Protection of the Green Belt

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...next time you are stuck in one of those inching lava flows of red tail- lights... Kate Barker..has come up with a proposal..to release some Green Belt land for development, starting with the grottier bits, then the cost of housing would go down... Do we really need these new buildings all over the Green Belt in the South-east? ..Is that really the objective of government - to maximise revenue, and wreck rural England?
The green way to save our Green Belt You know that feeling you get when you are in a traffic jam, and you have been stuck there for about two hours, and you know that your children are once again going to bed without their bed-time story; and there is a sudden Incredible Hulk-style transformation in your metabolism, and your eyes roll, and you gibber and you chew your tie and rend your shirt and have fantasies of simply pulling over on to the hard shoulder and abandoning the vehicle and making a new life as a stress therapist. Have you ever had that? I was once driving an old Peugeot, and after I realised that I had been stationed next to the same pointless traffic cone for about 20 minutes I started rocking in my seat and shaking the steering wheel until it suddenly bent like a pretzel, which was faintly embarrassing since it was someone else's car. And I think of myself as a man of fairly equable temper. Next time you are stuck in one of those inching lava flows of red tail-lights, think of what it must be like for people without the natural stoicism and self-discipline of Telegraph readers: think of the wails, the blubbering, the bust blood vessels. Think what is happening to our national quality of life. In the words of that despairing piece of graffiti by the side of the M40, "Why do we do this every day?" The answer is that we have no choice. We know that the traffic is getting worse every year; we know that the number of cars on the roads has doubled in the past 20 years. But what else can we do? The cost of a 40-mile round trip by rail seems to be more than a week's holiday in Barbados. We have to make these appalling and life-shortening journeys because we simply can't afford to live any nearer our work. And why can't we afford to live nearer our work? Well, the economist Kate Barker has looked at the map, and she has seen what she thinks is the problem. Around every big urban development in this country there is this thing called the Green Belt. Beyond the Green Belt are smaller towns inhabited by commuters, and every morning these poor saps get in their cars and queue to pass through these sacred green reservations to their jobs in the cities, and every evening they return through the narrow tarmac defiles, sweating and swearing and degrading the atmosphere with their oaths and their carbon emissions. So Kate has looked at the map, and she has come up with the obvious answer. If only we could release some of this land for development, starting with the grottier bits, then the cost of housing would go down! And people would have shorter journeys to work! And we would produce less CO2! So let's go really green, says Kate, and destroy the Green Belt. Well, I don't need to rehearse all the objections, but we all know that if Barker's suggestions were taken to their logical conclusion they would amount to the biggest change to the British landscape since the enclosures. If she gets her way, future generations will look down on the South-east - as they flee, for the last time, from Gatwick - and see a kind of Mexico City. In days to come the name Barker will rank in the architectural lexicon with terms like Georgian or Victorian. "An attractive Barker terrace", the estate agents will say; or "a chance to buy in the heart of this traditional ribbon-development Barker village"; and Berkshire might as well be renamed Barkshire. The trouble with her proposal to develop the less idyllic pieces of the Green Belt is that one man's pylon-infested dump is another man's rural dream; and no sooner do the Barker homes march on to the pylon-infested dump than the developers start looking greedily at the really green spaces nearby, and soon big yellow machines are slicing up the fields and linking one village with the next. Of course she is right that we need more housing. Every MP knows the misery of those who are stuck in inadequate council accommodation. But do we really need these new buildings all over the Green Belt in the South-east? Have we exhausted the potential of brown-field sites? Above all, the whole business is so deeply anti-democratic. What is the point of having locally elected politicians, determined to do the best for their voters, if their opinions can be simply crushed? These are precisely the questions that people care about with the deepest feeling, because it is a very ancient human instinct to want to see fields and trees and sky, and we don't want to wake up and find we are in a Barker-devised suburbia imposed either by the quangocrats in the regional authorities or by this sinister new Independent Planning Office. I'd still like to know why the Government is determined to knock down houses in the North, and force houses on the South, and I still suspect that it is because they are only interested in money. The South-east is the great tax generator, and the more it looks like Hong Kong the more money flows into the Treasury. Is that really what life is about? Is that really the objective of government - to maximise revenue, and wreck rural England? I'd like someone to explain why it is so unthinkable for those who can't afford housing in the South to look for somewhere in the North; and if you object that the jobs are all in the South, and that we would simply be worsening the dreadful transport problem with which we began, then I have a partial solution. If it is true that we have people stuck in traffic because they can't afford to move, and if the Government really wants to bring down the cost of housing, then there is another option. If Gordon Brown wasn't charging such extortionate sums for each property transaction, houses would be cheaper and people would find it easier to live near their work. It's green, it's clean, and it might even be fiscally neutral, since the number of transactions would go up. Come on, Gordon. Why not cut stamp duty, making housing cheaper in the South-east, and easing our motorway madness?

112 thoughts on “Protection of the Green Belt”

  1. House price inflation is running at 10% per year, and the top rate of stamp duty is only 4%. Even abolishing stamp duty altogether would scarcely dent the cost of buying a house in the South. More likely, it would stoke up the market even further, quickly wiping out any reductions.

    A more effective way of addressing the commuting problem would be to encourage more employers to trust their people to work at home, saving wasted travel time and stress, and often enabling them to work more efficiently without distraction.

  2. Maybe cheaper public transport would help too. In some parts of England it is possible to get to London in an hour by train, but costs fifty pounds a day which is not feasible for most people. If it was cheaper more people would use it and living away from ones place of work would not be such a problem. I do not see how building more houses in greenbelt areas will really help the problem.

    As we have been talking about in the forum, the cost of living in London at the moment is too much for most people. It is a sad reflection on Labour that people with good jobs áre reduced to living in youth hostels. Perhaps one way is to make the use of shared ownership apartments more widespread because at the moment it seems that full ownership is impossible for many.

  3. The trouble is, dear Boris, is that I don’t want to live in a brown field. I understand that you live in a large and pleasant house in Henley. But apparently you would prefer to deny this to others, despite the obvious benefits to the inhabitants, that you yourself enjoy.

    I do not want to raise my family in some inner-city hellhole. Britain needs more family homes, not inner-city flats. There are plenty of dull fields around the M25, which could easily be turned into housing without any major effect on Britain.

    Do we really want people to have to live in pokey city-centre accommodation with a 15 foot garden? Are people brought up in this environment more or less likely to get into crime and poor education than village dwellers?

  4. badly informed boy – welcome and I think your suggestion of working from home an excellent one.

    k – once again spot on: public transport to London? Don’t get me started!! I am SO annoyed at my experience: Firstly on the way down there were at least 5 first class carriages with at most a dozen people whilst the other 99% of people had to cram in like sardines and stand. It costs no more to put two first class and 8 standard coaches, thus satisfying the expectation of ALL passengers. This is just bad management. THEN I was NOT told of any time restrictions to my ticket and refused admission to a train and told to wait 3 hours with a small child whilst my other childs care would run out well before. Another ticket had to be purchased for me to travel, they would allow no other option, so I now have an unused ticket!

    I have nothing good to say about my experience of rail travel except the excellent company. I will drive in future – it’s cheaper, quicker and far less stressful.

    Huge thanks must go to Mr Royston – a tall, dark, handsome knight in shining armour who came to my rescue. And of course the wonderful friend who allowed me to get home to my waiting child. My sincere gratitude.

  5. I live in Surrey and I don’t really want any more development around me. I value the greenery more than the extra houses. But the increasing demand and the scarcity of housing is driving prices up and up. This isn’t a problem for me, because if I move within the area the price difference is relative, but it makes the area inaccessible for many.

    Boris is right that we need a solution to this dilemma, but telling people to move up north is not the answer.
    Nor is reducing stamp duty (although this would be nice). The continued demand and lack of supply might well equalise prices back to their original level.

    The fact is that people want to live in the South East, and I don’t imagine they’d like the government strong-arming them into moving elsewhere. We undoubtedly need more houses but dumping them in a brownfield site in Derbyshire is not going to prompt a massive exodus from London.

    The answer is to make other parts of the country more attractive, and price is the fairest means of doing this. If we build more houses around London, more people will move there, which will lead to greater provincial decline, and will destroy the Green Belt. If we don’t build more houses, then the population will find its own level. The people who live there will have weighed the cost and inconvenience of living in the South East against its advantages and decided that it’s all worth it. Those who made the same cost-benefit analysis and thought otherwise would move up north, which would become an increasingly attractive alternative, promoting its own regeneration.

    Of course, as someone born and bred in the South East, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I understand its attractiveness and would still like to see more accommodation built in and around London. We just need to be sensitive about how we go about it, or we’ll end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  6. Making houses cheaper in the South East will not solve the problem of overcrowding here, Boris.

    This overcrowding is the real cause of the collapse of the South East’s road, rail, housing, water, sewerage, education, NHS, employment and economic infrastructure and so much else besides.

    We cannot go on squeezing too many people into too little space in the SE, where we already have one of population densities in Europe – or is it the world? Need to check.

