Express & Star

'Hypocrisy or greed?' Councillor questions drive to protect Walsall green belt

Politicians in the Black Country have been accused of "playing the populist campaign card" by demanding the protection of the green belt.

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Land at Yieldsfield Farm, off Stafford Road, Bloxwich, has been earmarked for homes

Walsall councillor Doug James said some of his council colleagues were blindly backing campaigns to save green sites without questioning the impact on disadvantaged parts of the borough.

He said Darlaston South, which he represents, had seen services stretched due to hundreds of homes being built on brownfield sites, with people there left to pay the social costs for "middle class left-leaning residents and Tory diehards".

Councillor James, an independent, has warned council chiefs that efforts to address the borough's housing shortage will be hindered if land supply is restricted.

It comes ahead of the next stage of the controversial Black Country Plan (BCP), which has seen residents campaign against proposals to build thousands of homes on green belt sites across the region.

Councillor James said the green belt was "not cost free" and efforts to protect it had already resulted in "less homes being built and higher prices".

He said: "Many people who support 'green belts' are well off and well housed. Why do they wish to prevent others having what they own themselves? Hypocrisy or greed?

"So many local politicians play the populist campaign card without a clue of the costs of green belt land to others without housing.

"Areas such as Darlaston have had hundreds of houses built on brownfield sites. School place shortages, longer housing waiting lists, congested roads, poorer health services, resulted as the council has less money.

"Why do disadvantaged areas have to pay the social costs for middle class left-leaning residents and Tory diehards when the council is meant to provide services for all?"

Walsall Council's Labour group leader, Councillor Aftab Nawaz, is set to raise a motion at this week's full council meeting calling for a number of green belt sites to be removed from the BCP.

They include Calderfields West, Yieldsfield Farm in Bloxwich and Home Farm, Sandhills.