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December 11, 2011 4:00 PM
Originally published by Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

Residents acrossNewcastleare outraged at the Labour-run Council's proposals to build thousands of houses on the city's Green Belt. Of particular concern are proposals to build right next to Gosforth and Prestwick Carr Nature Reserves. The Gosforth Nature Reserve is of key interest to Ouseburn residents as it forms the entrance to the Ouseburn valley wildlife corridor which runs through Jesmond Dene and down into the Ouseburn Ward area.

"These proposals are disgraceful," said Stephen Psallidas "but given the new Labour administration at the council have ditched the council's environmental commitments, it is no real surprise that they are being so cavalier with the city's nature reserves."

Small Victory

At a packed council meeting on 2 Nov, a Lib Dem/Independent motion forced Labour to extend the consultation period to Jan 4th. Local Lib Dem councillor Gareth Kane also persuaded the Council to hold one event in the East of the city which had been completely left out of the consultation process. "This is a small victory" said Gareth "but the fact is that people in the East End of the city have the right to have their views heard as much as anyone else."

Let's Talk? Labour'd Rather Not...

The man behind the green belt plan, Labour's Cllr Henri Murison, Cabinet Member for Quality of Life, ducked out of a public meeting in Gosforth to discuss the plans. Hundreds of residents turned up to express their dismay at the proposals, but Cllr Murison and the Labour Cabinet left council officers to face the music.

Gosforth Lib Dem Councillor Bill Shepherd told the audience that the Lib Dems would never have put this site forward for development. Bill said "We don't agree with Labour's prediction of a need for 21,000 new homes. Most of what is required could be built on 'brownfield' sites within the city itself."

Labour Still Spinning

Despite personally signing off the proposals, Cllr Murison keeps trying to pin the blame on others, in particular the Government, but the truth is that the Government's new planning framework would strengthen the protection given to the green belt.

"At best Cllr Murison is trying to shift blame for his decision, at worst this is a deliberate attempt to mislead people." said Stephen, "but whichever it is, this whole episode exposes Labour's 'Let's Talk' as a complete sham."