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Campaigners in Burntwood have hit back at a councillor’s claim they are trying to shunt development into other areas of the town.
Cllr Rob Birch made the suggestion as the author of Burntwood Town Council’s formal response to the Lichfield District Council Local Plan consultation.
He suggested that the approach of Burntwood Action Group (BAG) in trying to prevent an area of farmland bring removed from the Green Belt was too focused on the areas near the homes of members.
“It is clear to the town council that many of the arguments put forward by BAG against developments in the eastern side of Burntwood are not necessarily balanced with the needs of residents in other parts of the town.
“There is an apparent push from BAG to see all development located elsewhere in Burntwood where it does not impact as significantly on those living in the area BAG members are predominantly based in the St Matthews and Church Farm Estate areas.
“This approach is biased against residents in other areas of Burntwood.”Cllr Rob Birch, Burntwood Town Council
But David Rathband, from BAG, has accused Cllr Birch of being “naive”.
“Cllr Birch stated recently that he believes Burntwood Action Group wishes to stop any development in the Coulter Lane part of Burntwood and to locate it elsewhere in the area, where it would not impact significantly those residents living in the vicinity, where he believes BAG members are predominantly based.
“This simplistic, naive comment has no basis in fact at all.
“The reality is that some of BAG’s most committed and active members live in the south western corner in Chasetown and north western areas of Burntwood.
“It is also a matter of public record that from the outset in 2009 that Burntwood Action Group has campaigned to retain all the Green Belt around Burntwood.
“In 2019 for example BAG generated 30 articles in relation to the Green Belt – eight of those were in relation to a proposed development of land around Bleak House Farm and four of those were in relation to Coulter Lane.
“BAG also publicly alerted everyone to the potential dangers to the development of farmland in 16 other parts of Burntwood and Hammerwich.
“In May last year we held a well-attended public meeting specifically in relation a potential development on Bleak House farmland.”David Rathband, Burntwood Action Group
“An ill-conceived notion”
Mr Rathband said the group intended to seek further clarification on his statement in order that residents will fully understand his view on the issue.
“BAG’s most recent campaign is in relation to Coulter Lane simply because that is the land that is currently most in danger of being removed from the Green Belt by Lichfield District Council and therefore is in the sharpest focus.
“To suggest that many hundreds of BAG members are only interested in saving this area of Green Belt is simply an ill-conceived notion.
“Cllr Birch would do well to remember that an overwhelming proportion of the population he serves want the Green Belt to be preserved.
“”Burntwood Action Group will be writing to him to ask him to expand further on his public statement that all areas will need to see their fair share of development – the public should know what areas and how many houses he has in mind.”David Rathband, Burntwood Action Group
The war of words is the latest spat between members of Burntwood Town Council and the group.
After a public meeting last month councillors called for a formal apology from a senior member of the action group over comments made.