Liberal Democrats’ attempt to protect Stockport greenbelt rejected as Labour team up with Conservatives

  • Shock in Stockport council meeting as Liberal Democrat councillors refused to back down on their plans to preserve borough's greenbelt
  • Plans to build on green spaces will go ahead despite fierce opposition from Liberal Democrats
  • Labour councillors rejected calls to protect the environment, instead choosing to team up with the Conservatives

Former Liberal Democrat MP, Mark Hunter, last night led a rebellion in Stockport council, forcing the chamber into a vote on plans to build more than 12,000 homes on protected greenbelt land in Stockport. 

The Liberal Democrat councillor for Stockport forced the chamber to take an immediate vote on an amendment that would have halted the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities' (GMCA) plan.

Speaking on behalf of concerned local residents, Councillor Mark Hunter, who won 60% of the vote in this year's local elections, rejected plans to allow the Greater Manchester Spacial Framework (GMSF) to build on Stockport's green spaces, calling for a vote on his amendment.

The Labour-run council narrowly avoided an embarrassing hit.

Other Lib-Dem councillors rallied behind Mark when the chamber was asked whether they agreed to consider a report by the council.

The amendment forced Labour and Conservative councillors to make a snap decision on whether Stockport should pull out of the GMSF process. In a surprising turn of events, Labour rejected the call to protect the greenbelt, instead choosing to join forces with Conservative councillors to vote down the amendment, with no debate taking place on the amendment.

The GMSF will go ahead as planned following Labour and Conservative councillors' successful teaming up.

Mark Hunter said: "This is a huge disappointment for us, and more importantly for local residents, but it is not the end."

Councillor Mark Hunter Cheadle Hulme South
Councillor Mark Hunter Cheadle Hulme South

More than 20% of all identified potential sites for development by GMSF are within the Stockport area, which Cllr. Mark Hunter slammed as a result of "developers and landowners targeting Stockport."

He continued: "What we need, and fully support, is affordable family homes close to existing public transport and shops."

Until all other options have been exhausted I can't support destroying any of our green spaces.

The former MP added that there is an "abundance of brownfield spaces, derelict and disused buildings and existing sites that should be developed first."

Councillor Lisa Smart, who seconded the rejected amendment, added:"This whole process has just been about where is easiest and cheapest to build on, not where is most appropriate for the average family and future generations."

Cllr Lisa Smart Bredbury Green and Romiley
Councillor Lisa Smart Bredbury Green and Romiley

"As Labour and Conservative councillors stand by and watch our children deprived of green spaces to grow and play in, it will continue to be the Liberal Democrats that stand up for local residents."

The Lib-Dem candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, Jane Brophy, said: "This whole backroom saga from the GMCA has been an absolute shambles, highlighting their embarrassing lack of transparency and the desperate need for a more open process.

"The GMCA needs to stop making decisions behind the scenes and involve local authorities in issues that affect their areas."