Nimby Tory Chancellor signs petition against greenbelt building

Bill Esterson

Labour MP Bill Esterson today asked new Tory minister Nick Boles if he considered the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a 'nimby' after it emerged that George Osborne had signed a petition opposing a greenbelt building project in his own constituency while encouraging local authorities around the country to build on theirs.

Bill questioned Mr Boles, who was only appointed as a planning minister by David Cameron last week, in the House of Commons.

Mr Boles, who has himself labelled campaigners who fight to save the greenbelt "hysterical, scare-mongering latter-day Luddites", refused to answer whether he thought Mr Osborne was a nimby.

While the Tory-Lib Dem Government has moved to relax planning laws to once again make it even easier for developers to build where they want, the Chancellor has called on local authorities to allow building on the greenbelt to go ahead.

But  it has now emerged that George Osborne opposes plans to build on the greenbelt in his own Tatton constituency and he has even signed a petition to block the scheme.

Speaking in Parliament, Bill asked Mr Boles: "In his own constituency, the Chancellor says he is opposed to the development of 1,500 homes at the so-called Wilmslow Vision.

"Yet for the rest of the country he is quite content to see wide-scale development of the green belt.

"Can you answer me, do you think the Chancellor is a nimby?"

Mr Boles replied: "I hope you will forgive me if I duck that last question.

"I am very happy to clarify the position and it is very simple, which is there are certain sites within the green belt that are currently brownfield and it is important and right for local authorities to try and bring those forward for development.

"Not all of the green belt is beautiful green fields - some of it a quarry, or some other brownfield use. It is important to focus on bringing forward those sites before thinking of anything further."

Speaking afterwards, Bill said the Tory-Lib Dem Government was proving that there is "one rule for them and another rule for us".

Bill said: "Mr Boles can duck the question all he likes, but it is obvious to everyone that there is one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us.
"While the Tories are willing to take donations form big business developers, like David Wilson Homes who have their eye on building on Formby's greenbelt, they are all too happy top change the rules to suit their wealthy friends.
"But when it comes to threats to their own constituencies' greenbelt, then they are the first in line to say 'not in my back yard'.
"That is just what we are seeing from the Chancellor as he signs a petition to oppose a planning policy which he and his party are foisting on the rest of us.
"It is a policy which threatens the greenbelt in Formby, Maghull, Crosby, Thornton, Lydiate, Aintree, Melling, Ince Blundell and Lunt. It is a policy which threatens the future of the greenbelt in Sefton and the rest of the country.
"So the people of Sefton Central say to George Osborne, the Tories and their developer friends, hands off our greenbelt. This is part of our rich heritage, not an opportunity for you lot to get even richer."

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