Campaigners hit out at mayor over core strategy

CAMPAIGNERS are seeing red over North Tyneside Council’s rejection of their plea to have more land designated as green belt.

Holystone Action Group, set up by residents in a bid to protect greenfield sites in the borough, has handed over a petition backed by more than 2,500 signatories to the council’s cabinet asking it to expand the borough’s green belt.

The plea follows consultation over the council’s preferred options for its core strategy for development in the borough up until 2027.

A spokesman for the action group said: “Mayor Linda Arkley and her cabinet have now twice rejected the wishes of the full council ,and, despite requests from the full council so to do, she refuses to engage with the relevant community groups.

“The mayor and her cabinet show the same disdain to the full council that they show to us.”

Mrs Arkley disputes the group’s claim’s however, saying: “I am disappointed at the inaccurate information that the Holystone Action Group continue to put out.

“Decisions on the core strategy and its contents are not and have never been within the remit of the elected mayor to decide.

“It is the mayor’s duty to take the process forward to set the framework for the borough.

“As the core strategy is one of the council’s key strategic documents and will shape the future of the borough up until 2027 to reflect the needs of all of its residents present and future, it must be decided by the full council and all of its members.

“I have always acknowledged the concerns of people over some of the sites specified in the draft, and that is why the cabinet has again referred the matter to the council to resolve.

“We have already consulted extensively on the preferred options.

“Because of the concern over the locations for growth, which everyone agrees we should prioritise, I agreed to a further consultation on the level of growth wanted.

“We have consulted to a level beyond that of many other councils. That is a fact.

“The core strategy has a statutory process through which it must go, and until council fully considers and debates the potential content of the strategy, including sites, no further consultation can take place.

“I have tried repeatedly to bring the draft core strategy in front of those who will decide on content, but, for some reason, they have not been willing to receive it.

“Holystone Action Group states that it wishes to protect green land, but at the same time it expressed a view in full council in September then formally proposed in November that housing be prioritised on green land at Murton rather than land nearer to them. This is precisely why this council needs to have debate over individual sites.

“As a council, it is imperative that we do get a core strategy framework agreed as a matter or urgency, given the Government’s strong focus on stimulating growth.

“Without this in place, we will find it more difficult to defend applications and appeals from developers in areas which would otherwise be ruled out in the strategy.

“If a framework is agreed, we will be in control of our own growth agenda, something I am sure that everyone in North Tyneside wants.

“Until the council receives and debates the content of the strategy, this borough remains at risk of having others determine where growth goes.”