There are three first-class letters in this week’s paper highlighting the rapidly worsening housing crisis.
Elsewhere we read that Lewes and Eastbourne Councils are working on annual budget cuts of three million pounds by 2019/20, which will inevitably impact on housing provision.
Bill Jordan’s letter is particularly incisive. Planning applications I have followed, and in certain cases objected to, work precisely as he says – developers keep up the pressure by slightly altering the plan until it is finally approved. They know the system inside out,they are much more powerful and better organised than we are – and they never give up.
In January, I joined the March for Homes, a very well-publicised and well-organised London protest against the uncontrolled and unsustainable monster that Britain’s housing market has become. Sadly, it achieved nothing, as the ongoing debate and lack of action has demonstrated.
Even more sadly, it is clear that bold,decisive action to reduce waiting lists is not going to be taken by central or local government. Lewes, however, has been the birthplace of such a long list of successful radical ideas that I am confident that we can rise to this challenge locally, and show other areas that communities can act positively when they work together and focus on achievable projects.
Why not pressure the District and County Councils to target themselves in reducing housing waiting lists? They set themselves recycling targets – which is very good – but I contend that the roof over one’s head is a much more central concern. Councils tend to sound very convincing about “affordable homes” – but deliver very little.
With increasing budget cuts, it would be naive to expect otherwise,I suggest that we adopt some of Colin Frost Herbert’s ideas – leaving all councils in no doubt that leaving buildings deliberately empty is totally unacceptable,for example – and make a start on converting the vast numbers of empty rooms above many of the shops in our towns into living spaces.
Because we have to start somewhere.
Independent Candidate,Bridge Ward
Lewes Town Council Election 2015