    Look at the latest BBC Have Your Say discussion on the proposal for road charging to ease congestion. A substantial number of more than 5000 very angry people who responded said that we need proper management of the level of migration to the UK. This is surely a particularly pressing need for the South East.

    I’m sure I read that this level of population density reduces our life expectancy. Loss of countryside will certainly damage our quality of life.

    It’s time for our greedy and power mad politicians to wake up. The majority of us in the South East have had enough of being used as a development dumping ground as some bizarre punishment by Blair/Brown and Two Jags for voting Conservative.

    Relocate your insane levels of development elsewhere, please, policitians, or come and live in the midst of the worst of it, all of you – on average wages.

  7. I’ve just checked wikipedia and UK is there said to have one of the highest population densities in the world.

  8. 2 ideas, both of which are likely to be very unpopular.

    How about restricting home ownership?

    Allow people to own one home only. This will reduce the costs of home ownership outside London (as second homes are sold up)and force up the prices of houses in London. Watch Londoners head for the rest of the country as their second homes, they realise, are what keep them sane.

    How about restricting home ownership to British residents (or British tax payers)?

    I would dearly love to see figures which give an indication of the amount of property owned and not occupied by non-British residents. My suspiscion given my recent living in W1 is that it must be quite high. W1 not representative, of course, but is it indicative of a trend?

  9. “I’d like someone to explain why it is so unthinkable for those who can’t afford housing in the South to look for somewhere in the North”
    Good idea Boris. I think we should encourage any southern poor folks to look for more suitable shelter up north. It would ease the congestion on the M40 and my new BMW X5 would be able to scoot between the Oxfordshire pile and my pad in W11 so much quicker. The Chilterns would be so much less cluttered if we removed all the chavs in affordable housing. Poor people are grim, it’s grim up north, great solution all round.

  10. Flo – I was talking to a Senior Policy Advisor from the Commision for Racial Equality yesterday who has recently been dealing with the problem of immigration. After hearing his comments I’m sure he would agree with your point about infrastructure (which I also made). He voiced his concern about a sort of shadow population that are lured to Britain on false promises only to be exploited, but how can that be controlled without proper immigration control? I understand he is pressing the Labour party to address this issue most urgently.

  11. Flo:
    England (not the UK) has the second highest population density in Europe, after Belgium I believe. The trouble is that all the main political parties are in denial about the dreadful social problems that the overpopulation is causing. They say “but the high population increases the GNP”. True, but my quality of life is not affected by the GNP. Perhaps a measurement (perhaps it already exists) of GNP divided by the total population number is a better indication of the wealth of a nation as perceived by its inhabitants.

    And to the person earlier who mentioned Derbyshire somewhat disparagingly earlier: Keep making the disparaging comments! As a person born and bred on the edge of the Derbyshire peak district I’d like all that can be done to stop people moving to the area. House prices here are rising far too much for those of us who are looking to move house in the near future.

  12. Dammit, that was me who mentioned Derbyshire. If the truth be known, I’ve been in love with the place since I went on a field trip to the Peak District as a boy. Typical of my southern mentality that I picked a random northern county and it was a nice one. Where is rubbish that we can agree on? Stoke?

  13. Well I think we should build all over the green belt. The population is increasing through inward migration and it’s young people that suffer most from it. Being a young person I take the rather selfish view we should start paving over it, because all you oldies seem to care about are your house prices.

    I would have a bit more sympathy for your nice views out of the window if I wasn’t subjected to house price talk so often. Nearly every time I turn on the TV it’s property programs staring me in the face. Nearly very time I go down the pub with middle-aged workmates they end up talking smuggly about how they’ve made one-hundred grand sitting on their backsides in the last three years.

    When I speak to young tradesmen in Central London they are often furious that their wages are going backwards while housing gets scarcer and more expensive. They haven’t benefitted from inward migration from Eastern Europe, quite the opposite. Building all over the green belt would create more construction work for all those that have been laid off because of Eastern Europes accession to the EU and increase supply in the hosuing market.

    I also think that it’s ridiculous that people get a council tax discount for being the single occupant of a house. There should not be tax incentives for using floorspace ineffectively whilst we have a housing shortage.

    I’m sitting in my Dad’s house right now in Northumberland. It’s a nice detached 5 bedroom affair with a small garden. He’s retired now and paid off his mortgage. He worked in local government like I do, when I’m qualified my pay scale will be pretty much the same as his was.

    Even if I was fully qualified today, working for the local council up here as far ‘up North’ as you can get I would not be able to afford anything other than a one bedroomed flat in my hometown without borrowing over 3.5 time my salary, and that would be a pretty dingy flat too, not a nice new one.

    That’s how much house prices have changed in the last 25 years. Back then a professional working for the local council could afford to buy a nice detached house. Now they can afford a one-bedroom flat in Northumberland.

    I say they should build more houses, on the green belt if necessary.

  14. Well done, Jaq! Though I’m sceptical that nulab will ever manage the overcrowding, migration or infrastructure problems we have sustainably because too many of their payroll vote, among others, have vested interests in this.

    Apologies for the typos, I’m in my office, so have to bang my comments out – time to think straight

    One aspect of the infrastructure problems I neglected to mention – and should have mentioned it because it affects me directly – is flooding. I’ll have to come back to this point later.

  15. Chris Morris, thank you for your correcting me, of course it is England which has the higest population density, not UK. We also have the greatest problems with infrastructure. Little surprise in that, of course, since the Scots Mafia run our government.

  16. How about more house boats – that would economise on cost and land
    This sort of home could solve a lot of problems…
    How about this houseboat for £25,000?
    see
    here
    http://houseboats.apolloduck.co.uk/feature.phtml?id=46213

    Main deck – Comfy saloon with occasional berths for 2 people and TV, leading to large galley with lpg cooker, fridge and ample storage/workspace. Excellent headroom throughout.
    Below – Double cabin with oil-fired heater (also heats saloon and bathroom), second cabin not fitted out which would make a spacious single cabin or allow a 2 bunk layout, forward bathroom with pressurised shower, sea toilet (to pump-out at present), and whb. Hot water from mains immersion, engine room aft.
    Lovely ex-Brixham fishing boat converted to comfortable houseboat or weekend retreat. Built 1957 in pitch pine on oak. The spacious accommodation includes – on the main deck, a roomy fully-fitted galley with full size gas cooker leading on to a comfy saloon which will also sleep two, while below there is a cosy double cabin, with oil-fired stove which also heats two radiators, bathroom with sea toilet (to holding tank), pressure shower and whb and a further single cabin to be fitted out. Aft engine room with 98hp David Brown engine in working order. All batteries are almost new. Minimal work needed to return the boat to cruising. Newly wired for shore supply. Currently moored near Norwich, this boat is in sound condition with no evidence of rot and pretty dry bilges, however there is potential for further refinement. Broads Licence paid till 2007. Very reluctant sale due to change in circumstances.

  17. There are two answers to this. No, three.

    1. Allow local authorities to increase their town/village envelopes by 10%. This would bring modest urban growth without eroding the green spaces in between. Ever flown over England? There’s bags of space!

    2. Invest in personal rapid transport systems (PRT), a cheap and highly effective way of moving people around conurbations. We could be a world leader, if only someone had the guts to pioneer ultra-light transport.

    3. HALT GROWTH BY IMMIGRATION. At least I won’t be shot for saying it nowadays; all but the unseeing know that immigration has got out of hand. There may be bags of space but our infrastructure is already stretched beyond the limit. Overcrowding is destroying our quality of life. We don’t need any more people – unless you’re a government hell bent on chasing that false idol GDP.

  18. Oh, I quite agree about the all-pervasive Scots mafia. They seem to be remarkably thick-skinned to any criticism of them though don’t they?

  19. Melissa:
    I was working in Cambridge for 5 years only a few years ago, and was looking at buying a 45′ by 10’6″ canal/river boat to live in Monday-Friday. The thing that put me off was the very high price and scarcity of residential moorings. With the recent reduction in funding to the Waterways Authority in the UK, they’ll be putting up mooring prices again no doubt.
    It’s not as cost-effective an idea as you might think.

  20. I’ve always thought that the housing market is a classic bubble. People buy houses in the conviction that prices always go up. Or that if they go down, it is only a brief pause before they start going up again. One day, very likely, vastly inflated house prices are likely to crash. The results could be terrifying.

    But then, I’ve been saying this for 30 years, and have been wrong for 30 years.

  21. As far as I know, the ratio of the average house price to the average salary is very much higher in the UK than in any other major European country. Something must be wrong with the housing market if that is the case.
    I know this is an unpopular view, but is it not the case that the ease of obtaining huge mortgages in the UK, without the lenders’ bothering about the longer-term ability of the mortgagee to pay, is forcing prices up?

  22. This article is being overly alarmist. Even in London there are large tracts of parkland. Also, even though demand is high, satisfying it would not require the whole of the South East to be built over!

    More sprawl by accretion would not be a good thing, but I don’t see any big problem with more ribbon development. It could actually be a good thing, as it would make existing rural bus routes more financially viable.

    More (and cheaper) public transport would certainly help, but the biggest barrier to housing affordability is the shortage of council housing. When is someone going to do something about that?

