A COVENTRY councillor has called on local MP Jim Cunningham to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ and urge Labour councillors not to sell Green Belt land for development.
Councillor Allan Andrews, deputy leader of the Coventry Conservatives and ward councillor for Earlsdon, is urging the Coventry South MP to use his influence over local Labour councillors to convince them not to sell Green Belt land off Kings Hill Lane to Warwick District Council.
Coun Andrews’ comments follow Mr Cunningham’s branding of Warwick District Council’s plans to build more than 4,000 homes near Finham as ‘audacious and disgraceful’.
But, the land in question – off King’s Hill Lane and right on the Coventry-Warwickshire border – is actually owned by Coventry City Council.
This means ruling Labour councillors could prevent development on the land by simply not selling it to neighbouring Warwick District Council – a fact Mr Cunningham did not point to in his scathing remarks.
Mr Andrews said: “When I heard Jim’s comments – a man who I respect a lot – I thought he would go on to lobby the council not to sell the land.
“But the fact he does not seem to want to do that makes it seem that he is happy to attack the Conservative-run Warwick District Council, but is not willing to look at his own Labour-led council.
“I would urge him to use his influence over the local party not to sell the precious Green Belt land land, because if they refused to sell it the development would simply not be able to go ahead.”
A spokesperson for Mr Cunningham said while he had written a letter to Coventry City Council asking for Brownfield sites across the city to be used instead of Green Belt land – like that at the King’s Hill site – the MP believed the decision ‘ultimately belongs to the council’.
They added Mr Cunningham noted the proposals were still subject to a six-week long consultation by WDP and had yet to be confirmed.
But Coun Andrews said it is not good enough and encouraged the MP to engage in ‘meaningful and constructive’ dialogue with his Labour Party colleagues.
He added: “For Jim to speak publically on a matter which affects the people he represents in parliament, but then not take real action on it is not fair.
“It is incumbent upon Mr Cunningham to have real discussions with the Labour councillors and stop this development in its tracks.
“Selling this land would set further precedent that Coventry council shuts down meaningful consultation on planning matters like this and feeds into a growing view that city councillors are not working for their residents or listening to their concerns.
“Mr Cunningham has raised the alarm, which the Coventry Tories welcome and we would happily join him in lobbying for this land to not be sold.
“I only hope Mr Cunningham will not play party politics with an issue which affects thousands of people across Coventry.”