A ROW has broken out after Labour claimed the green belt was not safe in Conservative hands.

Cllr Justin Madders, Labour opposition leader on Cheshire West and Chester Council, claimed Tory councillors at the Local Development Framework meeting had voted to miss out several stages of consultation on the future of the Chester’s green belt.

But the claim has denied by the Conservative administration.

Cllr Madders cited a recent vote at the strategic planning committee on the proposed student village on green belt between Blacon and Mollington where the Tories all voted in favour except for chairman Myles Hogg.

He said: “The student village vote showed most Tories can’t be trusted to defend the green belt.

“Their decision to curtail the consultation process on its future shows they are hell bent on concreting over the countryside.”

But council leader Mike Jones, who is on record as saying there is ‘insufficient brownfield land’ for new housing, said in a statement: “It is incorrect to suggest several stages of consultation with local communities were being missed out.

“The council promised further site specific consultation on any proposed change to the green belt boundary in the spring – and that’s what is still intended.

“At the same time, there will be consultation on a full draft plan so everyone will be able to see how any proposal to change the greenbelt fits into the overall draft planning strategy for the borough.”

Involvement of local residents in shaping the Local Plan will not end with the spring consultation. Submission of the draft plan for public examination will follow.