I would like to reassure Councillor Marie Brady and fellow members of Horwich and Blackrod First Independents that their concerns about our Call In at the Deputy Leader’s portfolio meeting on September 23 are unfounded.

It is our intent that the allocation of £100,000 of the proceeds of the sale of Pickups Field to the Horwich Town Centre Regeneration Steering Group should go ahead.

Our concern (and the reason for the Call In) was that it appears that a new policy is being developed without any discussion – bribing local groups to allow land to be taken for housing against local opposition.

Pickups Field is a special case, having been put into the allocations plan by the previous Labour Administration, but there are strong hints in the report that this approach will be used in other cases. The reaction of the Labour representative at the meeting (who argued for an even larger payment) only added to the concerns.

It seems that the Conservatives believe that throwing money around will placate those who oppose building on playing fields and protected open land.

It will not work with the Liberal Democrats. We believe strongly in defending our open land from development and will not be swayed by such tactics. I assume (and hope) that Councillor Brady and her supporters will take the same view.

Cllr Roger Hayes