Following recent obscure White Paper publications, John Baron MP has criticised Government plans to increase the number of houses that councils will be forced to build and to limit the power of councils to block the building of incinerators and sewage plants. He has also attacked the Government’s record on social housing.
A series of recent obscure White Papers and announcements show the Government’s Housing policy is in a mess. We need more houses across the region, but forcing ever higher house-building targets on local councils and communities is not the way to do it. This policy can only put pressure on our already-overstretched public services, and it will also threaten our greenbelt and the environmental protection which this provides.
It is also undemocratic – local residents should decide the type and extent of new development, not politicians sitting in London. I don’t buy the Government line that local communities cannot be trusted to make these decisions.
Meanwhile, an obscure White Paper has revealed that Gordon Brown is planning to strip local communities of their say over incinerators, rubbish dumps, and sewage plants. The Government has sided with large developers, rather than the people. These decisions will now be made by a new central Government quango, which will be unsackable and unaccountable. So much for a more ‘open’ style of politics.
Evidence that the Government’s housing policy is in a shambles is its record on social housing. Less social housing has been built in every year under the Labour Government since 1997 than in any year under the last Conservative Government. I have asked the Housing Minister what she intends to do to put this right. Once again, Government action has not matched its spin.
John has written to the Government asking for answers to these points.