Campaigners hoping to protect green open spaces in Toothill are disappointed a motion to prevent sale and development was “watered down” in council.

After residents in the west Swindon suburb collected a petition of more than 500 signatures, a motion was put to Swindon Borough’s full council meeting by Mannington and Western Labour councillor Stephanie Exell, which said all green spaces in the district should not be offered for sale for development.

Coun Exell said: “The green spaces are crucial to the residents. Selling them off is about plugging a gaping hole in the councils’ finances - it’s a desperate measure to increase revenue.”

But Coun Russell Holland, the Conservative administration’s deputy leader, and cabinet member for finance spoke in favour of an amendment to the motion.

He said: “

It would be very easy to say things in this chamber which get applause and we could say we’ll protect these areas. But there will always be an objection to development, we all live in houses which somebody probably objected to.”

The amended motion replaced the lines about taking out areas in Toothill from the housing land assessment with: “This council recognises a need for additional housing but respects the rights of ward councillors to make representations concerning any proposed development in their ward” and it said the petition should be “taken into account” when making a decision about a green space off Bodiam Drive.

Coun Exell said: “It was a bitter disappointment for the hundreds of Toothill residents who signed the petition when all the Conservative councillors voted against protecting their much-loved open spaces. Now it is a case of not if, but when they are sold.

“It appears that no open space in Toothill is safe, even those that have been removed from the housing land assessment. A list of sites being proposed for sale under the commercial housing programme is not available to councillors, so the first we know about sites being sold in their ward is a week from the decision being made.”

Coun Russell Holland said the Labour group were just "scaremongering" and added: "Ive made it very clear that no decision has been made on the spaces in Toothill.

"The petition will be taken into account and any development proposal will have to be approved by the planning committee, so residents will have ample opportunity to have their say."