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Health is far more important than wealth – please save our Green Belt


OVER the Bank Holiday weekend, after a run through some of our beautiful countryside with my family, I wrote to leader of the council Russ Bowden and took to social media urging people to ‘PLEASE SHARE’ if they agree with these sentiments!

If we don’t stop the development of our #GreenBelt we will lose views like the one in this photograph!

Dear Russ Bowden

During a run through some of our beautiful countryside in #Warrington it gave me the opportunity to clear my head and do some blue sky thinking.

As leader of Warrington Borough Council the future of our town and our green belt is within your hands and that of your controlling Labour Group and the senior officers at the town hall.
Together you are tasked with ensuring our town provides for those in need of homes and good health together with employment opportunities.

As town’s go we are already doing better than many on various fronts.

Unemployment is relatively low and many of our jobs are filled by those who live outside the borough.

So why exactly do we have to surrender our green belt land on which we depend for the very oxygen that fills our lungs?

Over 40,000 people each year are dying from pollution related illnesses and Warrington has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the worst polluted town’s in the country.
So why are we even entertaining the thoughts of huge logistics developments on Green Belt land? I say entertaining because your council officers have previously recommended approval for one such distribution centre on prime green belt which was thankfully rejected by members.

But more applications are rolling in, fanned by the fact officers believe this is acceptable in a polluted town often gripped by gridlock.

Planning law, while often complicated for the common man, is quite straight forward regarding green belt – no development unless “exceptional circumstances”.
Well creating wealth while sacrificing health is far from exceptional circumstances.

Nothing in these planning applications does anything to improve our health and well being.

We have far more important issues in our town, with an out dated hospital, lack of recreational facilities and not even enough sport pitches to accommodate our existing teams and clubs.
So what is the solution, particularly in times of austerity?

Well how about borrowing some money with low cost interest rates like you already have successfully done to invest in business and commercial ventures and invest it in our green belt, buying the land under threat of development and then using it to create health and leisure facilities and park lands.

This could be matched by some crowd funding, with those who can afford to, donating money to help fund these projects.

Resident and parish council groups have already demonstrated how they can work together and raise funds to challenge these plans to develop our green belt – imagine having access to that money to preserve our green belt and invest in health and well being.

It could even be used to invest in solar energy and all weather sports pitches, which help raise additional revenue and make it sustainable.

Surely much more acceptable in our countryside than huge logistic centres putting thousands of extra vehicles on our roads and destroying our green belt for ever.

I see in the local plan it states it is only 10 per cent of our green belt being given up – but that is 10 per cent too much.

Thousands of people in our town are suffering from asthma and other health issues which are made worse by pollution.

This is not a NIMBY issue in the south – it is our whole town under threat, from Lymm through Appleton and Grappenhall, across Latchford, across the town centre and right out to Culcheth & Glazebury in the North.

The whole town needs our green lungs – and the whole town needs better health and leisure provision. There are some shining beacons at Orford Park and Great Sankey and Woolston Community hubs.

Let’s see one south of the ship canal instead of lorry parks and warehousing.

Come on Russ – you have the opportunity to leave a legacy we can all be proud of – or you can just allow the developers to continue ploughing up our fields.

Thousands of new homes have already been earmarked for green field sites, with many more and employment opportunities already planned in the town centre and brown field sites.
Let’s see how these go BEFORE we even think about building on Green Belt.

We have years ahead to meet government guidelines and we have already seen the goal posts moved on these – who is to say they won’t be moved again?

The birth rate is falling, the ageing population is starting to level off, with the first signs of people dying sooner than expected due to various health issues brought on by obesity and general unhealthy living.

Let’s put the foot on the brakes a little with all this proposed development, take a deep breath and enjoy our precious countryside so we can keep on running for years to come without breathing in more toxic fumes.

I am sure you will get the support of the vast majority of people in our town if you can look at and adopt this common sense policy.

I also call upon like minded people and politicians to take on board my concerns and act in a responsible manner and lobby for a healthy future for our town.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for those of you who agree this is a sensible option please feel free to share on your networks so the council know plenty of people out there are passionate about saving our green belt and improving our health and well being.’

Meanwhile make sure you have you say on the Local Plan CLICK HERE


About Author

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.


  1. Gosh Gary parkrun is really improving your mental as well as physical wellbeing – wise words – I will give you an extra cheer from Mayor’s Corner on Saturday – seeing your improvement & determination as well as cheers from Louise Blizzard as she lapped me around Victoria Park – Widnes on Saturday gave me the impetus to slash 20 mintues off this year’s pb.

  2. Pingback: Health is far more important than wealth – please save our Green Belt – Gary Skentelbery – Short Term Wealth

  3. 10 out of 10 on all counts Gary. This is not the first time you have put your head above the parapet against our local establishment on behalf of the people and town of Warrington. More power to your elbow.
    A senior WBC planner told me while ago “our planners have a wealth of experience and are far more able to judge the impact of this development on the local amenities than the local residents.’ Since then our “planning chiefs” (we really will really must find a more appropriate collective noun for them in light of the multitude of misgivings on the Local Plan) have given a lie to that assertion of infallibility time and time again. As you have rightly said they have lost sight of the relevance of our green belt to the health and well being of the town and its people.

  4. Just a shame that the wealth of experience that WBC had in its planning department was ripped out piece by piece over the last 24 months by a certain individual who thankfully had the good grace to leave. All the best planners who had been there for years were basically pushed out in favour of agency staff who probably couldn’t put a pin in Warrington on a map. God knows what it’s like there now.

    • Let us not forget, some of those former planners you nostalgically refer to were involved in the “shredding of planning documents saga” that added an already unenviable local reputation of WBC planners, built up over previous years.

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