Sunday 1 May 2016

AVBC elections May 5th ...... Cox ...... judge me on housing 2

Tories want to build on the Green Belt

The last post looking at Clr. Cox and his desire to be judged on his housing record (Cox ......... judge me on housing 1) started a train of thought about the overall record of the Tory years in charge of the borough council, the years that saw council houses being handed over to what eventually became Futures Homescape which effectively left the council powerless to intervene in what has become a housing crisis in our region. Cox's statement about being in the hands of private developers who only want to build 3 and 4 bedroom semis/detached on prime sites is evidence of that loss of control.

So I studied the annual financial reports of Futures Homescape and the later 2016 press release about their plans to build 1,000 new houses in 2020 across the East Midlands  (Futures Homescape annual report 2014/15) finding many facts that disturbed me ............ so many in fact that I started to doubt that my analysis was correct. My calculations showed an increase of debt owed to financiers on the Amber Valley ex council houses of nigh on 350%  (£28 million in 2003 to £96m in 2015) whilst the number of houses owned by Futures Homescape in Amber Valley only increased by 1.5% (5,361 in March 2003 rising to 5,719 in 2015). Surely my interpretation of the figures cannot be right. The safest course of action is to complete the analysis and then ask the housing charity to comment ............ this I will do. and will also take note of the fact that the Tory Westminster government has introduced measures to force housing associations to sell off their housing stock (see this article in the Financial Times).

The other concern was, "is it right to blame the AVBC Tories for this just because it was their decision to hand over the council houses to a housing association?" This issue demands to be
handled objectively as we are dealing with real homes occupied by real people. They deserve honesty and openness that is devoid of any political bias aimed at short term electoral advantage.

Winter Fields by Lewis Noble - Foundation House in Ripley

So where am I going with this post. Well ....... writing that last post regarding Cox and housing I just could not understand how the leader of a borough council could say one thing in May 2015, indicate the opposite only 7 months later and then compound the uncertainty by stating that green belt land is under threat (when a year before it was not). The suspicion is that these contrary statements are made for electoral advantage (well of course they are) but to state that a vote for Labour could endanger green belt land without some evidence to that fact would be mendacious (and here I am picking my words carefully as we should not suspect the leader of a borough council of being disingenuous). I naturally asked the Amber Valley Labour group for clarification and was told that the AVBC Tories had voted against the Labour motion to remove all proposed green belt housing development sites from the core strategy. This vote was held in September 2014 during the one year that Labour held control of the council and I was interested to read the comments of the then Labour deputy leader of the council:

 Clr Chris Emmas-Williams, " ............ we have followed through on our commitment not to develop on Green Belt land, which we feel is very important.”.  (you can read the full press release here on the AVBC website).

The vote was necessary because in 2012 the Tories had proposed building on two green belt sites (once again a link to the AVBC website - this time a Tory press release in 2012) with the words,  "Although this site is within the Green Belt, its development will secure a significant contribution .........................". 

Two statements just a couple of years apart. Labour voting to take housing developments on Green belt land out of the core strategy whilst Tories voted to build on Green Belt land.

Private developers take notice of all this and must obviously consider that they have more of a chance to send their JCB diggers onto the green fields that surround our towns if they are dealing with a Tory controlled council. This explains the volte-farce (yes I know it should be volte-face) of Cox. The pressures from private developers following the Tories 2012 plan are there to see in the their core strategy submissions which echoed the Tory press release on the "significant contribution" that would be made by building on this virgin land.

It is no surprise that Cox's election leaflet  does not mention the Tory record of building on Green Belt land and propagates the myth that voting Labour leads to an assault on our countryside. What matters is that voters are not given the full facts and are led to believe the opposite of the true situation. Typical Tory tactics.

Two links that are of interest:

Interactive map of the Green Belt I may have posted this before. Use the search box to refine the mp area.

Building on Green Belt land has soared over the past 5 years a BBC news article which is very disturbing.

No comments: