POLITICIANS hoping to oust Castle Point MP Bob Spink have branded his new political party foolish and ineffective at protecting the borough’s green belt.

Conservative candidate Rebecca Harris and Labour man Julian Ware-Lane are both hoping to win Dr Spink’s seat at the forthcoming general election.

Last week, Dr Spink launched the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party and announced plans to field eight candidates in the borough council elections.

The party promises to protect Castle Point’s green belt.

But Mrs Harris said even if the party did win local council seats, its members could not guarantee green belt land will be preseved.

Under current law, if the council has not demonstrated a big enough supply of land to meet housing targets over the next five years, developers are likely to win an appeal to build on the green belt.

Mrs Harris said: “Local councillors can’t change national planning law and if they think they can, they’re fooling themselves. If they know they can’t, they’re fooling the electorate by claiming they can.”

The Government has set Castle Point Council a target of finding land for 5,000 new homes in the borough by 2026.

Mrs Harris added: “The whole concept of targets must go. We will abolish them and leave it up to local people to decide what housing they want and where.

“Councils can alter their local plans and remove sites provided they haven’t already got planning permission.”

In total 400 homes are planned for Canvey’s green belt, while land near to The Chase, Thundersley, has been earmarked for up to 300 homes under the council’s core strategy or local plan, which sets out how to meet the housing targets.

Mr Ware-Lane said: “It’s wrong to claim the green belt is under threat because of Labour party policy. I don’t think the core strategy is good enough. We believe there are enough brownfield sites to meet the target.

“Scrapping housing targets would deal a real blow to all those people who want to buy a house but can’t afford it.”

However, Mr Ware-Lane agrees a vote for the new party would be wasted.

He added: “It is a fringe party. If you want a bigger say in what’s going on locally you need an MP who’s speaking for either the party in Government or the main opposition.”