Parliamentary sketch – Nice answers to nasty questions
So, perhaps Cameron doesn’t love us after all?! Sniff, sniff…
But, joking aside, we all knew that the arranged marriage pronounced in the Rose Garden at No. 10 in May 2010 was only skin deep.
In Coalitions Nice Parties become tainted by those they are forced to cooperate with and Nasty Parties can detoxify themselves by association with their nicer partners. It can only last, at the most, until the next time the parties go to the polls.
To pronounce in advance of an election that you won’t do Coalition Government again is an admission of failure. The real issue is whether we can do Coalition better, without making the mistake of signing up to too much and to allow Parliamentarians to genuinely hold the Government to account.
Meanwhile, back at home, I spent much time visiting those bits of the constituency which have had lumps knocked off and which need to be put together again as soon as possible. I’ve also congratulated the entrepreneurs who’ve taken over Goonhilly Earth Station, after it was threatened by its previous owner BT, to be bulldozed into wasteland and rubble. The truly exciting opportunities for major economic and jobs growth will become a testament to the perseverance and ambition of those behind the initiative. We wish them well.
I also found myself supporting the Princess Royal – Princess Anne – this week. She had argued against large-scale housing developments and new towns and, instead, supported small developments to meet local needs on the edges of our towns and villages.
I used to do this kind of work before I was elected; small developments of 5-15 (genuinely) affordable homes to meet demonstrable local need in perpetuity on the edges of local towns and villages.
Perhaps the ‘garden city’ approach works in other parts of the country? But the large scale swamping approach has failed in places like Cornwall. Turning Cornwall into a developers’ paradise is part of the problem not the solution to meeting our desperate local housing need. Cornwall is one of the fastest growing places in the UK – more than doubled its housing stock in the last 40 years – yet the housing problems of locals have got significantly worse.
The planning system is fuelled by greed rather than by need. The ‘developers’ paradise’ approach adopted by successive Governments over the past five decades has fuelled £multi-million ‘hope’ values on all potential development land and a ‘get-rich-quick-and-blow-the-consequences’ attitude which leaves a legacy of shoddy development, poor infrastructure and service planning and local working families on long waiting lists with little hope of ever getting a decent settled home of their own.
It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to meet local housing need is, first, to stop development; and to only allow developments on the edges of our smaller towns and villages which meet local need, and in perpetuity. (Landowners and property speculators would have to forgo their megabucks as sites would sell for small multiples of agricultural value rather than the ‘Lottery wins’ which Planning Authorities allow speculators to trouser every time they connive to secure a major planning permission.)
The system known colloquially as planning ‘exceptions’ should be expanded and strengthened, not weakened and undermined as it has been. That way, what the Princess Royal rightly calls for could be achieved. Well planned, well designed and much needed decent homes for those in greatest need and with the strongest claim; rather than developments which seem to have swelled the numbers of second and investment homes. These ‘local need only’ developments would help our communities survive and provide decent affordable homes for local working families.
Do you think Princess Anne will explain this to Prince Charles? He has a lot of land which could be used in this way…
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
25th February 2014