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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Housing Numbers - Lessons to be Learned

I have been putting off blogging about the latest decision on housing numbers for Cornwall. Such a wide range of issues coalescing in one figure of 47,500 makes it hard to know where to start.

I could take the Tory scam of using a 33k headline figure to attempt to generate a party political coup. In some people's eyes, this is where the decision taken on Tuesday begins. But that's the point - Tuesday's decision is a result of years of hard work by a small number of councillors and planning officers. For the Tories to come along at the last minute and drop what they hoped would be a vote winning bombshell was breathtakingly hypocritical and cynical in the extreme. We are now three years into the twenty year plan (and the Tories led the council for two of those years) and only now do the they come up with this scheme?

Their plan was dishonest (the figure of 33k turned out to just be a basis with almost unlimited potential to spiral higher by tens of thousands) and amateurish (the numbers simply didn't add up - in some areas extant permissions already exceeded the numbers they were quoting).

It is absolutely clear that the main concern was how to garner votes and not the best interests of Cornwall. For example - the plan wasn't even supported by all of the Tories. Scot Mann - a PPC for the Conservative party voted against the plan and in favour of the high numbers. Despite this the usual Tory suspects were abroad on social media trying to create the impression that low numbers = Conservatives and high numbers = Lib Dems. When it was pointed out how Cllr Mann had voted then suddenly, in his case, it was high principle - heads we win, tails you lose!

The only party that has concistently and doggedly opposed high housing numbers for Cornwall is Mebyon Kernow. Where were any of the Westminster parties or the Independent 'Group' when it came to the consultation on the 'Core Strategy'? Only MK put forward a detailed and evidence based reply to that consultation - none of the other political parties could be bothered back then and they only want to score party political points now.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that, last Tuesday, the arguments were all about how to come up with a plan that would be approved by Westminster and not about what is best for Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow knows all about this frustration. This is what gives us purpose - democracy for Cornwall instead of imposition from London. Fighting this imposition is what gives us a broad depth of knowledge and experience in this area. We know and fully understand the extent of the harm that the lack of capacity to make our own decisions causes Cornwall. And this is why we know how best to fight back.

Mebyon Kernow has Cornish interests at its very core. We have formulated policies which concentrate on making the difference in Cornwall. We are the only political party which has a housing and development policy which is tailored purely for Cornwall's needs. We don't believe in a presumption in favour of growth like the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour.

MK will go into the consultation period on the Local Plan, with well researched, evidence based proposals for a housing number of 38k. These figures do add up and can be defended under scrutiny. They are the result of many hours of work put in, not just by MK members, but by people who have a serious and genuine interest in keeping housing numbers down.

Dr Bernard Deacon has commented that it is a great pity that pro-Cornish campaigners haven't been able to come together to make sure that Cornwall Council stands up to Westminster. I would agree - and I would call on everyone, who doesn't want to see Cornwall covered in concrete simply in order to fuel the profits of big developers, to back our campaign and unite for Cornwall's sake.

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