  23. Leaving aside the issue of concreteing over the green belts….in any part of England (although it is of grave concern) I get a damn sight more angry about the UK/England and Britian/England confusion and mis-representation.

    Flo,our population problem and problems with the infrastructue along with the aforementioned issue, you hit the nail right on the head when you pointed the finger at the Scottish Mafia, who have absolutely no allegience to England or the English people,so what if we are overpopulated, so what if we are concreted over, so what if we are denied life saving drugs, so what if students fees are prohibitive, it is of no consequence to their fellow countrymen north of the border or more importantly their constituents who voted them into the English Parliament in Westminster.

    I fear things will not change on any of these issues until we have a change of administation.

    Melissa I like your house boat idea, but if mooring fees on the Thames are on a par with mooring fees down here in Devon, which I suspect they are…and some..how many ordinary folk would be able to afford them.

  24. It should of course be administration, thats what comes from buying a cheap computer…can’t trust anything these days !!!

  25. Why not just move the government to Manchester? – Douglas Clark

    They are. The Ministry of Truth (the BBC to you and me) is relocating a lot of party members up to Manchester.

  26. Boris how many houses do you own.I am afraid your not interested in helping young people to own a home.You are a typical NIMBY.

  27. I liked your comments Churstonchappie!

    Though if you look at my £25,000 Houseboat for two idea (and it does look quite smart if you follow the link) – if someone were downsizing that would represent a value of at least one tenth of their selling home value and that would leave an awful lot spare for mooring fees etc exotic holidays..etc etc Great idea for anyone retiring and realising their assets

  28. Steven_L said:

    Well I think we should build all over the green belt. The population is increasing through inward migration and it’s young people that suffer most from it. Being a young person I take the rather selfish view we should start paving over it, because all you oldies seem to care about are your house prices.

    Steven_L, you live in Northumberland, the wide open space, low population density county (67 people per square mile), yet have previously said that you don’t want your county developed.

    So you want to dump even more unsustainable development and infrastructural collapse on the high density (419 people per square Kilometre) South East.

    That can’t be just, can it?

  29. Aidan said:

    ‘This article is being overly alarmist. Even in London there are large tracts of parkland. ‘

    London has 4699 people per square kilometre. We surely can’t begrudge Londoners a tiny bit of parkland?

    ‘Also, even though demand is high, satisfying it would not require the whole of the South East to be built over!’

    So kind of you to say so – however, the fact is that London and the South East cannot cope with the population density we have now. That’s why our infrastructure is in a state of collapse.

  30. We must protect our countryside, not just because of its vital ecological or heritage value, not just because of it’s aesthetics or because people need access to wide open spaces to feel fully human, though these are good enough reasons in themselves.

    Our countryside is the vital green lungs of our towns a crucial high quality air filter of the air pollution in our towns, especially those near airports and beneath flight paths. Anyone who doubts how vital this is, drive near to Heathrow, open your car window and inhale.

    Countryside is also our natural flood defence system, without which, we’d all be Boscastles. It performs this function not just in coastal areas but inland too. It’s the vital soil buffer surrounding the large number of water courses we have in UK. The great sponge that absorbs storm water and the floodwater of our streams and ponds, the vital importance of which will increase with climate change.

    When we destroy our countryside by concreting over it, we obliterate its ability to protect us in these ways. We create more pollution and impermeable flood plains with no soakaways, too often with nowhere for the resultant water run off to. I know this all too well because, thanks to unsustainable development on the hills a mile or two from my cottage, the flood risk of the part of the South East where I live has begun to flood. The streets of hundreds of people in the nearby town have been flooded by flash floods that storm gullies cannot cope with, in some cases their homes have been flooded internally. My entire street has been flooded, over pavements, up my car port, to within 2′ of my front door on a number of occasions. One day it won’t stop 2′ away, and I just hope that the artificial sand bags I’ve been advised to get are effective when that happens. At one of the meetings about these floods I asked one of those who’s house has been flooded for advice about what to do when it happens. You can’t do anything, he told me, a wall of water floods in so quickly that it knocks you off your feet.

    My street never flooded before this development began. Now our local waste water system is full to capacity and waste water from the, inadequately drained, development (currently, around 4000 houses, many thousands more to come) is being pumped into a new, gold medal winning, experimental system of reed beds, wetlands, artificial streams, weirs, dams, more red beds and a small reservoir, all filtering off into the streams of the community below and raising their level. In the heavy rain last week, the gold medal winning water courses turned were churning our water at the sort if speed and turbulence that you’d expect in the hills of the deserted highlands. So the flood risk of this development is mitigated by increasing the risk to the established community here.

    What is even more worrying is that the reservoir seems to me designed to flood into channels which feed directly downhill to where a stream passes just 20 yards or so from my cottage.

    The more densely we build in the South East, the greater the area of countryside or green belt we need to balance the damaging effects of the development. Yet such vital considerations are being scurrilously brushed aside in the headlong gold rush to them there hills.

  31. Fabulous Boris, you nailed it again, it’s not that we don’t need more houses and a smooth, human friendly journey to work, it’s that we are not born in this stunning world to live as slaves to the myth of the expanding economy.

    We need someone with the imagination to outline another way of doing things.

    Someone mentioned to me the idea of Governments working for the people, and recognising the host of jobs worth doing for our own benefit.

    The outworking of this idea was the government employing people to do worthwhile things for each other, and these kind of jobs are naturally distributed around the country. It may prove that there is more job satisfaction working for organisations that contribute to the local welfare as opposed to the anonymous never ending demands of overseas shareholders.

    These kinds of community orientated projects can be inclusive and friendly, rather than the couldn’t give a dollar offshore investors

    we need some new ideas, the myth of the ever expandable global economy enslaves and humiliates indiscriminately, whilst transforming the earth into a toxic slurry with its appetite for raw materials.

  32. “Wa” and “ffle” Boris . Meaning waffle and not even joined up waffle , as you very well know .There is absolutely no reason to trample on the green belt whether or not parts of it may be less than Haywain material (afternoon Constable). London has oodles of spare space and mega oodles of cheap housing . Why is it cheap Mr . to lazy -to -run -for -mayor ?No-one wants to live there of course . You would be staggered given the vibrant rainbow nations of Peckham Lambeth and most of your own manor , that floods of unhappy commuters , bored with English food and starved of “urban community” theatre are not flocking into the streets that go nowhere, and characterise the real London. Our blissful Parklands , the envy of the world , are but the throw of a flick-knife away. For reasons I dare not speculate about ,however ,they are , unsnapped up , left to rust , ever the bridesmaid. Thus the price remains low , thus Bethnal Green Harringay and a host of handy little bolt hole retain there “distinctive character”.
    Well you could hardly expect the residents to move out could you , after all most of them are on call at the City Honey pot 24 hours a day aren’t they ? Oddly no.
    In many of the most salubrious areas ,potentially , working anywhere at all is a mystery , much as the Roman remains were to dark age savages , who imagines giants once staked the land. The vast majority are occupied by state subsidised one parent families who could equally accept the largesse of the weary working stiff, in the Hebrides . Predictably , all attempts to create artificial pools of “affordable ” housing soon acquire there own special aroma of affluence or is it effluence , one of the two ; and defeat their supposed purpose immediately .
    Perhaps some might not like what I say but at least we can all agree that demand for housing has nothing , absolutely nothing , to do with available space in the metropolis. It is a political matter and incidentally , a matter of fiddling the books .
    As Hertfordshire squeals in dismay at the 3% Social housing barrier being broken , we live here in Borisania with the 70% barrier about to be airily flicked aside with a gallic shrug of the shoulders . The problem is not people moving into London it is people moving out ! George Walden , who has had some simply darling things to say about Cameron ,pointed out the role of honour amongst white flight deniers . Polly Toynbee (kids at public school), Dianne Abbot ,(same), Emily Thorn berry ..now let me see was a “the local school” or b A Grammar school yes a GRAMMAR SCHOOL she wangled with a second home . They have all bought themselves out .Cameron ? Is anyone taking bets because I `ll take a slice of that sweet action
    It isn`t race , its immigration as the majority of immigrants agree. It isn’t immigration its uncontrolled exploding cheap Labour needed by Mac Broon to disguise his supply side catastrophe. It is also the location of the nations Social problems in what is rapidly becoming a wildlife park . Gentrified Barnnsbury and Nottinghill dwellers do not live in it . They pass through it in the economic equivalent of a nice big 4 by 4. How there privileged children squeal and coo at the collapsing schools , the daily knifings and other exotica. How snug and safe they are. As they glide past they might be lucky and spot a rare , “new best friend” Trevor Phillips .Look he is waving his arms and warning us of some sort of cultural war , did you catch it sweetums ?..going to the dogs did he say ?

    Over the next twenty years London is predicted to double its population . The white working class are shattered and there are 500,000 more EU migrants lined up for next year. Meanwhile the damned Socialists have £156billion of Private Finance Initiative Borrowing guaranteed by the tax payer but off the balance book when Council house sales go straight into the pocket of the state . This all, ratchets up the ease with which ever increasing amounts of benefit collecting subsidised communities are concentrated in London .Always in London , nowhere else would put up with it nowhere else can it be hidden. That why we have to turn the country into a car park . That why we have take our birthright and desecrate it .

