Savage Weather does not deter Marchers in Battle to Save Greenbelt

Despite being handicapped by the most inclement weather conditions, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, the marches yesterday in support of the Community Voice on Planning National Day of Action and encouraged by WARD were a resounding success!

In Menston, the joint WARD (Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development), Menston and Guiseley Greenbelt Protection Group rally to save Ings Fields from developers was attended by more than 100 people.  Menston and Guiseley are just two local communities where loss of greenbelt will lead to urban sprawl and loss of community identity as villages merge.  Later, members of the WARD committee left this group and moved to join a group of protesters in Ilkley at the Cow and Calf Rocks.

Meanwhile, in Rawdon and Horsforth, and again despite foul weather conditions, over 300 placard bearing, men, women and children protesters (and dogs!) marched between 3 and 4 miles to promote awareness of the amount of greenbelt land which will be lost, again leading to urban sprawl and defeating the purpose of greenbelt, if the latest proposals for Leeds Site Allocations go ahead.

It was very gratifying to see that this group was joined by Stuart Andrew, who has represented the area for the last 5 years as MP for the Pudsey constituency and is now a candidate for re-election on May 7th.  Over the past 5 years Stuart, together with his colleagues Greg Mulholland and Philip Davies, have been fully committed supporters of WARD’s campaign to save our greenbelt and resist unsustainable development.  Only one other candidate, Roger Tattersall, completed the march;  and one more, Jamie Hanley, was seen attending but sadly did not complete the march in support of the Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group.  Other protesters included:  LCC Councillors Paul Wadsworth (Guiseley & Rawdon), Dawn Collins, Brian Cleasby and Chris Townsley (Horsforth).  Town and Parish councillors also marched, as did Horsforth Town Council Chairman and LCC candidate on May 7th, Martin Hughes, and the entire Rawdon Parish Council.

Joint co-founders of Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group, Briony Sloan and Martin Fincham, stated this morning:

WOW !

Absolutely amazing !! We think there was upwards of 300 on the march this afternoon !

 Briony and I are so very, very grateful that so many of you turned out today despite the apalling weather conditions, and especially to our younger walkers !

 We have so many people to thank – for leafleting, catering, bun/cake-making, placard making, display-making, signs and bunting, photography, the police, and everyone else who joined and supported us today.

 We had politicians and councillors of every shade who were united in supporting the march and respected our request to avoid electioneering.

 As the rain came down, we’re sure that many of you questioned your sanity.

We are so glad that we all did it and hope that Leeds City Council finally take notice.

 We also hope that we have increased awareness on this issue in this area.

This just reflects the depth of feeling we have in Rawdon and Horsforth.

 All in all, considering the weather, this was an extremely successful day of action in strong support of the Community Voice on Planning.  www.covop.org

‘Yorkshire Post’ photographers were present as were cameras from ‘Look North’ – so hopefully we can look forward to some good publicity following these events.  Let’s also hope that the powers that be at Leeds City Council take note of our concerns and that they will, finally, revise the ridiculous 70,000 housing target in the very near future and before the Site Allocations process is concluded.  If they do not listen, it is as John Crapper from Oulton said at a meeting in Headingley two week ago,

“Putting the cart before the horse”

in other words how can you conclude the Site Allocation Process and protect greenbelt if you allocate on the basis of a high 70,000 target which is intended to be reviewed in 3 years time!!  This will only result in intensive predation of prime sites by profit seeking developers.

The target needs revision NOW!

The people have clearly demonstrated their concern over the possible loss of green belt!  Their community voice on planning must be heard!  LET’S HOPE THAT LEEDS AND BRADFORD CITY COUNCILS LISTEN!  AND THINK AGAIN!

Dr David Ingham, Chairman, WARD