Despite opposition from the Conservative Group, Liberal Democrat and Labour members voted at last night’s Ordinary Meeting to make Saddleworth Parish Council a signatory of the Bruxelles Declaration ‘Pledge for Peace’.
The Motion to accept this Bruxelles Declaration was proposed by Lib Dem Cllr Al-Hamdani, who, after standing for the Borough Council in May 2019, unsuccessfully pursued election to the EU Parliament ‘gravy train’ just a few weeks later.
All Conservative contributors to the debate on the Motion made clear that being committed to peace is important and right.
However, retiring Cllr Neil Allsopp spoke of how this Bruxelles Declaration was “not the right vehicle”. He raised concern about the mention of European treaties, ‘ever-closer union’ and a European citizenry (as opposed to British citizenry) in the Declaration, and about the materials associated with the Declaration displaying symbols of the European Union.
Of course our country, the United Kingdom, is no longer a European Union member state, and Saddleworth voted by majority for Brexit.
In addition, Cllr Allsopp had been working for many months with Churches Together in Saddleworth to develop what Cllr Luke Lancaster described as a “credible alternative” - a document which strongly supported a culture of peace, but which, in Cllr Allsopp’s words, was “Made in Saddleworth, by Saddleworth, for Saddleworth.”
Councillors John Hudson OBE and Pam Byrne had earlier spoken in the debate about how the Bruxelles Declaration had been presented to them on several occasions, and that they had been unconvinced of the practical benefits of accepting it. Cllr Jamie Curley agreed, and said that the document produced by Churches Together in Saddleworth would have allowed the Parish Council to be more proactive in promoting peace at a local level.