    Noone will take on the absurdity of free houses or at least start putting them somewhere else . Noone will take on Urban Social collapse . If the state wasn’t handing out free houses there wouldn’t be a London housing problem and the answer…much much much more of the same courtesy of my special favourite little popette Ken bloody Livingstone .

    Aaaaaargh!

    Now I feel better BTW some single parent families are absolutely lovely and i am strating the no bitching about cameron diet tommorow

  33. Someone mentioned to me the idea of Governments working for the people, and recognising the host of jobs worth doing for our own benefit. (s)

    You sound just like Steve Hilton. The last ‘government’ I know of that did actually did this as opposed to claiming that they did it, Steve….woops,sorry, s, was the chief of the Kalahari Bush People. This chief always put himself last in line for the very smallest of the meagre scraps of the meat brought back by the tribe’s hunters. Every member of the tribe received more than the chief.

    Here in the UK, even unelected spin doctors put themselves first in the queue for public money. I hear rumours that one is paid £270,000 pa. If governments begin working for the people, does this mean they take pay cuts? Boris excluded:)

    The outworking of this idea was the government employing people to do worthwhile things for each other, and these kind of jobs are naturally distributed around the country.

    Can you be more specific about the sort of work you’re thinking of and who will pay, as government’s have no money to speak of, do they?

    Do you mean, for example, a scheme where the government taxes us more unless we agree to take on, say, the roles that social services can’t afford to pay for any longer?

    It may prove that there is more job satisfaction working for organisations that contribute to the local welfare as opposed to the anonymous never ending demands of overseas shareholders. (S)

    That might depend on how much the organisations pay.

    These kinds of community orientated projects can be inclusive and friendly, rather than the couldn’t give a dollar offshore investors. (s)

    Right, a friendly smile instead of pay or tax cuts?

    we need some new ideas, the myth of the ever expandable global economy enslaves and humiliates indiscriminately, whilst transforming the earth into a toxic slurry with its appetite for raw materials. (s)

    The problem is that when the very rich and politicians, Boris excepted, speak of being green and friends of the earth, they tend to mean cutting popular consumption levels with taxes while increasing their own pay to relieve themselves of the effects of the misery they inflict on us.

  34. Always in London , nowhere else would put up with it nowhere else can it be hidden. That why we have to turn the country into a car park . That why we have take our birthright and desecrate it. (newmania)

    Ace, newmania! Except for the moan at Boris. Please leave him alone, he’s the only honest politician we’ve got these days.

  35. I was concerned that Da Broon was going to appear to stand for political honesty compared to Cameron. He seemed to escape the blame for bankrupting the coinage of poltical discourse.
    ( I prepared that metaphor earlier in the show folks )

    After the pre budget pack of lies I am relaxed . The evidence of vocal and presentational coaching was especially encouraging

  36. FLO nasty to Boris ? I know you are right , I `m still peeved with him for not running fo Mayor. A chance to do some real good. I `m afraid for the Conservative Party movers and shakers ,it has that unpleasant wiff of democracy. Why get elected when you can be “chosen” .
    God Nic Boles in the Telegraph , could he be more smarmy…very tricky

  37. The evidence of vocal and presentational coaching was especially encouraging (newmania)

    Or perhaps a little bit more than that – surgery? 🙂 Nevertheless, they cannot wipe out his big clunking fist. That thick and nasty image will haunt the old tax pirate for the rest of his born days. I’m sure Blair deliberately handed Broon that poisoned chalice…ooh, revenge is so sweet.

  38. newmania said:

    FLO nasty to Boris ? I know you are right , I `m still peeved with him for not running fo Mayor.

    Look, he can’t be Mayor and Prime Minister at the same time, can he? I know which I’d prefer him to do.

  39. newmania said:

    …….what is that peculiar Liony smell Tony?

    You’ve reminded me that I never did tell you what my picture showed. The day after I threatened to set Aslan on you, the oddest thing, I was savaged by a dog which took a chunk out of one of my legs. Horribly gory it was – and still is. I photographed it for your website.

    PS I’m a great animal lover, but this damn dog was a Scottie.

  40. ‘Steven_L, you live in Northumberland, the wide open space, low population density county (67 people per square mile), yet have previously said that you don’t want your county developed’ (Auntie Flo’)

    I wouldn’t mind a bit if they built on the greenbelt around Newcastle. Northumberland is a farming county, a national park and ministry of defence land mainly. I wouldn’t mind if they built more housing in South-East Northumberland, just not on the national parks etc.

    Whats the big fuss about building over a few fields anyway?

  41. Where the hell have you been Seven L , I have you been waiting to remind you of your upbeat perky prophecies concerning a certain antipodean affair . My insane cricket fan colleague has not fogotten.

    Sorry to hear if you Scottie attack FLO. – Execution ?

  42. I’ve been on nightshifts newmania, watching the cricket. Now my body clock is now a complete mess.

  43. Why does there have to be a choice between rural arcadia and inner-city slums?

    Isn’t it time to start redeveloping London suburbs with a housing stock more suited to the current and projected demographic at the same time improving amenity levels. Bull-dozing Wembley would be a start

  44. FLO- I’m a great animal lover, but this damn dog was a Scottie.

    …by which you mean a Scottie can be relied upon to take a big toothsome bite out of your wallet ( or indeed your pension)

  45. Dear Auntie Flo’

    I know i should answer your query in more minutiae, but i just read Boris’s web site for fun.

    let me answer a couple of your q’s

    “The outworking of this idea was the government employing people to do worthwhile things for each other, and these kind of jobs are naturally distributed around the country.

    Can you be more specific about the sort of work you’re thinking of and who will pay, as government’s have no money to speak of, do they?

    Do you mean, for example, a scheme where the government taxes us more unless we agree to take on, say, the roles that social services can’t afford to pay for any longer?”

    maybe governments don’t have any money, but they certainly get through a lot, and the also have a responsibility to the people of the country, so money can be generated from taxing finances that circulate around the world, this free floating money goes chasing after the best interest, which is why some people end up working for a very little, as if they complain the cash disappears to a more appeasing country. Thus our clothes are and shoes are manufactured in sweat shops and sold at high prices. Governments have legitimate access to manage this free floating capital and tax it.

    What kind of jobs do I mean? what kind of projects would you like to see flourishing down your way, last year Bristol cancelled meals on wheels of elderly folk, and we have several happening arts centres, but none that have a local community feel.

    maybe it will take time before we can create utopia, but it’s important to realise the current idealisation of economic growth is a system set up, in theory for everyone’s benefit, though the supposed trickle down effect is a bit random.

    sorry if I don’t fully explain these ideas, their not mine, rather Margaret Legum, author of ‘It doesn’t have to be like this’.
    also see the work of the New Economics Foundation, London. http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/

    all the best
    s

  46. s- but I just read Boris’s web site for fun.

    What other possible reason could there be ? I would also like to hint that I have vast wells of wisdom .
    Here goes……

    I have vast wells of wisdom and what you see here is the tip of , what I can assure you , is a gargantuan iceberg. Hint hint….

    WELL BORIS I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU

    I have been browsing through your second collection of articles ~(signed ,, thanks) and while you are always an entertaining writer a bit of this and that on the green belt is not exactly , bums on seats stuff is it . You in the past railed effectively against the EU and its absurdity. You stabbed and prodded with your witty dagger at the Liberal nonsense of the day and this is why everyone loves you . Can I put your problem in a nut shell.

    Your job is to sell opinions and yet as a C`mer roon faction member you quite simply are not allowed to have any .

    What are you going to do Boris ? You know very well that all the fun is on the right of the creepy A list .Even those of us who support the boys tactics would hardly repeat his pusillanimous vanilla flavoured sound bites as a party piece You have signed up to an agenda that specifically prescribes criticism of the EU , the environmentalist moonbats and the pathetic attempts of the Conservative party to look rainbow coloured by fast tracking those of Sub-Continental appearance who come via Africa where they were kicked out by the blacks. Colour does not diversity make , those of us who are not racists know this ;including the black ones. Are you seriously going to allow your heroic persona who infuriates the left by being “amused” , fall into a deep slumber. The middle is dull , the middle is work , we all work and from our stars we want something else.

    You should have run for mayor , it was a chance to a lot of good , you will never be more than a courtier in the cabinet which , in all honesty , we all know . With your profile you could have far far more power in the London seat. Are you scared of the twerp Livingstone , a sad old bar room left refugee from the 1970s . He is a joke , you might not win but it would be the principled thing to do .

    Please Boris don’t end your career the way PG Wodehouse ended his , to his eternal shame . You have responsibilities .There is no future in this Liberal Conservatism Conservatives won`t have it and it will behave like tissue paper in the bath if yDa Broon is beaten out of sheer boredom.

    Leadership Boris old chap , pull you huge elasticised trousers up and show us some !!!

