It is time for the leaders of Mid-Suffolk and Babergh district councils to openly admit the failings in their housing policy and set out what they will do to improve the situation.
At present, we are receiving very mixed messages from our Conservative politicians.
In another local newspaper, Jo Churchill and James Cartlidge were pictured under the headline “MPs join forces in bid to ease housing crisis” and elsewhere we have an anonymous district council spokesman reassuring us that the council has “a number of projects working to ensure our housing delivery”.
In support of this anonymous statement, we can look forward to a joint local plan and “a strategic housing and employment land availability assessment” (whatever that means).
Hopefully, this local plan is the same as promised by the leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, Nick Gowrley, in July of last year when he promised such a plan would be in place by 2017.
The year is half gone and as yet there is no local plan. Also, what, may we ask, happened to Mr Gowrley’s promise that “the council was working hard to help deliver neighbourhood plans in the Mid Suffolk and Babergh districts”?
If this were true, the residents would not be calling for housing plans, nor would our MPs be discussing a “housing crisis”.
In this county, the Conservative Party dominated in both the local and general elections. Apart from Sandy Martin’s election as MP for Ipswich, a result that he surely could not have expected from his party’s showing in the county council elections, the Conservatives dominate at every level of government.
Though there are the inherited failings of the Labour government’s housing policy, the current leaders of our district councils can no longer hide their failings, nor should they attempt to do so.
The failure to deliver a policy is unfair on developers, which need a framework in which to prepare their plans and it is unfair on our communities and residents as they have become powerless to shape their future.
Above all, it is a failure to deliver appropriate housing for the hard-working young families of this county who are our future.
Before this county is turned into a dormitory for workers employed elsewhere, or a retirement home for those downsizing their property or an opportunity for those living outside of the county to augment their property portfolios, we need housing plans to be in place – not just empty promises or anonymous statements.
Anthony M Breen
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