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Westminster Column

I returned at the weekend from my annual week in Rwanda working on the Conservative International Development Social Action Project, Project Umibano, to hear the positive news about the protest walk being organised by campaign group Project Fields, supported by local Conservative Councillors and concerned residents in Royal Sutton Coldfield, on the issue of protecting our Green Belt following the successful walk we undertook in January.

However, the news that almost 6000 letters of protest and constructive comment on the Birmingham Development Plan have been virtually ignored by our Labour Council, is extremely worrying considering that the consultation process is supposed to lead to the Plan reflecting local opinion and local feeling. This has clearly not happened in this case with the Council stating that it “has considered all of these responses and has concluded that no major modifications to the Plan are required”.

Everyone in Sutton Coldfield should feel extremely let down by the way in which Birmingham City Council has handled this despite the valiant efforts of our Councillors in leading from the front to change matters.

Thinking back to the public meetings held on the Green Belt in January and February, whilst the Council held what we thought was a Consultation to listen to our voice of opposition, I remember the packed halls at St John’s Church in Walmley and All Saints’ Church where Suttonians braved the elements to be present and have their voices heard. Old and young alike helped one another to write letters, organised support groups to help those trying to navigate the Council’s website and joined together to oppose the plans. The level of unity in opposition and community spirit displayed on those evenings was a proud sight to behold. To have the efforts of so many ignored bar a few word changes is greatly disheartening.

The Council has now submitted its plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government responsible for planning. From this there will be a Public Inquiry and I can assure you that your local Councillors and I will be vigorously representing our constituents concerns and interests in Royal Sutton Coldfield.

Copies of the Plan, the Proposed Modifications, the Submission Policies Map, the Submission Sustainability Assessment and the Consultation Statement may be inspected at the Council Offices at 1 Lancaster Circus in the City Centre and in all libraries and neighbourhood offices during normal opening hours.

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Project Umubano

Rwanda Social Action Project

Click on image to download the Kigali Declaration and the 10 Year Report.