  47. Leadership Boris old chap , pull you huge elasticised trousers up and show us some !!! (newmania)

    Ignore newmania, Boris, what you need do to do is to start writing for the Sun. I’ll buy it!

  48. maybe it will take time before we can create utopia, but it’s important to realise the current idealisation of economic growth is a system set up, in theory for everyone’s benefit, though the supposed trickle down effect is a bit random. (s)

    Random injustice: Life and justice are a random, are they not? Some people are born with huge disabilities or health problems and no amount of social justice will reverse the fundamental unfairness and inequality of this. What grounds do we have for believing that life should be just or fair, or that all should be equal? For that is what eradicating relative poverty requires.

    Anyway, you evaded a key question, s, when are those wealthy politicians harping on about waning equality going to take a pay cut to make themselves equal with the majority of us? Or is their section of the caravan across the Kalahari not stopping here?

  49. maybe it will take time before we can create utopia, but it’s important to realise the current idealisation of economic growth is a system set up, in theory for everyone’s benefit, though the supposed trickle down effect is a bit random. (s)

    A widely respected lecturer of mine spent a long time explaining to me, many years ago, why the Greek words for ‘good place’ also meant ‘no place’ and why these two meanings had been fused into the term ‘utopia’. Marx, he told me, criticised the utopian socialists who, from Saint-Simon (who believed that a new Christianity would create a perfect utopian society), to the Ludite, Fourier, (who believed that doing away with evil industrialisation altogether would have the same effect), all dreamed of a rational and harmonious society led by an elite of philosophers and scientists with a Good Life mission for everyone in society. The utopians all made one classic mistake which confined their dreams to the interesting failure section of the history – they hadn’t any viable means of achieving their dreams.

    Why? Marx said it was because they all lacked a concrete universal, a world changing catalyst for, and agent of, revolutionary change who’s dialectical materialist essence fused with its dialectical materialist ideological position to make it the necessary and only viable agent of real change: the working class. Middle or upper class elites can play a formative role in that struggle, Marx said, but anyone who can add up can see they will never be concrete universals or the agent of change in themselves.

    So what is a utopian to do, s, collapse back into failed Marxism? I don’t think so.

    A 21st century Marx would say: ‘it’s the Sun wot’ll win it’. Certainly the Sun’s 10 million readership is a whole lot more than the New Economic Foundation will ever get. These days, any prospective agent of change is sunk without dear old Mr Murdoch and the Sun – and the Sun’s excellent, eco-friendly conciseness and value at 35p a copy. All Conservatives should start buying it from tomorrow. Don’t worry about page three, newmania, just shut your eyes 🙂

  50. Flo it is essentially un Conservative to dream of Utopias which as you rightly detect are academic jokes or religious bunkum. Nic Boles .Gay Tory Etonian Policy Wonk and prospective Mayoral Candidate quoted this the other day from Michale Oakshott
    Michael Oakeshott had no doubt about a Conservative’s proper response: “to be conservative … is to prefer the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant … the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss”.

    What a good description that is and we Conservatives seem to be winning . We see few sincere Utopian ideas in the ether What has happened to Utopias ? I believe the last Utopia was” A Modern Utopia ” by HG Wells , Thomas Mores imagined one and some bod name of Plato may have had a stab at the genre . From Aldous Huxley on though we seem unable to imagine the future without fear and trembling .
    My life is full of the fearful the worthy the tedious and the humourless (Raincoaster?)
    There is no heaven on earthn and thank god for that . Even Milton had a lot more fun in hell than with that smug know all god .

    Consider the humanity of Satan:

    Satan, now back on earth, has a moment of doubt and despair in which he says that “the hell I suffer seems a heav’n.”

    I want my parking space back , that is my Utopia

  51. Flo don`t you patronise the Sun it is well know that their writers are far better than say the Telegraph . They are paid much more and do a much harder job . I could write in the Telegraph . Easy .

    AND Yes I look at Page three , I like womens breasts .What is wrong with that ???What do you gaze on with such gleeful appreciation ,pictures of enviromentally friendly recycling latrines?

    ( Bet your not so different to me )

  52. Flo – spookily I was making much the same point the other night in conversation, it seems we are as one on many things.

    Newmania – what would you say to one pundit’s opinion that utopia is the married family? (I obviously don’t qualify then and neither do my children – perhaps we could pop to N.Oxford in the snow and press our noses on the window of correct opulence) Would you say that the bastion of freedom that is the married family will fare better under a Conservative government?

    The NuLab State has interfered so much in family life that most are left fearful with a sense of having no control whatsoever. It’s not just tax it’s everything.

    Newmania – tell us what the Conservatives offer to give us “present laughter” as opposed to Bliars ‘utopian’ State controlled regime.

  53. newmania said:

    Flo don`t you patronise the Sun it is well know that their writers are far better than say the Telegraph .
    AND Yes I look at Page three (newmania)

    I’m not patronising the Sun, newmania, and apologise if I gave that impression, I certainly didn’t mean to. My call for Conservatives to read the Sun is a serious one. Let’s push up the Sun’s circulation and let Mr Murdoch know that it’s not only nulabs who are Sun readers. Let’s write in and tell the Sun too.

    What do you gaze on with such gleeful appreciation ,pictures of environmentally friendly recycling latrines? (Bet you’re not so different to me)(newmania)

    English villages, churches and countryside, especially those of, unfairly unappreciated Essex, are my particular consuming interest, newmania. Yours too? I’ve an archive of old photographs and prints of these which I’m researching.

  54. Jaq said:

    Flo – spookily I was making much the same point the other night in conversation, it seems we are as one on many things.

    We need to make the point louder, don’t we Jaq?

    Come on s, enter into a proper debate on this – are you up for it?

  55. What has happened to Utopias ? (newmania)

    Dreams of utopia have always been and will always be with us, some academically formulated, others just embedded in folk lore and popular consciousness. My old lecturer, along with many other respected academics, most of them on the far left as they often were, had a very compelling explanation for the pervasiveness of utopias.

    Humanity dreams of a Golden Age, he said, partly because a melancholic sense of lost utopia is embedded in us. It stems partly from a hazy memory of lost childhood and lost innocence – even the most brutalised among us have memories of a life free of responsibility and care which preceded the painful awareness of our human condition and mortality.

    More complex formulations of Utopian ideals, he said, are often constructed by those who, for one reason or another, are, or feel themselves to be, outsiders who are not well integrated into the general society. People like me, who have disabilities or are of mixed heritage often tend to be utopians. People like Marx, who was a Jew and who migrated away from his birthplace so had a dual cultural heritage. Such people may have either a clearer or more critical insight/perspective, or, like me, just a quirky perspective in relation to everyone else’s. Humanity’s achievers, Freud, Einstein, Shakespeare(?), Marx – an uncanny proportion of thinkers have been such outsiders.

    Unfortunately, they seem to loom large among tyrants too – among men like Hitler and Attila the Hun. So the yearning for utopia can be a very positive aspect of the human spirit – or a very dark one.

    With respect,s, given how often humanty have been collectively fooled, how are we to tell which side of the ethical spectum your utopia stems from?

    Could you perhaps give us some idea?

  56. There are billions of us competing for a better life as well as co-operating to achieve it. All too often our collective ambitions are hijacked by power mad and greedy political elites from the dark side of the human motivation range.

    What worries me about the utopia’s dreamed up by the Polly Toynbees of this world, is that they are, for all their claims to the contrary, fundamentally elitist and power crazy. The great mass of us would have very little say in the form their utopias would take. Little wonder that nulab’s ‘utopia’ is collapsing into Orwell’s 1984.

    Nulab and Toynbee say that we are all duty bound to obey and to sacrifice more and more of our hard earned pay, while nulab and the Toynbees go on moralising and coining it in. When we object that the past 10 years have been bl**dy misery, not utopian, they answer that we just haven’t paid or obeyed enough, give themselves another rise and stick yet another security measure against us around themselves.

    How do we stop this pattern being repeated all over again, s? From where I stand, I’m sad to say, the alternatives look equally elitist and unaccountable.

    How would your utopia be accountable to us, s? What power would the great mass of us have to shape the from it takes? Would we be allowed to vote our leaders’ salaries for example, or to vote for or against going to war? Or is it just another case of Big Brother knows best?

  57. I LIKE DAVID CAMERON-and on the family he is getting it right:

    As the subject of the Nulab assault on the family has cropped up I have diligently attempted to make a gestalt of the seething swarm of grievances that madden me between dusk and darkness. Somewhat unusually I find it difficult. It has been the soufflé that will not rise and I feel more that usually clumsy male and brutish . I do hope such qualities are still attractive.
    The reason a delicate trout tickling finger is required is that there are competing claims all of which one feels are self evidently super . The rights of women , the prevention of dire poverty the maintenance of the family and the protection of children. We tick all those boxes do we not , so where is the problem ?

