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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Disingenuous George

The Right Honourable George Eustice, our esteemed MP for Illogan (and elsewhere), certainly knows how to take some simple concepts and turn them on their heads!

Cornwall suffers an extremely high rate of population growth compared to parts of the UK. This growth is not down to the indigenous population increasing, but due to decades of Westminster policy which dictates that social and economic problems are best solved by growth.

It matters not that this philosophy has been a complete failure for Cornwall, each new generation of Westminster politicos tell us that growth is the way forward and this is swallowed hook, line and sinker by our Cornish councillors.

The Cornishman on the Camborne omnibus would tell you that we don't need more unaffordable housing, which is never built to meet local need, simply adding to the pressure on Cornwall's economy. Most local opinion would be against the building of houses - a plain and simple fact.

Not to be deterred by facts, Mr Eustice has cast his eye over the Localism Bill and urges us to believe that:

" In future, parish councils will be able to put forward their own plans and put them to a referendum of local residents. If supported, these parish plans will take precedence over the opinions of Cornwall Council planners."

So the person on the Camborne omnibus might look at that and think that MrEustice's friends in the ConDem government were finally trying to give some real power back to local people.

Utter rubbish unfortunately! What Mr Eustice actually means is that, where local plans include development and house building, the plan might override the local authority. In other words if Cornish councillors have managed to get past all of the hurdles such as "predeterminism", "a presumption in favour of 'sustainable' growth" and the threat of legal action if planning permission is denied, then local town and parish councils can still insist that houses get built. In other words what Mr Eustice points to as a golden opportunity for people to have a say in what their communities look like is merely another way of promoting development and the construction of houses.

If the 'local plan' states that the community does not want any development then this will be ignored and outweighed by the presumption in favour of development. In no case will a local plan, which attempts to block house building, be allowed precedence over London based developers.

For the Westminster politicians 'localism' is all about how to ensure that their ideologies are the only options for people to adopt!

Cornwall needs to adopt a 'steady state' policy towards development. We need time to rebuild our communities and to find real and lasting solutions to economic problems. The people of Cornwall are quite capable of doing this - if only we were able to be left to get on and do it.

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