction of the greenbelt in the borough.

  2. Are we supposed to believe comments from a minister of this government when at the same time they say there is no connection between cutting the nmuber of police by 20000 and a rise in the crime rate. I wouldn’t believe a word they
    Or their candidates say.

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