Tories in bid to protect Redbridge green belt accidentally vote through Labour amendment
PUBLISHED: 15:30 27 March 2019
Redbridge’s Conservative group was left red-faced after accidentally voting through a Labour amendment to their bid to protect the borough’s green belt from development.
Group leader Cllr Linda Huggett put forward a motion calling for the local authority to “keep the existing green belt boundaries, as set out in the Redbridge Local Plan 2015/30 until 2030” at the full council meeting in Redbridge Town Hall on Thursday, March 21.
But Labour Cllr Sheila Bain, cabinet member for planning and planning enforcement, tabled a caveat to the motion allowing development on the green belt if “exceptional circumstances arise, or very special circumstances can be evidenced”.
A vote on this amendment was backed by all 45 Labour members in attendance, with the 12-strong Conservative group voting against.
Councillors then had a lengthy debate on the Tories’ now-amended motion before holding a second “substantive” vote.
Opposition councillors cheered as the live voter display turned green – indicating the motion had unanimous support.
But the elation was quickly replaced with confusion over whether they were voting on their original motion or the amended one.
“It was on the substantive motion as amended,” Mayor Debbie Kaur-Thiara clarified.
Cllr Huggett said: “If that was the vote, then I would like to take the vote again.”
Cllr Kaur-Thiara simply responded: “No.”
This debate came as more than 1,800 people have signed a petition to prevent the proposed relocation of three iconic London markets to green belt land on Fairlop Plain.
Councillor Howard Berlin (Con, Fairlop) told the chamber that the protection of the green belt historically had “cross party support” across Labour and Conservative governments.
“We should be protecting our green belt,” he said.
“One of [council leader Jas Athwal’s] legacies could be the destruction of the Redbridge green belt.”
Cllr Berlin highlighted that he had written two reviews of the Redbridge green belt and insisted that the Labour administration is going against government policy.
“It is disappointing that Cllr Berlin cannot agree with the wording,” Cllr Athwal responded.
“The wording comes straight from the national planning policy framework.”
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