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Menston residents take to street for protest over greenbelt
Protesters visited Bradford’s City Hall in their hundreds this week to hand in petitions on two thorny issues – cuts to youth services and housebuilding on the district’s greenbelt.
Both matters were discussed at a heated meeting of the full Bradford Council.
Before the meeting, two separate public demonstrations were held on opposite sides of the building.
On the Hall Ings side were people fighting the loss of green belt land as part of the Council’s Local Plan – a blueprint which sets out where homes and jobs will go between now and 2030.
And in Centenary Square, students and trade unions protested against proposed cuts to the council’s youth service.
In the meeting councillors spoke about the positive effect the youth service had had on their own lives.
Councillor Jackie Whiteley (Con, Wharfedale), said: “It’s my birthday today and at my age I think I can allow myself a moment to reflect on my life and the important influences and opportunities that have led to me to be the person I am today.
“Who would have thought Jackie Longfield, who was a foster child until she left home, would end up in this venerable place?
“One of the most important influences on me was my local Youth Club where I socialised and learnt how to deal with the opposite sex. I even played sport.
“We also went on organised outings, sometimes to the theatre, we didn’t do that at home and the youth club filled a very important gap for me. Arguably, it got me through my adolescence.
“ I am sure that the Youth Service today provides all of this and much more.
“This is a well-used and valued service and you have asked the people of Bradford where money should be spent and saved. I think you have your answer if 15,000 people have signed a petition on this subject.”
The petition was accepted as part of the public consultation.
The Council’s Local Plan also provoked heated debate.
Councillors were discussing whether to proceed with its Core Strategy, which does not yet earmark specific sites for development but sets out the overall aims and the number of homes to be built.
A leading campaigner against green belt housing development in Wharfedale called on Bradford Council to ‘stop giving the fox the keys to the hen house’ as he handed over a 2,000-plus signature petition.
Menston Action Group’s Dr Steve Ellams, spoke on behalf of several groups and communities in the Wharfe and Aire valleys.
He told the Council to stop the ‘rape of the countryside’ in the Bradford District and spoke out against ‘money-grabbing developers’ in his plea.
But Councillor Val Slater (Lab), executive member for planning, said the district needed a Local Plan because without one, developers would be free to build where they liked.
She said: “There just aren’t enough brownfield sites to meet the projected need.”
The Labour group won the vote and the plan will now go out for a further consultation.
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