Letter: Council's lack of openness and transparency
Date published: 13 April 2018
Green belt from the GMSF
It's quite shocking to see how the elected officials in Rochdale impose their desires on the community they are supposed to represent. They seemingly try to publicise their plans by means that most people in the community won't hear about.
Here we have a great example.
Rochdale Council having drawn up their plans for the green belt fail to include such plans in their own development plan that is scrutinised by the National Inspectorate. Instead they slip their plans to the GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) to show how the green belt is now and how they envisage it will look in the future, perhaps hoping the public won't notice.
Take a look, you can replicate and verify for yourself.
Click on 'Planning and Development'.
Then tick 'existing green belt' to see what is.
Then untick 'existing green belt' and tick 'proposed green belt' to see what they think it should be.
It doesn't take much scrutiny to see that huge parcels of green belt are slated for development.
Middleton is set to have no green belt buffer to Rochdale. Heywood's green belt is going to shrink to merge with Prestwich (which is also going to merge with Middleton) whilst Rochdale itself is protected by a green belt ring.
To those living in Rochdale, this might seem like good news but I'm afraid that's short sighted. Today they want to grab the green belt around Middleton and Heywood, but they have their eyes on any green belt that can make money, and you can bet your last penny they already have plans for plenty of green belt around Rochdale.
The point here though isn't about the loss of green belt, sad and bad as this is, but rather the fact the Rochdale Council is actively seeking to drastically change the borough's environment without the electorate knowing or getting a say. It's simply not enough to publish with the GMCA or in documents hidden in the bowels of the council website.
They should be open, honest and public in these matters. In fact, the only fair way they could do this now is by taking out adverts in all the local papers with the truth of their intentions, perhaps best entitled:
'The great Rochdale green belt giveaway'
Then they can make their case about how great it will be for Rochdale revenues, income into the area and most importantly for our councillors how it will increase budgets for councillors’ foreign trips, car parking, coffee making machines and all kinds of other essential measures for the comfort and benefit of councillors!
Better yet, why not start an 'ethical' campaign for honesty in council plans and let the electorate have a voice?
Now there's a novel idea that's even got a name:
The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Rochdale Online.