More Homes yes but obviously not here!

Today I attended a meeting of the East of England Housing LIN (that’s Learning and Improvement network to you and I) as I hosted the organisation at West Suffolk House in Bury St. Edmunds.

I gave the welcoming address and then we heard about some of the pressing issues facing Registered Housing Providers from Jeremy Porteus Director of the organisation.

As the day progressed I reflect on my years in the Housing industry; it’s a industry focused on making money from building houses nothing more nothing less and yet here today with the Affordable Housing requirements and the lack of government money in the Social Housing sector it’s the commercial housing builders who are the life blood of providers if they re to address the housing needs of the growing numbers of younger people in Suffolk who can’t afford to buy a market priced property.

I have in the past got on my hobby horse about the need to build more houses as in the area I represent there is a lack of social housing, coupled with a higher than usual rental market due to the USAF bases; younger people are simply forced to move from their family and friends to find homes to star their adult lives, this has to be wrong.

Yet as a Councillor if you actually stand up and say we must build more homes and indeed you say oh and that means right here in our community, well you’ll get slaughtered for it, and if that sounds too simplistic an arguement, well got to any community meeting and pose the proposition, as I have over many years and see the reaction you get, there is no issue that faces Councillors where true Leadership is required is required more than this one.

It’s a very British thing, everyone agrees we need to build more houses and that everyone should have a decent standard of home, but hey ask them if those very same houses should be built in their community and almost universally you’ll then hear the cry’s of yes but obviously not here!

Anyway I digress! The main reason we were hosting the event was for Dan Gaul, Head of Shelter and Safety, Adult and Community Services provide details of Suffolk Flexicare’s work in profiling the demand needs of our aging population in St. Edmundsbury and across the County. Armed with this data providers should be able to work more closely with planners simply because for the first time the actual demand for an area is being estimated not on some global or regional basis, but planning area by planning area, town by town and eventually Super output area by super output area (don’t you just love government anachronisms! – this means the village or urban area level, no idea why they can’t just say that but hey there you go). Once we have this data, planners and District and Borough Councils will have to share the responsibility to plan suitable housing for our aging population just as we (SCC) have to plant the care services of the future and that is what Suffolk Flexicare is all about.

A rainy day in Norwich

On Friday evening I got lots of texts and twitter comment’s after my fleeting appearance on the national BBC Six O’clock news saying I looked glum at the results at the Norwich City Count.

The VT was a bit unfair as just out of shot was a one of our candidates who had collapsed as we were leaving in the early hours of Friday morning and was been attended by Emergency Services paramedic we called, I was turning around and not glum but concerned for his health and there was the camera!

The loss of Great Yarmouth was a big disappointment particularly when you see how hard Steve and the Conservative Team have worked to improve the town, we can only hope that the Great Yarmouth Labour party are less useless than the Norwich Labour party who ‘help’ run Norwich City Council so badly.

As we campaigned I was genuinely shocked at the state of Norwich City Council’s housing stock, when I think of the level of investment that Registered Social Housing providers are putting into the standards of their stock for their tenants, the Labour group on Norwich City Council should be hounded from office, not voted for.

In Norwich North I got the real sense that our voters were not minded to come out to vote as a sort of policy of non-co-operation but that the Labour party vote was well motivated, there is nothing new about this phenomenon but I know how frustrating it is for candidates who are determined to try to change the Council, to not be able to get a foothold or in the case of Great Yarmouth continue their excellent work.In Ipswich we won the county seat which was a silver lining on an otherwise cloudy day.

Mervin King said before the last election the party that wins the next election will not win the one after that, given the scale of what they have to do and the economic climate they have to do it in. This weekend we saw France and Greece be wowed by the ‘crisis what crisis’ brigade and it will certainly be interesting to look back at the crash of 2007 and the recession that followed and see who was right.

Who says there is not real differences in the Political parties, on the one hand you have the kitchen table economics of the Conservatives whereby when money is short you must however painful ‘tighten your belt’ and the Labour Party’s spend, spend, spend your way to a better tomorrow! Time will tell, but somehow the first just seems right to me.

I shall continue to campaign to get this important message across, and the important fact that however tight the money I shall continue to demand that the councils I represent my community on delivering good services with less money and keeping the Council tax to a 0% increase, again and again.

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