MP demands borough plan be ‘torn up’

Yvonne Fovargue MP
Yvonne Fovargue MP

A local MP has called for the controversial 20-year planning blueprint for future borough homes and businesses to be “ripped up”.

Yvonne Fovargue is the latest Labour politician to break party ranks and call for a radical re-think of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), a draft of which has already led to protests over loss of greenbelt and forecasts of traffic chaos from as far afield as Kitt Green and Mosley Common.

From the start, there has been no meaningful democratic oversight

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Wigan Council’s official line is that tough decisions have to be made in order to guarantee enough houses and places to work for future generations and, in some cases, that means sacrificing some of the area’s open spaces.

But in her regular column in our sister paper The Wigan Observer this week, the member for Makerfield said there should be a return to the drawing board. She was echoing sentiments of Leigh MP and Greater Manchester mayoral candidate Andy Burnham. And there was further criticism today from Wigan MP Lisa Nandy who felt public opinion was largely being bypassed.

Ms Fovargue said: “If you wanted to bring people and communities together in opposition to build homes and identify land for employment for the next three decades then the current consultation on the GMSF is guilty as charged.

“From the start, there has been no meaningful democratic oversight. Elected councillors across Greater Manchester have been bypassed and the public have rightly responded with a mixture of anger and frustration at an engineered top down process that has all the hallmarks of a ‘we know best’ mentality.”

Ms Nandy said: “This is another example of a missed opportunity to give people a chance to shape decisions that will have a big impact on their lives. It seems most of the big decisions have already been made before the public are aware of what’s happening and have had a chance to influence the process.”

But council deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “It is a major opportunity for the borough. This long-term plan will set out where we can locate sought-after employment land up to 2035 that will deliver thousands of jobs as well as much-needed homes particularly for the younger generation. That is why we must take the decisions to provide opportunities for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”