    Firstly the position of women in marriage . The operation of the divorce courts currently treats the man as under a duty amounting to strict Liability. Whatever the circumstances , be she the scarlet whore of Babylon , the man must lose . He must lose because the children are the state first responsibility. It cannot be doubted that if the explicitly political appointment of judges operated in the UK we would not be stuck with this and other Liberal anachronisms. Nu Lab as we know leaves the legal profession alone.(Tony Blair will I trust be needing the help of an excellent lawyer very soon.) . Part of the effect of this has been to increase to divorce rate but clearly this will be increasingly at the behest of women. The family there fore has be come lop sided . In any dispute the state stands as an alternative provider . In particular a provider of housing . The man is excess baggage . We can see how some of our good motives have lead to evil ends but where is the balance ?

    The operation nationally of subsidised housing is well known ,of course ,to have driven a coach and horse through the web of familial connections that the working classes relied upon . It has been one of the most malign errors of political correctness that we have been denied respectability when telling the truth . Women do get pregnant in order to acquire points . Couples are prevented from acknowledging their connection by marginal tax benefits bribery The absent father has been a disaster for young white men in particular. Incidentally the poor white “underclass” perform very much worse than their immigrant opposite numbers . Briefly this is because immigrant s are often temporarily poor middleclass aspirants obliged to start at the bottom . This is not the same as being beaten into losing all self respect as the urban non-working class have been . The destruction of the family in this context has had dire consequences .Sure start has not even connected with it and its failure tells you much about the incomprehension NuLab has for real life.

    Only 17 % of white working class boys gain 5 or more A to C grades at GCSE. This means they are unable to spell their own name in the degraded currency left from grade inflation. Britain has the worst level of family breakdown in Europe and around 1 in 3 British children will experience divorce or separation by the age of sixteen. Two out of five children are born to unmarried parents Make no mistake this is not a soft subject for daytime TV , this is a disease that grips the patient by the throat. It is like a sickness that attacks all the organs simultaneously . Education ,social behaviour ,drugs and crime . At the centre of it all is the family. The keystone removed the Arch must crumble and under the rubble children of ten and eleven are routinely involved in drugs crime . The single largest driving force behind this is the maintenance of a housing policy suitable for the austere need of the fifties into the new millennium. ,….and yet do we want mother and child on the street ? Where is the balance?

    Perhaps the problem of the absent and derided father has been given enough air . What about the despised mother. Don your flak jackets and accompany me if you will to the Mummy war zone. Nearly half of all women in a sample of 2134 felt they were under an equal obligation to provide for the family as the man .Many of these despise the, “Housewife”. On the other side significant percentage of non working mothers report their contempt for the selfishness of the worker mum and, feel that it is they who are failing in the most important role .How the Nu Labs lie . They claim , rightly , that time spent with mother and child together has increased since the sixties . When you factor in the “accessible time” measurement though the situation is very much worse .Accessible time is that time not spent cooking cleaning and working at home.
    What do we want then ? Get those uppity fillies back in the kitchen, and back into character? Should we have a law requiring women to be able to..” stuff a goose with one hand while whipping up a tarte fine aux pommes with the other, at the same time as having great sex with their adoring husbands”. Many men will be scratching their heads in search of an objection , but lets be serious . Not in this life my friends.
    I need hardly add that the male has become a miserable primate picking his ears in solitary confusion. He is miserable .

    A strange pottage , in all, of good , if bossy , intentions , we can all see something is going badly wrong but but to introduce sudden doctrinaire changes would only fall as foul of the law of unintended consequences as the Blair disaster. Now here comes the sting the tail ..wait for it …any minute now . David Cameron is getting right!
    What , that callow matinee fraud ,…has newmania lost his solitary marble… ?
    Against considerable evidence to the contrary I would argue no. David cameron is listening to women . He has signalled this by fast tracking the Priti Patels and Joanne Cash`s into the loathed A list , he has spent much capital on the project . His language does not , like president Bushes`, include reference to Blair’s “cojones” he does not require a “Clunking fist” You have to read he runes a little but then women are especially good at that. They have responded by backing over the Socialist Scot by 42% to 30%
    He is listening to suggestions that women require flexible working hours . His indifference to Big Business is a sign that their need will not come first. Most importantly he has suggested a scheme to convert Council rents into mortgages. He does not have to say how he values the countries institutions , remember he has come into the centre from the right ! Why do you think he and Boris get on so well !

    Above all he has winked as much as he possible can at the party on taxes. He cannot be clearer . He wishes to simplify . As everyone knows that means reduce by the only electorally possible means . By this method he will help the poverty trap .The credit system …let us not speak of it ! He is tied into distancing us from Europe , an essential prerequisite to doing anything at all .It all forms a picture Take the disaster of literacy he does not demand we return to the 194os as some Tories secretly wish he would . He persuaded the Education secretary to reintroduce synthetic phonics. He is interested in practical solutions

    We are in early days and there is no pointing giving Nu Lab clothes to steal or policies to cost This is not a subject for big ideas and sweeping changes it is a subject for feeling our way to a new definition for the family . My reading is that David Cameron is doing just that . Some of us so hate the Labour Party that we cannot bare the reasonableness of his approach .I have begun to think we all need to grow up. David Cameron is a fine Leader , a caring man and a brave man. He is not an insider. The Party chose him because they needed him. David Davies agrees , so does Boris .The women of the country sense he has something and are saying so . What then of the men ?

    Well , when the women are happy , rest assured , life becomes sweet indeed for those of us with real “cojones”

  58. Interesting newmania, but will David Cameron build on the Green Belt? Seriously, come the election he’ll have to have some sort of policy regarding housing and planning matters.

    Under Blair the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (and now the new Ministry for Communities and Local Government or whatever it’s called) has grown to epic proportions and has more powers than Superman. Would you propose than planning controls become 100% a matter for the Local Authority? How would this work in London where you have Ken Livingstone’s lot breathing down the necks of senior local government officers? Should the office of Mayor have any powers in respect of planning?

    Surely it has to be a case that new homes and jobs are in the national interest. Why should central government not have the power ot overule the ‘not in my back yard’ objections of residents to developments? I think at some stage the Tories are going to have to make coherent proposals about what will happen to the old ODPM, the office of London Mayor and what influence, if any, central government will have on planning and housing policy.

    Personally I would be in favour of reviewing Green Belt boundries with a view to the building of a set amount of new housing around each major city. To this extent I think central government does have a role to play in what are traditionally local planning issues. I’m sure others will disagree with me.

  59. Steven_L said:

    Interesting newmania, but will David Cameron build on the Green Belt? Seriously, come the election he’ll have to have some sort of policy regarding housing

    If Cameron he doesn’t halt the run away development of the South East, Steven_L, he’ll need a massive tax fund to totally rebuild the entire infrastructure here – not just roads, schools, NHS, jobs, water and sewage systems, everything.

    Take the Boscastle flood in waiting development above my community here, which is already putting up the red flag of surface water flooding. The vast amount of waste water, sewage and water run off from 13000 additional new houses (on top of the 4000 already built) on the high ground above here has nowhere to go, so it’s being filtered into experimental reed beds and a reservoir which filters down here and on to the neighbouring town. That reservoir is designed to flood down here too as development increases.We’re told to expect stand pipes in our streets when the treated water runs out, I envisage us standing up to our thighs in flood water to collect it.

    The heads of the water companies tell us that the South East’s drainage system, sewers and their treatment plants are all operating at full capacity they cannot take any more. Our streams are operating at dangerously high levels now too and cannot cope with the additional run off from all these thousands of extra houses without bursting their banks and flooding us on a far more widespread basis than the surface water floods we have now. I wish I could send you one of the films or a pictures I have of this flooding.

    So, you’ve built all along the M11 corridor, Steven_L and Cameron, now where does the money come from for a new sewage system and more treatment works and all the other infrastructual renewal?

  60. Forgot to mention the ecological distaster in waiting here too.

    In a field on the high ground above me, the main sewer from the development has been flooding and periodically discharging directly into our stream for 18 months. The water company aren’t able to fix it – because it’s not blocked, there’s simply too much effluence and water up there.

    That stream feeds into the river a mile or two away. How many other sewers are similarly discharging into streams? It’s going to cost billions to rebuild the sewage and waste water system for us and the neighbouring town – which is also being flooded by this development. And what do you know, no one has the money for it, so the council are proposing rubber band solutions.

    Where will you find the money for this essential infrastructure, Steven_L?

  61. Like you, I am appalled by the idea of using up Green Belt land for housing.
    How about this for an idea: in Norway there are generous tax breaks for householders who convert a part of their house into a self contained flat.
    We have an aging population, a good many of whom own family houses which are now too big for their needs. People are reluctant to uproot and move -and to pay Stamp duty for the privilege. Why not encourage them to stay put but convert part of their house into a small flat for sale or rent? In our part of Hampshire the stock of smaller houses has been depleted by families who bought a small cottage and built on rather than move as families expanded.
    Encouragement to convert should increase the supply of modest accommodation on the market and provide useful extra cash for the house-owner at a time when he is likely to need it.
    And the incentive? How about abolishing IHT on the value of the whole house if a self-contained flat has been carved out of it – and occupied – for, say, a minimum of 5 years? That should focus a few minds!

