LABOUR leaders staged an ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ walkout at a town hall meeting after Conservative councillors sought to prevent a vote on protecting greenbelt land in Flixton.

The ruling Tory group was urged to review proposals to build on Flixton’s Green Belt and to withdraw their support for any and all building on the William Wroe site at last night’s full Trafford Council meeting.

Conservatives refused a vote on the motion and said they needed to defuse the issue, instead moving an amendment which asked Labour councillors to develop further thinking before determining whether it would support final proposals when finished in June 2018.

Leader of Trafford Council, Cllr Sean Anstee, said he recognised the land as a community asset.

He said: “I made a commitment to find a way to meet the housing need but also protect as much green space as possible – to do this we need to work together with the local community and no other council is engaging with its local community like we are in Trafford.

“Council recognises that the unaffordable of housing in Trafford is a crisis that cannot continue to be ignored and will require decisive action to resolve.

“The council is concerned that the labour party have not set out how it would meet the housing challenge which puts at risk all land across the borough”

Leader of Labour Group, Cllr Andrew Western, questioned the validity of the amendment and asked for legal advice from the council's monitoring officer, who adjourned the meeting and later explained that the amendment simply changed the emphasis of the motion but did not negate it.

Cllr Catherine Hynes seconded the Labour motion before the party took the decision to vacate the hall.

She said: “People are telling us not to build on their land and we must act on their behalf – I have lived in Flixton all life, I know what means to people and what has meant for generations - this is a much loved, well used, recreational space – it is the wrong proposal in the wrong place and not in best interest of local people.”

She added that the best option for these homes should be on Timperley Wedge.

The solution put forward by Labour councillors was questioned by Cllr Alex Williams.

He said: “There is already allocation of 3,300 at Timperley Wedge that are appropriate density to pass inspection – Labour are offering solution that doesn’t exist – we can’t build more houses that will not pass inspection. If Labour had sense to stay in the chamber and engage in argument to tell the truth to the people of Trafford – where would we put these houses?”

After a vote, most were in favour of the vote and the motion was carried.

Cllr Jane Brophy spoke on behalf of Trafford Lib Dem’s, who opposed the amendment.

She said: “After discussing the amendment as a group we reiterate the view that we wish to protect the Flixton Green Belt and oppose to building on there.

“Brownfield sites should be used first, and green land should only be used as a last resort. We support creative solutions for housing but do not support building on Flixton Green Belt of Timperley Wedge.”

After the meeting, Labour accused the Tories of ‘stifling debate’.

A post on Labour’s Facebook page said: “At this evening's Council meeting Trafford's Labour councillors took the extraordinary and unprecedented step of vacating the Council chamber mid-meeting.

“During the course of debating a Labour motion opposing all development of green-belt land in Flixton, Conservative councillors sought to prevent a vote on this motion by moving an amendment which Labour councillors felt was directly contrary to the spirit of the original motion.

“Negation of a motion is explicitly disallowed by the Council's constitution and, as you would expect, Labour councillors immediately sought a legal ruling from the Council's Monitoring Officer as to the validity of the amendment. In an incredibly unusual step, the Monitoring Officer was unable to make a ruling and the meeting was adjourned.

“Labour councillors were unable to have confidence in the legal determination that was then made, and felt the democratic process was being undermined. We remain of the view that a decisive vote on whether to allow house building on Flixton's green-belt should have been permitted. As a result, we felt we had no option other than to leave the meeting.

“As Labour councillors in Trafford we take our responsibilities extremely seriously, and are very disappointed that the Conservatives sought to stifle debate and prevent a vote on such an important issue. Throughout the debate Conservative councillors repeatedly insisted that no vote on the motion would be allowed. We remain absolutely committed to the fight to save Flixton's green-belt and will continue to support and represent residents in their fight to save this precious land.”