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Corbyn faced with Tameside green belt protestors
Thursday 16th February 2017 @ 09:08 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Hyde News

Green belt protestors demonstrated during Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the area last week.

The leader of the opposition had toured Ashton, visiting Ashton Sixth Form College, a New Charter homes development and New Charter HQ, before concluding with a visit to the Village Ashton for a local Labour Party gathering in the evening.

But he was met with demonstrators outside the Village last Thursday, campaigning against plans to build thousands of new homes across greenbelt land in Tameside as proposed in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Already hundreds of residents have marched against the plans in Stalybridge, Hyde, Mottram and Ashton.

They would have been pleased to learn however that the Labour leader shared their view – stating during his visit that greenbelt should in fact be protected.

He said the £6m New Charter homes development at Coleridge Close in Ashton, which consists of 55 one, two and three-bedroom affordable rental properties and which he toured, was evidence that it could be achieved and that brownfield sites could be successfully developed.

However, on the night, the campaigners’ main focus was on Hyde and Stalybridge Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds and local Labour councillors who they felt had not stepped out themselves to support them.

At the demonstration, Debbie Harford, organiser of Save Stalybridge Greenbelt, said she and her fellow residents were objecting because Tameside Council and her MP Jonathan Reynolds ‘do not seem to be listening to their constituents’.

She added: “The Council still do not have a Local Development Plan, so they are making us vulnerable to development, because we have no Plan to protect us.”

Dr David Tyler, spokesman for Longdendale Community Group, added: “There are three MPs in Tameside, two of which (Andrew Gwynne and Angela Rayner) recognise the importance of keeping greenbelt. Jonathan Reynolds needs to be more responsive to his constituency.”

Message: Green belt campaigners made their feelings known to Mr Corbyn outside the Village Hotel in Ashton

Ashton MP Angela Rayner, who accompanied Jeremy on the tour to her constituency, had echoed her own leader’s view about greenbelt, stating there are plenty of brownfield sites to develop.

Rayner, who supports Mr Corbyn’s view and has herself been involved in protests against the use of greenbelt land, added that she believes that the plans to build houses on greenbelt land is a way the government are “trying to avoid their accountability to development brownsites”, a task that would cost them more money.

She also went on to discuss her view that the reason that several green spaces had been identified in the first place despite this causing upset to many communities is because local councils felt that if they did not select sufficient amounts of land to be developed the power to choose would be taken out of their hands and developers could “land grab” wherever they wanted.

The MP for Ashton maintains there are plenty of suitable brownsites in Ashton and Tameside and governments should work with local councils to get this land ready to build on. She stated that building on greenbelt land should be “a last resort.”

Corbyn’s visit was partly to highlight the housing crisis and his determination to solve it.

At the New Charter development, he discussed his belief that inadequate or overcrowded housing leads to children feeling insecure, meaning they fail to reach their full potential – meaning we all lose as a nation, failing to train the doctors, engineers and other professionals that the country needs.

The MP for Islington North praised the New Charter housing development, holding it up as an example of ‘good, affordable, secure housing’ adding more houses like it are needed.

He fielded questions from the press about Brexit, disunity in the party and his own leadership.

But some of his most challenging questions came from politics students at Ashton Sixth Form College which he visited in the morning, where he was given a huge welcome which Angela Rayner, herself Shadow Secretary of State for Education, described as ‘brilliant’.

His talk was part of his work with the education charity, Speakers for Schools, which helps state schools and colleges access free talks from leading figures.

READ MORE: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pays a visit to Ashton

READ MORE: Ashton Sixth Form students question Labour leader


By Nigel Skinner & Karishma Visram