Protest groups join fight

Protestors against the development have criticised MP Conor McGinn

Protestors against the development have criticised MP Conor McGinn

Campaign groups battling plans for Billinge’s greenbelt land have rounded on a decision to give the controversial Florida Farm development the go-ahead.

The Rainford Action Group and Residents Against Florida Farm Development criticised the government’s decision not to “call in” the proposals to build two warehouses in Haydock.

The decision means the development can go ahead.

It will dwarf several hundred nearby houses and create further congestion on the already clogged A580 East Lancashire Road.

Groups campaigning to save green belt land in other parts of the region rallied to support Florida Farm campaigners.

James Wright, of Rainford Action Group, said: “The people of Rainford stand in solidarity with our friends in Haydock, who have led such a brilliant campaign against these plans.

“In every corner of the borough people are waking up to how this council operates and scrutinising the council’s decisions like never before.

“The democratic deficit that has led to such poor decisions being taken in St Helens will be overcome by the hard work and passion of the borough’s residents.”

John Fairclough of Residents Against the Development of Green Belt Land in Rainhill said: “This decision is a disgrace and shows St Helens Council’s contempt for residents.

“They have no idea of the health impact this will have on the entire area.

“I, along with everyone at Rainhill, feel desperately sorry for people in Haydock. But I want them to know we are with them and will continue to support them.”

Paul Parkinson, chairman of Residents Against Florida Farm Development (RAFFD), said: “We are bitterly disappointed and many hearts are broken by this decision but we will not be beaten.

“We intend to fight on.

“What this whole process shows is there are thousands of people in St Helens without a voice. The monopoly the Labour party holds on power in this borough has led senior councillors to believe they can do whatever they like.

“Anyone who opposes them is ignored.

“Our Labour MP Conor McGinn has made more public comments about pubs closing than the development plans of St Helens Council, which will affect thousands of his constituents. His silence is shameful.

“Democracy is dead in St Helens because thousands of people are effectively disenfranchised now that even the government is ignoring us.”

Campaigners from Rainford, Windle, Billinge and other affected areas of the borough joined forces to stage a ‘noisy’ protest in Victoria Square banging drums and ‘playing’ vu-vuzelas, in protest at the council’s controversial local plan.