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Minister ‘will decide on green belt plan’

CABINET minister Eric Pickles has stepped into a row over plans to develop green-belt land in Meriden.

CABINET minister Eric Pickles has stepped into a row over plans to develop green-belt land in Meriden.

The Local Government Secretary has announced that he will make the final decision about whether a caravan site should be built in Eaves Green Lane.

Arguments for and against the scheme will still have to be put forward at a public inquiry later this year.

But the planning inspector will only make a recommendation, which the Secretary of State might choose to over-rule.

Only a handful of cases are directly decided by a minster and many see the Meriden battle as an important “test case”.

Villagers, who have been running a 24-hour vigil since May, are delighted by the news.

David McGrath, of Residents Against Inappropriate Development, said: “This gives everyone the chance to give the case the fullest possible scrutiny.

“A decision can be taken in the light of the sea change in planning law which the new coalition government wants to bring in.”

Last week, Mr McGrath and other residents had taken the fight to Strasbourg - protesting at the European Court of Human Rights.

The group had been invited by MEP Nikki Sinclaire and were raising awareness about the damage to green belt and human rights.

But the group has accused officials of using “heavy-handed” tactics, claiming they were treated like terrorists.

“What we found was an unwelcome reaction to our arrival, we were blocked at the gates by French police and security staff, made to remove banners and t-shirts and were followed around the building,” said Mr McGrath.

Ms Sinclaire said she had been “disgusted” by the way the protesters were treated.

 

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