  62. Sybil Venning said:

    in Norway there are generous tax breaks for householders who convert a part of their house into a self contained flat. We have an aging population…Why not encourage them to stay put but convert part of their house into a small flat for sale or rent?

    Seems a good idea to me, Sybil. A number of my neighbours with large gardens have used part of their plot to build a smaller house or bungalow which they move into, selling the larger house for retirement income, so raising income in this way seems to be popular.

  63. ‘Where will you find the money for this essential infrastructure, Steven_L?’ (Auntie Flo’)

    For a start the building work creates jobs and taxation. Re-zoning agricultural land to residential land suddenly increases it’s worth and creates wealth. Value is added by building the property and the added value is taxed. People move into the new homes and start to pay water rates.

    Government can legislate to make the water companies fix infrstructure problems. It might mean everyone paying a bit more in water rates, but the job of upgrading the infastructure creates more jobs and the cycle continues.

    It’s called progress.

  64. Your colleague IDS has the answer. It’s about families: every divorce creates two households where one existed. A divorce rate of 40% and falling household size (down from an average of 3 people per house to about 2.3 now) are closely linked, and the fewer people live in each house, the more houses we need.

    On top of the effect on adults and childrens health, mental health, educational performance, proneness to invovlement in crime etc., loss of bits of Green Belt is another consequence of family breakdown. For 40 years or so we have run an experiment in family structure, and the experiment has failed. Even worse, the communities which are now being built have less and less community provision, and Labours proposed changes to the planning laws, skewed towards commercial interests, will only make this worse. This in turn makes families and couples more isolated and disconnected from neighbours and community, and puts more pressure on adult relationships.

  65. DAVID KEEN- If you look at my post above I linked housing policy to family breakdown and then onto all manner of social evils . Hardly fresh thinking I know but I must admit the lack of housing space itself is not somthing I thought of as connected .

    The first and obvious thing to do is to restore the married couples transferable allowance.

    Thanks for your contribution which has tied a few things together

  66. Idlex – see my email wrapped in the bloglink under my name in the previous comment, could you email me and I’ll try to help with your forum problem?

  67. David Keen: You make some good points. Re divorce increasing housing demand, up to a point that’is true, however doesn’t research show that most people from fragmented relationships go into other relationships and housesharing situations.

    I remember attending a speech by a spatial planner, near the start of Blair’s reign, who claimed that by 2020 UK would need 30% more houses to accomodate divorced and single elderly people living alone. Rubbish, I told him! These factors account for just 9% of the forecast increase, what factor accounts for the other 20%? And of course it’s migration to the UK – which also increases the number of single households too.

  68. Auntie Flo’: a lot of people from fragmented relationships don’t go into new ones – just look at the census information on single parent households, which have shot up in the last generation.

    Also, we’re going to need all that net migration to keep the economy going as the population ages. The birthrate among white britons is something like 1.7, so the white population is ageing and on a long term downward trend.

    The other worrying thing about that birthrate is who is doing the birthing – there is a local man here in Somerset with something like 10 kids in the same council house, and 3 women all expecting children by him, who’s put in to be moved to a bigger property. Mind you, if we were all prepared to put up with a houshold that size, then problem solved!

  69. David Keen said: we’re going to need all that net migration to keep the economy going as the population ages.

    I’m a recruitment consultant and part of my recruitment association’s research panel. My experience from my business and the research findings – and it is supported by the national figures – is that unemployment is on the increase because there are too many people competing for too few jobs, far too may of which are moving overseas. Some skills are still in short supply, but many are not. In the town where my business is based, there have been around 800 redundancies that I’m aware of in recent months. Every day I’m registering new candidates newly arrived from from overseas and candidates from UK for whom there isn’t any work.

  70. And remember, we’re currently living in the Mickey Mouse Kingdom of Blairdom, where many 1000s of non jobs are created to cover up the real unemployment figures. Would all of these make work jobs be sustained by another government? Even Brown’s finding that we can’t afford this – though he scales down in the wrong areas such as NHS frontline staff.

  71. Yes and also inflation is rising .Phillips curve anyone ? not ideal. David`s point on the population and who is actually “breeding ” is quite right . In London when you add the white flight to immigration and differentail replacenment the picture is changing utterly

  72. Auntie Flo – good points well made.

    David Keen & Newmania – we can’t stop the poor people breeding so perhaps importing in more poor people is not a good idea? I’m for immigration control.

  73. JAQ- “Poor” people ? Well I know what you mean although I usually have a lot less than nothing myself.

    People on benfits have 8 children because for each child they get more .Working people are not replacing themselves because house prices as compared to wages are beyond a single salary usually.

    Anti family and anti working family benefits and taxation policy is the heart of everything wrong with this country. IMHO

  74. Newmania – I think your opinion is spot on and am disappointed that the only new thing Cameron can come up with on the issue of families is government funded marriage guidance? That’s like saying ‘we’re not going to change anything we’ll just make you feel better about the mess’. I’m interested in the policies that will arise from the expensive study that stated the obvious. I suppose again it’s wait and see.

    Which reminds me of the fabulous Jesse Norman : How many Conservatives does it take to change a lightbulb? It’s far too early to tell.

  75. Jaq: I’m not a regular contributor here, but I can’t help smiling that on a thread about the Green Belt we’ve ended up talking about immigration control. And on a Tory website too, who’d have thought it?

  76. That David is because the green belt is dull and why is Boris being dull. Here was my theory ..

    Your job is to sell opinions and yet as a C`mer roon faction member you quite simply are not allowed to have any .

    …and I find it wholly creditable that Conservatives can be relied on to defend working class communities from the cheap Labour requirements of big business. having said that …..I know what you mean , I smirked myself

    (and this is soon to become a no smirking public area)

  77. David Keen – your comments are much appreciated and Boris believes wholeheartedly in freedom and democracy for all so don’t hold back, tell us what you think.

  78. If all else fails, there’s a brownfield ocean site opening up at the North Pole by 2040 (todays Times). We’ve started back with prison ships, so a floating community is just a logical extension of this. Bit difficult to mark your parking place though..

    Newmania: if your greenbelt is dull, you’re probably living somewhere like the Midlands (flat), or Wiltshire (farmed into a monochrome green blanket), you should probably move to somewhere near the Pennines, or Cornwall.

    What’s the problem with dullness anyway? Al Gore is dull, but right, on the environment, and we will sink burbling into the sea in a couple of generations unless we stop confusing real life with the X factor, insisting that our politics be entertaining. Do we have what it takes to do the hard slog of sorting out the environment, families, Iraq, the developing world, etc., or will we get bored part way through and give up? In the words of the prophet Morrissey “Tried living in the real world instead of a sham/but before I began/I was bored before I even began”. There’s nothing wrong with a decent soundbite, but if a politician isn’t prepared to work hard on analysing the issues and getting the answers right, then they’re better off in showbiz, and we’re better off without them.

  79. David Keen – the midlands isn’t flat – Clent Hills, Dudley, Wyre forest, and could you argue the start of the peaks are in the midlands? Fabulous gritstone in Derbyshire.

    Good point about politics being about the mundane. And isn’t ‘may you live in interesting times’ a curse?

  80. , but if a politician isn’t prepared to work hard on analysing the issues and getting the answers right, then they’re better off in showbiz

    I entirely agree and I would enjoy dull worthy analysis of the major policy planks than peripheral discussion of the symptoms. Boris has signed up the Cameroonian Faustian pact and cannot delve deeply into any subject .
    The need to develop the Green belt is a symptom of housing policy which is related to tax and benefit policy in ways I described above , or perhaps not , but Boris will not be going there
    He may not specifically say anything about

    Tax
    Immigration
    Benefits
    NHS reform
    Most of all
    The EU

    Irwin Seltzer pulls the Broon taxation agenda to pieces to day in the DT . This the sort of thing Boris used to do and especially he used to do it to the EU. It’s a shame . Interesting times are not a curse if you are interested in the right things

    BTW I live in London , I have seen the midlands on my way to the lake District but felt no need to stop.

  81. Kate Barker and her husband have objected to a barn conversion near their own, select, converted barn in the lovely, development free, country town of Thaxted where they live.

    Nimby Kate is effectively saying build all over the Green Belt and South East – just not in her part of it.

    Typical snulabbery, typical nulab hypocrisy and greed, grab everyone else’s countryside, pensions and wages while clinging so tightly to your own elitist priviledge.

    In my view, Kate Barker has lost any semblance of objectivity or even handedness in the conduct of her Treasury job with this snout in the trough hypocrisy and greed. She should be sacked.

  82. Warning: Rant mode on.

    Paul Newman said:
    “BTW I live in London , I have seen the midlands on my way to the lake District but felt no need to stop.”

    I could put up with Newman’s patronising comments and him being an insufferable snob if he was a person of any breeding. It is however apparent from the tedious streams of drivel that he presents that he is in fact a thinly-disguised and barely-literate oik. Bigoted London dwellers such as he should confine their utterances to their fellow dwellers in the ex-slum areas of the Great Wen where they seem to take such great pleasure in residing.

    Yes, I’ve been to Islington. It seems to be Brixton with better diction. I don’t want to return.

