At a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority last month the Labour leader of Stockport Council, the other nine Labour council leaders and the elected mayor agreed to take away the requirement for each Council to individually vote to agree the controversial forthcoming Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), which is expected to include proposals for considerable green belt development.
In an innocuous paragraph hidden away in a description of the revised timetable, brief reference was made of taking an ‘in principle’ decision, changing the approach taken from being a “Joint Development Plan” to a “Spatial Development Strategy”.
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of Stockport Liberal Democrats and Chair of the Greater Manchester Housing Planning and Environment Scrutiny Committee, has uncovered that this means that any decision to implement GMSF need only be approved by a vote of the 10 council leaders and the mayor. The previous approach would have required a vote in each of the 10 constituent full councils for the proposals to be accepted.
Cllr Smart said: “This is a blatant power grab by Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Labour bosses. Power should be given to, not taken away from, local people who have real concerns about transport, school places and hospital beds that have not yet been fixed by this plan.
“We need the right homes in the right places. Labour and the developers have failed to win the argument with local people about building on the green belt. They are running scared that they wouldn’t win a vote in each council and so now they are changing the rules.
“This is an abuse of power and they must think again. Once our greenbelt is gone it is gone for good.”