This is a statement (dated 16/01/17) in light of recent debates on our Facebook group.
We have always stated that this group is 'non-political'. By saying this, we do not try to detach completely our campaign from politics - but we are clear we are not going to attach ourselves to any political party, or allow them to unduly attach themselves to us. It's a difficult balance but one we wish to maintain.
We have publicly praised Marple South Councillors Kenny Blair and Thomas Dowse (Conservative Party) for their work as individuals rather than their political affiliation. We are well aware some of the greenbelt concerns actually stem from Conservative Party policy at a much higher level.
However, Kenny and Tom have gone the extra mile with our campaign - for example, 'walking the walk' not just on the march but also in its organisation and preparation. It wouldn't matter if they were Monster Raving Loony Party, we would still praise them for their care and hard work for the area.
Whilst we have praised Kenny and Tom, we have also included numerous links on our main website to acknowledge the other politicians supporting us. At a glance, you will see our website has the links for Marple South Councillor Susan Ingham (Liberal Democrat), Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne (Labour) and the Stockport Green Party (who publicised the recent march). We have also acknowledged that Liberal Democrat councillors such as Laura Booth and Lisa Smart joined us on the recent march.
But to call a spade a spade, we are disappointed with the way some Liberal Democrat grassroots campaigners have repeatedly come on to this group to engage in 'point scoring' debates. Sometimes it is more open comment but often it is the posting of 'innocent' photos and links - all with a view of seemingly promoting Liberal Democrat candidates (namely Lisa Smart) whilst 'knocking spots off' Councillor Kenny Blair and Tom Dowse. We have not seen this with any other party, as it happens, but it keeps on happening with the Liberal Democrats.
An example is the repeated photos of Lisa Smart put up yesterday (15/01/2017) in the name of 'fair coverage' - whilst calling local Conservative councillors 'selfservatives' in the comments below. And in previous weeks, there has been the posting of the Manchester Gazette website, which is presented as a newspaper (like the MEN or Stockport Express) but is a specifically Liberal Democrat supporting 'news' website.
Our position remains - we will work with ANY politician who supports our cause, deals with us honestly and 'walks the walk'. But our Facebook group is not an open internet forum in the traditional sense - it is in many ways our 'campaign headquarters' - and we will ultimately remove (and if needs be permanently ban) those who seek to exploit and divide it for party political point scoring. We make no apology for that.
Steering Committee, Save Our Greenbelt