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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Labour for Penzance - or Tim Dwelly for himself - you choose!

Tim Dwelly, the Labour party Cornwall Council candidate for Penzance East, doesn't seem to like answering questions on either his personal views or even those of the Labour party he is representing.

The Labour party were responsible for setting the infamous 'bonkers' housing targets contained in their Regional Spatial Strategy. Under Labour 68,000 houses were due to be built on a green field near you.

Tim Dwelly is a keen supporter of mass house building and has criticised the recent decision by Cornwall Councilors to plan for 42,500 houses in Cornwall over the next 17 years. He believes this is not enough - especially in Penzance.

You can read about Tim Dwelly here.

Tim Dwelly also has some rather right wing views on social housing and the 'right to buy' council housing stock.

"Is offering a social tenancy for life unintentionally encouraging ways of living that value welfare dependency above making your own way?"

Sounds like David Cameron? Actually this is Tim Dwelly.

The problem is that when anyone tries to question him about his views - a legitimate thing to do if he expects people to vote for him surely - he resorts to personal insults and hyperbolae.

I suspect the real  Cornish Zetetist would be very depressed to be thought of as being me. Unfortunately, I have to confess that there is no truth whatsoever in Mr Dwelly's assertions.

All this, and many more of his petulant outbursts have now (very wisely) been deleted from his Facebook page.

If you live in Penzance East and you are not happy with mass development in Cornwall then ask Tim why he is keen to implement the Labour policy of building more houses in Penzance than even Cornwall Councils developer's charter is prepared to accept.

You might also want to ask him about his views on social housing and right to buy. If you get any answers then it would be good to hear them as he has steadfastly refused to answer so far.


  1. Or read the details on Cornish Zetetic's blog as to exactly WHY Dwelly wants more houses in Penzance than even Cornwall Council does.

  2. We all know who the Cornish Zetetic is. He is not even a politician. Shows how way out Labour are.

  3. The way Tim Dwelly went so over the top suggests he's rattled. Would be interesting to see which precise bits of your blog or the old CZ piece were exactly 'ill-informed' or 'smear-tactic bile'. But expect a long wait.

  4. The population of Cornwall has been growing at a steady 1.0 - 1.1% a year for the last 20 years (just a bit faster than the national trend). The 42,500 new homes over 17 years does no more than keep up with this trend. It does not even address the current backlog of families inadequately housed. There is an assumption that the new houses all require green field sites - this is avoidable with just a little imagination given the contraction of retailing in Town Centres and the need to find alternative uses for shops on the periphery of Town Centres.

    There is no more important issue in Cornwall than housing. If new families cannot find homes then there will be two reasons to leave Cornwall - lack of housing and jobs.

  5. Not quite sure where you get your stats from Richard (probably the same place that Mark Kaczmarek and his planning officers get them)but I'm sure that they are fairly selective and that many people could find other sources that would tell a very different story.

    What people, like yourself, fail to address is the lack of correlation between building new houses and providing homes for those in need in Cornwall.

    The average house price in Cornwall is around £225k while the average (full time) wage is around £19k. 'Affordable' housing is a sham. When politicians talk about providing affordable housing they are talking in terms of convoluted definitions and 'affordable' does not mean affordable in the ordinary dictionary definition. No doubt we will build 42,500 and the housing need for locals will be the same or worse while the number of second dwellings and holiday lets will have increased exponentially.

    Unless houses are built and tied to local needs we will be building houses without solving any indigenous problems.

    As for building on brown field sites - excellent idea but you won't find any developers going down that route if they have a drastically more profitable greenfield route to pursue.

    Perhaps it's time to consider a land value tax which would force developers to develop the brownfield sites that they are sitting on or face paying for the privilege?

    As for jobs - not quite sure whether you mean housing brings jobs - which clearly (given the evidence of the past 50 years or so) it does not.

    I agree that lack of housing and jobs are two key reasons for young people to leave Cornwall - but we should be tackling this by having a suitable economic policy and focussing on local needs housing.

