BORIS Johnson’s claim that the by-election defeat in Chesham and Amersham was due just to local issues is yet another of his pork pies.
Admittedly HS2 may have been a factor, but the main reasons why a 16,000-vote Tory majority was turned into a 8,000-vote Lib Dem victory were opposition to and disaffection with the Brexit deal and, above all, the Government’s planning policy.
Theresa May recently warned that the Government’s planning proposals would amount to “removing local democracy, cutting the number of affordable homes... and building over rural areas”.
The new planning policy, which is based on zones, will, for those living in areas specified “for growth”, mean that people will have absolutely no right to object. Developers will be able to build as and where they will. This will inevitably put pressure on areas of green space, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is where developers, of course, prefer to build.
For the big developers not only pay the piper – they have given a reported £891,000 to the Conservative Party in the first three months of this year – they also call the tune in most aspects of planning.
Not only that, but they find it profitable not to build out in the knowledge that land and property will increase in value with time. Developers, too, have little incentive to build the kind of houses that the country actually needs, namely genuinely low-cost, energy-efficient housing to buy as well as housing for social rent, all in the right places.
So do we really need more executive-style, over-priced houses scattered throughout our precious countryside and even more second homes pushing up prices so that local people cannot afford to rent or buy?
From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.
WELL done the good burghers of Chesham and Amersham for this slap in the face to those foisting HS2 and yet more housing estates upon them. The more so as it was achieved without transferable voting: the protest vote might have been split several ways.
It should indeed be recognised as a protest. The Lib Dems cannot carry forward the platform which gained them the seat. This was hypocrisy and opportunism on their part, being wedded to the notion that the whole world is entitled to a place in Britain.
They and the Greens must be challenged on their logic of ever more people without more transport infrastructure and building.
This is not just an issue for the South-East. Only Scotland claims to want more people.
The Conservatives must recognise, as Labour was already having to, that dumb party loyalty is over. A party with only rhetoric to offer against population growth will be punished at the polls. Being the least bad party is no longer good enough to get the vote out.
From: AS Brown, Liversedge.
THE surprise defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election for the Conservatives caused me to take a closer look at their planning reforms – not least because of worries over the proposed Amazon factory on green fields near Chain Bar in Cleckheaton.
I was shocked to see the transfer of powers from residents to developers that is in the Tory Planning Bill. Even former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has said “local residents will be left with no say over new developments”.
The Batley and Spen by-election doesn’t seem like a time to vote for another Tory MP, but instead to elect someone local like Kim Leadbeater who has spoken out against projects like Amazon that would concrete over what green spaces we have left.