Daily Telegraph touts ’empty homes tax’

“Housing worth £123 billion is barely used in Britain, researchers have calculated, and have called for a one per cent tax on second homes to dissuade people from keeping hold of mothballed property.

A new study by University College London (UCL) concluded that building new homes is not the answer to Britain’s housing crisis as they are likely to be bought up as second homes or investments in the most popular areas.

Researchers collected information from around one third of local authorities in Britain covering 40 per cent of the population and found nearly 340,000 homes that were rarely used.

The majority were in London and the South West and Kensington was found to be the worst, with £21 billion of underused property in the borough.

Around four in 10 people currently live in an area where the average value of barely-used homes is higher than those that are permanently occupied, suggesting that the most desirable properties are being bought for purposes other than use as a home, for example as investment opportunities or holiday homes.

Researcher Jonathan Bourne at University College London, said: “Some of the most surprising findings were the sheer value and quantity of low-use properties in some areas.

“The data shows that low-use properties are very concentrated in small numbers of desirable areas. In such cases simply building more homes is not going to solve the problem, as the issue is intense competition for property, not a lack of places to live.

“An empty homes tax may be more effective, with the potential to generate a not inconsiderable income for local authorities, whilst taxing people who are typically not eligible to vote in local elections, or encouraging them to rent out their properties.” …”


” ‘Major shake-up of public audit needed’ “

“A “radical overhaul” of public service audit is needed to give the public confidence over how its money is spent, according to recommendations from a think-tank.

Increasing financial pressures and people’s dissatisfaction with public services means now is the time for a shake-up of audit for central and local government, the authors of a report for the Smith Institute said.

Tax is likely to increase in the future as a result of demographic pressure on areas such as health and social care, and these can only be justified if the public is “confident” its money is being well spent, authors John Tizard and David Walker told the report launch yesterday.

“Fiscal pressure is likely to rise in the short run, depending on the nature of Brexit. It will certainly grow in the long run, as public spending accommodates demographic change: an older population will demand more health and social care and other services,” Spending fairly, spending well said.

It called for the creation of two new government bodies and more responsibilities given to the National Audit Office to improve public audit.

The NAO would take over audit responsibilities for the NHS and local government, the report suggested.

Authors audit commentator Tizard and David Walker, former head of communications at the Audit Commission, urged for the creation of a Public Interest Appraisal Unit, which would evaluate value for money before spending decisions are made. The NAO assesses government spending decisions after they have been made.

They also said the government should set up an Office of the three Es – equity, efficiency and effectiveness. This body would be responsible for looking at which groups benefit and which groups lose out on certain spending decisions. …”


Newton Poppleford GP surgery: lost, never to be regained

This means that, should the NHS ever regain the funding and doctors it needs, and should the local surgery then be in a position to open a secondary surgery in Newton Poppleford, it can never happen.

Anyone buying a new Clinton Devon Estates house at Newton Poppleford (particularly if they have children, or a chronic health condition or are elderly) might want to think twice if this is a suitable location for them.

And EVERYONE should beware “promises” from developers.

A Devon development site once earmarked for a “much needed” GP surgery is being turned into housing instead – much to the disappointment of residents.

People living in Newton Poppleford have to travel miles for medical care.

It comes as a report from the government watchdog, the National Audit Office, has criticised how community infrastructure projects for healthcare, education, and transport are often abandoned once planning permission’s been granted.

In a statement, the developers Clinton Devon Estates said the withdrawal of the surgery plans was understandably very disappointing, but the decision was made by a local medical practice due to circumstances beyond their control with unexpected changes to NHS policy.


Sidbury, Sidford and snow – a lethal combination for the A375

Developers take heed!

Last weekend, a car slid off the road into the dip alongside the bend in central Sidbury, smashing its windscreen and narrowly missing a row of lowlying cottages.

Radio Devon travel news announced (2nd February) that the Sidford-Sidbury Road (A375) was turning into a skating rink.

Radio Devon travel news announced A375 was closed due to burst water main.

Imagine of that car had been a lorry …..

California abandons high-speed rail link as too expensive

So similar to HS2!
Los Angeles to San Francisco 383 miles for around £60 billion
London-Manchester 330 miles for around £56 billion

At least the Californians had the sense to abandon theirs!

“The big picture: The project was years behind schedule with an estimated completion date of 2033.

It had been hamstrung by political backlash in the state, and polling showed that a majority of Californians disapproved of the plan as costs ballooned.
Similar proposals for high-speed trains on the East Coast, including along the heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, have also fallen apart due to opposition and massive cost estimates, per the New York Times. …”