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Hundreds of protesters join double demo outside City Hall
6:00am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
Protesters visited City Hall in their hundreds last night to hand in petitions on two thorny issues – cuts and housebuilding.
Both matters were discussed at a heated meeting of the full Council yesterday.
Before the meeting, two separate public demonstrations were held on opposite sides of the building.
On the Hall Ings side were people fighting the loss of green belt land as part of the Council’s Local Plan – a blueprint which sets out where homes and jobs will go between now and 2030.
And in Centenary Square, Bradford College students and trade unions protested against proposed cuts to the Council’s youth service.
In the meeting, Bradford College Student Union president Piers Telemaque took to verse, saying it was unfair for young people to be punished for an economic situation which wasn’t their fault.
He said: “I’ll tell you what’s a shame. You are not old enough to vote, but you are old enough to blame.”
Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab), executive member for children’s services, said: “Is this what we came in to local government to do? This is not.”
Some councillors also spoke about the positive effect the youth service had had on their own lives.
Councillor Jackie Whiteley (Con, Wharfedale), said a local youth club had had a huge influence on her.
She said: “Who would have thought that Jackie Longfield, who was a foster child until she left home, would end up in this venerable place?”
The petition was accepted as part of the public consultation.
The Council’s Local Plan also provoked heated debate. Councillors were discussing whether to proceed with its Core Strategy, which does not yet earmark specific sites for development but sets out the overall aims and the number of homes to be built.
Protesters handed in petitions calling for the Council to think again before signing up to a plan which included releasing green belt land for development.
The Rev Canon Gordon Dey, of the Tong and Fulneck Valley Association, said green belt land should be sacrosanct.
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats also voiced their opposition.
Councillor Simon Cooke (Con) said: “Suffice it to say, I don’t believe we need to build 42,100 homes between now and 2030.”
He said he predicted only around half of these would be built by 2030, and developers would have chosen the leafier sites to build them in.
Coun Cooke called for protesters to be listened to, saying the Labour administration was “dismissing their concerns with a flick of the hand”.
But Councillor Val Slater (Lab), executive member for planning, said the district needed a Local Plan because without one, developers would be free to build where they liked.
She said: “There just isn’t enough brownfield sites to meet the projected need.”
The Labour group won the vote and the plan will now go out for a further consultation.
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