    Building new houses is not the panacea that growth through housebuilding advocates expect us to believe it is.

    1. You are right-affordable housing is not going to help many people - more social housing at affordable rents is -and control of house prices for the few who can actually get mortgages.

  6. I am so sick of people politicking a scaremongering about the housing figures.

    I would urge every person in Cornwall to check the figures, based on the 42500 in the Local Plan document, for their own area. Figures are broken down by Community Network Area.

    In our own area our Parish and 2 others are classed as 'remainder of the CNA' and shown in table form in document issued for consultation. The figures as they apply to the 'remainder of the CNA area' are;

    Target Provision 2010-2030 350
    Completions since 2010 192
    Commitments Remaining Requirement 158

    That is a remaining requirement of an extra 158 homes to be built in the 3 parishes (not in each, across the whole area) between now and 2030. A quick calculation will show that this works out to 9.875 new houses per year from 2014 to 2030.

    I'll leave it to others to decide for themselves if they think the allocation for our area is excessive, just right or indeed might be too low to meet demand for people living locally, people with connections to the area let alone those people who might be wanting to move to our area.

    For myself based on my knowledge of local need (not the whole homechoice, just those with a legitimate connection to the area) that is simply not enough new homes for our parish, let alone the other two included in that allocation.

    Taking the above figures into account, an allocation of 29000 would be far too low to meet the real need in our area. It is not only poorly conceived but risks, through the law of unintended consequences, to actual damage the ability of local people to get on the housing ladder. I have asked over and over again what modelling the groups who have been advocating the lower figure have done on housing prices in Cornwall. I have been met with silence. Not even CoSERG which purports to be a social and economic research group can provide me with such an analysis.

    Recent UK history has shown that the affect of restricting housing supply, by not building enough housing, has an inflationary effect on housing prices. A particular issue for Cornwall as our salaries are amoung the lowest in the country. I would posit that your target will have the effect of restricting the number of houses on the open market and push up prices. Considering the Cornish have lower spending powers they will lose out to those from other areas of the country where they enjoy greater wages.

  7. Just one multi-part question Tim - What do you think is an affordable price for a house and how many houses do you believe that we would need to build in order to reduce the average price to this price and what evidence do you have to support that theory?

    The inflationary effect of demand emanating from outside Cornwall will always keep prices out of reach for those that live here Want evidence? Look at the last fifty years.

    As for modelling the effect of lower numbers on house prices, this assumes the same old same old policies in the background of the model. What we need are new ideas and new ways of ensuring that market forces are kept out of the equation. It is a basic economic concept that market forces and do not solve social problems.

  8. Ok, I'll bite. Which policies are you proposing to change the market for housing?

    There is a direct relationship between housing supply and price...this is proven by the decline in house building and the reciprocal rise in house prices. Anybody can see this by looking at official housing figures for the last 30 years!

    Therefore the guaranteed way to ensure that the free market has less of a grasp on the price of a house is to build enough houses to meet need. This will allow the market to find its own price level (which would inevitably be lower than it is now) because those searching for houses will have ample choice at the price point they are able to afford...

    BUT you are against building enough houses to meet demand (as my local figures at set at 42K demonstrated) so tell me how you would change the housing market enough to meet local demand at a price point that is possible for a family on an average salary?

    I would generally agree that market forces pretty much never solve social problems so i'm really interested to find what policies you can propose that will solve decades of building too few homes. Improving peoples incomes will only increase competition (and therefore add upward pressure on prices) while there is a housing shortage.

    I notice you didn't bother to comment on my local example of the actual breakdown of housing numbers...far easier to aggregate the number up and scare the hell out of people with images of Cornwall being concreted over...when the reality doesn't support this type of Comparison.

  9. Absolute madness!!

    I don't accept your local figure example for a couple of reasons.

    First it is based on targets rather than actual need. In my parish, Illogan, we carried out a detailed study at the time we made our parish plan. The results showed that we needed around a dozen house to meet local needs - the Core Strategy, broken down to our pat of the CNA, dictated that our 'target' was 350. So the 'targets' in the local plan bear no correlation to to our local need.