  83. Chris , when I think of you fulminating with your distinctive nasal whine I immediately imagine the wonderful urban theatre it would make .Brixton is a marvellous place to live but I know why to you it is the obvious example of social ignominy. My cunning disguise is hiding the inner oik a little better than yours is it not?

  84. So… back to the protection of the greenbelt and housing issues. Someone suggested that people should only be allowed to own one property and believed that would help the housing situation. I think that measure would be along the lines of a totalitarian state and believe Blair has taken us far enough down that road already.

  85. Paul:
    I will do my best not to make any direct reposts to your snide comments any more.

    If you’re happy living in your urban jungle ghetto, then so be it.

  86. I agree with Jaq that state-directed restrictions upon the amount or type of property that one may own is unacceptably totalitarian.
    There is the problem in much of the country though in that some outsider can come in (having sold an ex-slum property in Islington for example), with vast amounts of money in their possession and proceed to buy up a property for what is (to them) peanuts. They may only use the property for a few weeks a year, but it has been removed from the pool of property available to the impecunious locals. How can this be fairly dealt with?

  87. I did indeed!
    Mea culpa.

    That’ll teach me not to emulate your flow-of-conciousness typing! (not without reading what I have written anyway)
    I was too keen on firing it off in my impetuous anger.

  88. Newmania and Morriss, you’re a pair of herberts. Please cut it out or we’ll put you both on the nsughty step. xxxx 🙂

  89. I am with Barker on this. The preservation of village greens & spreading chestnut trees, when it costs misery for people looking for homes, is wrong. It is also ineffective because what is actually being preserved are vast fields designed for modern machines not ploughmen, which already exist only on subsidy. Cutting stamp duty will be entirely ineffective because what is causing the rise in house prices is not the price of supplying housing but the restictions on supply.

    This is straight supply & demand economics. We have an increasing population & more importantly smaller familiy units so housing demand is going up fast. On the other hand we are building under 1% of housing stock which, unless houses last an average of well over 100 years means the supply is static or worse.

    That alone is why houses now cost 20 times that of a car when a century ago they were the same. There is no technical reason why we couldn’t produce houses off site like cars – and probably make them more leakproof & simonized too.

    An alternative to not building or building in the suburbs would be building multi-storey, for which, in practice we would never run out of land. The “heritage” industry would be down on that too.

  90. Jaq said:

    Someone suggested that people should only be allowed to own one property and believed that would help the housing situation. I think that measure would be along the lines of a totalitarian state and believe Blair has taken us far enough down that road already.

    I agree, Jaq. We’ve gone far enough down nulab’s slippery slope towards totalitarianism. Sick to the back teeth of it I am too.

    My view is that we must have balanced development, we cannot continue exacerbating the infrastructural crisis in the South East by continuing to dump increasing amounts of development in pockets of the South East. If Cameron is elected and goes down Blair’s road on this he’ll make himself very unpopular here very quickly.

  91. I’m most impressed with your blog, Neil Craig, it’s excellent. Should add too that I’m impressed with all of the blogs of Boris’s regular contibutors, just wish I had the time for my own blog.

    Not impressed with your views on Barker though, Neil, you’re with her, I’m with Friends of the Earth – who say:

    ‘The food chain is becoming increasingly global – and big business has taken control. The world’s biggest company is a supermarket – Walmart/Asda.Farmers around the world are encouraged by bodies like the World Trade Organisation to grow whatever they can most cheaply and sell it worldwide. This helps the profits of the supermarkets, fertiliser and pesticide companies but it’s bad news for small farmers, people and the environment:

    Give a fair deal for farmers who safeguard our future. Save food and farming from unfair global trade rules.’

    I’m also interested in the views of the Optimum Population Trust, who argue that, for national sustainability, we need to reduce our population to 55 million – which perhaps doesn’t seem as absurdly unlikely as it once did in the light of the recent survey suggesting that 10% of us want to leave UK.

    That would free up a lot of housing and cut prices.

  92. This is straight supply & demand economics. We have an increasing population & more importantly smaller family units so housing demand is going up fast. On the other hand we are building under 1% of housing stock which, unless houses last an average of well over 100 years means the supply is static or worse. (Neil)

    Is it simply a straight supply and demand issue – or are we perhaps tackling other issues in the wrong way? UK encouraged mass migration in the 1950s/60s to cope with the post-war period’s aging population and skills problem. It worked for a while, but then those who’d migrated here aged and the whole aging population/skills issue came up again – as it will with those migrating here now.

    Is it sustainable to use migration and a house building boom to deal with the recurring problem of our aging population or do we need to consider other possible routes to sustainability?

  93. Auntie Flo’ said:
    “Is it sustainable to use migration and a house building boom to deal with the recurring problem of our aging population or do we need to consider other possible routes to sustainability?”

    Of course it’s not sustainable to go down the route of thinking a continual increase in population solves these things. It’s as foolish as a person who is £1000 in debt thinking that if he borrows £2000 it solves his debt problem. All that the increase in population does is feed a bigger problem to our descendants. Why is it that only the Green party seems to realise this?

  94. Why is it that only the Green party seems to realise this?

    The Green Party doesn’t realise anything . The decimation of the Cities by uncontrolled migration has been deliberately allowed because the increase in red tape has destroyed the real economy. With inflation and unemployment rising there it is clear the economy cannot withstand increased demand. In any case this is beyond the Chancellors remit , the only good thing he ever did . Unreformed Public Sector resource munchers have been hosed down with taxpayer’s cash and like all their kind only react by needing more.

    The endless long Summer of growth (actually begun under the chancellor ship of Norman Lamont) , can only be sustained by reducing costs to big business who collude in raising entry barriers to the markets and finance large Lobbying groups , like the Smith Institute ( see Guido). Broon has to have this growth to pay the political pipers of the public sector and he is selling out the country to do it .

    It is for this reason that immigration has been allowed to balloon and will continue to be allowed to replace the indigenous people with the flood of further migrants from Bulgaria and Romania next year ( One of the1038 unanswered questions) . Meanwhile One in ten Britain’s actually live abroad and 500 permanently relocate every day (replaced by 1500 immigrants)

    I am way past pansying around with the whole subject. The answer is lowering taxes reducing administrative burden getting out of the EU , restoring honesty to public finances . My side is winning the argument and will win in the end as the horror unfolds .Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have signalled they knwo it . What a shame David Cameron has to be dragged like a scraggy old donkey, by the nose ,by the resurgent right .

    The Green Party cannot help they are wedded to proto Socialist policies that destroy business and are useful idiots for the Socialists at best. The worst of this operates through the EU .( See new “Green “measures announced yesterday due to undermine the chemical industry) . They also encourage childish non engagement with big policy and single issue fraud of a typical Liberal kind .

    When will we defend this country. The whole position is far far worse than it appears and we , the English are fast becoming no more than a scattering of aboriginies paid lip service but irrelevant to the country. I `m with Le Pen . Love this country or leave it . I `m with Winston Churchill I wish he was here to day to warn us we are sleepwalking towards the end of this country. I wish he was here to tell the people who the traitors are and what they have done .This was following the betrayal of the Munich appeasement

    “They ,( The poeple of this country), should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defenses; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history.”

    Resonates for us I think

    Great Boris attack on the EU in the Tory graph today bring it on. Amusing and deadly

  95. I agree with most of what you say here, but not all. I am not anti-EU in the way that you and many others are. (A good job, as I may be one of those leaving these shores and relocating to France when I take early retirement!)

    I continue to take issue with the misuse of the word ‘liberal’ that is so prevalent. Although I normally vote Conservative, I’m not really a Conservative, nor a neo-con. If anything I’m a paleo-liberal, who is disenfranchised by the fact that we don’t have a proper classic-liberal party any more and haven’t had since 1914. I intensely dislike Cameron’s move of the party towards a social-democrat stance. Surely I’m not the only one who has almost given up on the silly little man?

  96. ‘Someone suggested that people should only be allowed to own one property and believed that would help the housing situation’ (Jaq)

    This is obviously a silly idea, however why not build more new developments (perhaps on the Green Belt) that can only be sold to people who don’t already own property.

    The fact that so many new developments get snapped up by the buy-to-let brigade must help keep prices up and first-times priced out. If more new developments were restricted to non-owners then that might help.

    Anyway, I wonder how many of you lot actually would like to see a house price crash. I know I would, but I can’t see it happening.

  97. I would love to see a house price crash if it happened by the same percentage across the board. My house is only a small pre-war two-bedroomed semi and I have more savings in cash than the house is worth. The bigger the crash the better for me. I might even be able to afford a decent house in the UK rather than have to move to France.

  98. Thanks for the kind words Auntie Flo (particularly when I have not usually supportive of FoI). Britain’s population growthn is clearly immigration driven & think that unsustainable. I think differetnial population growth poses a much more severe world problem tahn anything in the UK. At present growth rates Yemen (3.4%) will have a larger population than Russia by 2050. Clearly something is going to intervene.

    Then someday somebody is going to invent a pill that stops aging & then we really will have a housing problem.

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