    This leads to the second reason. The 'targets' in the local plan have been constructed using a top down estimate and allocation of demand rather than a bottom up estimate of local need - your talk of targets doesn't equate to actual local demand across the piste.

    You say that 'your own knowledge' tells you that you need more houses in your area - is this based on actual evidence or just a gut feeling?

    Basically most of the 'demand' for houses used to formulate the local plan is to accommodate people buying houses who currently reside outside of Cornwall and not to meet local need.

    I also think your economic model is flawed. House prices are high because they have been affordable in the recent past because of easily obtained mortgages and this is what has dampened demand for new houses when that particular bubble burst.

    New houses are not being built because developers can't sell them and make a profit.

    The only way to stimulate the market is to make houses affordable. This will be very hard for many people because of the spectre of negative equity. It would also be very unfortunate for wealthy and influential people who have very profitable property portfolios.

    One policy that needs to change is to actually allow house prices to fall as the free market would dictate.

    However, we have mechanisms that are currently being used to keep prices high because of the political dangers of allowing prices to fall.

    We should also be building more council housing which can be used to meet local need. If, for example, new planning permissions were granted for council houses only then land owners would be faced with a decision to sell land at a lower price rather than holding on for an inflated price because there would suddenly be a much smaller demand for such land.

    We could also introduce a land tax which penalised developers who held on to brownfield sites. in a 'land bank' rather than develop those sites. This holding on to land but not developing it is causing an effective shortage of building land which acts to keep prices high.

    ... and I notice you avoided my 'multi-part' question altogether!

  10. I didn't avoid your Multi part question question...it wasn't addressed to me.

    You reject my local figures because they are inconvenient. My experience is being from a Parish Councillor, looking at the applications we receive, speaking to applicants and social housing providers and more recently from our council doing an analysis of who is on the register and working with organisations like Ocean who have built in our area to understand who is actually filling the homes that have been built by them.

    We have been doing this so we have the evidence needed to scrutinise applications from developers of all sizes in the future. The parish also did it's own housing need survey a couple of years ago however this only captured the need of people currently living in the Parish, not those with links to the area who might want to move back so may well be an underestimate. We do this so we are not reliant with those from outside our area think they know demand better that we as the local council do. All of that work suggests that while housing need is less that the social housing providers would suggest it is still higher than the our slice of the 42,500 target and well above what you would have us accept is a maximum needed to meet local need.

    Er...'my economic model'? What has happened in the UK housing market is clear to see for anybody. It is there in the ONS statistics. Numbers of new houses has fallen and the prices of houses has risen at the same time. There is a direct causal link between the two issues.

    You correctly point out that prices have been affected by the availability of credit. House prices were inflated by easy availability of credit and they have been depressed by a lack of credit. But you fundamentally misunderstand the housing market. Houses have only been more 'affordable' because of ever riskier mortgage products which has allowed people to borrow more than they can afford in order to meet the high prices in the market. That also has the effect of pushing prices higher still.

    "One policy that needs to change is to actually allow house prices to fall as the free market would dictate." What does that even mean?

    So what is your figure of 29,000 if it is not a top down target? Nobody has spoken to our parish about need. You talk about building more council houses but at the same time you talk about setting a much lower 'target' effectively a ceiling. What proportion of that total is council houses? How much new housing would you allow on the 'free market'?

    Your brownfield site policy is only an issue about where new housing goes. It won't bring in new housing supply if the economics for building the housing doesn't work for the developer you still won't get housing on these sites without subsidy watering down things like CIL or Section 106 agreements which then reduces the money that can be used locally to improve infrastructure needed to support the new housing.

  11. Tyrone, apologies for confusing you with Tim. You still haven't answered the multi-part question though.

    Until you come up with some evidence based theory as to exactly how many houses will be needed to be built in order to get the price to a level low enough for Cornish people to afford them I can't see the point for further discussion.

    I think we will have to agree to disagree on housing need and how to address it - we simply won't find much common ground.


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