“Green belt earmarked for homes ‘that may never be needed’ “

“Swathes of green belt in the heart of England have been earmarked for new homes for people who may never exist, in a trend fuelled by the drive to double the number built annually nationwide, campaigners have warned. …

… The city council believes it needs land to accommodate 42,400 new homes in the next 12 years, based on population predictions by the government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), which predict the population will surge by almost a third between the last census, in 2011, and 2031. Green belt in neighbouring areas, including Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Rugby, has also been earmarked for housing to help Coventry meet its target.

Analysis presented at the British Society of Population Studies, in Cardiff, on Tuesday suggested homes earmarked for open fields were being planned for “ghosts”, because there is no wider evidence of the sharp predicted population growth. Just 15,000 new homes were needed, requiring the loss of far less green space.

“If there has been hyper population growth in Coventry, they are ghosts or vampires,” said Merle Gering, a Coventry-based campaigner whose analysis has been endorsed by leading demographers. “They don’t go to school, don’t attend A&E, don’t have babies, don’t own cars, don’t claim state pensions, don’t use gas or electricity, and don’t put waste into their bins … The net result? The death of the green belt.”

Similar fears have been raised elsewhere. Last week campaigners in Birmingham claimed housing need had been deliberately over-estimated after a scheme for 5,000 homes by 2031, on fields near Sutton Coldfield, was halved in size. In January, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, accused the government of making it impossible to reduce the amount of protected green belt allocated to housing through the use of old population growth figures, which are higher than the most recent projections.

Housebuilders prefer to build on open land because they consider it quicker, cheaper and easier than previously-used brownfield sites. The government wants 300,000 new homes to be built annually by the middle of the next decade – more than double the output over the last 10 years. Campaigners fear planning inspectors are facing political pressure not to query ambitious targets set by councils, even when they involve the destruction of green belt.

“We agree with him entirely in terms of these crazy projection figures,” said John Wareham, the chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England in Warwickshire. “Coventry has forecasts of around 30% increase in population compared to Stratford-upon-Avon and others which are 10%, which makes no sense. This land between large urban settlements has been there for many hundreds of years and is valuable for leisure and for farming.”

Housebuilding targets set by councils are based on ONS population projections but Gering believes the figures for Coventry are skewed by a large number of foreign students, many of whom will not settle in the area. The ONS, which said it was always looking to improve its statistics to inform policymakers, said it used methods assessed by experts in the field and “we look to produce these estimates as accurately as we can”.

A spokesperson said: “We will continue to engage with the group of concerned residents in Coventry, as we would with any users who need assistance in understanding our estimates.”

Coventry city council said the population projections and the green belt site allocations were assessed by the government’s planning inspectorate.

A spokesperson said it saw “no evidence at this time that the housing requirements identified within its local plan are wrong or failing”.

It added it “will continue to work with our neighbours to monitor housing delivery and supply to inform any need to review the plan in the future”.

Gering’s analysis of the 2011 census and ONS predictions found the rate of growth predicted for Coventry was well over twice the regional average. He found attendances at A&Es over the last decade grew faster in Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Burton; increases in car registrations grew no quicker than in many other areas; and birth rates fell slightly as in most areas.

There was a lower-than-average increase in gas meters, electricity use fell quicker than in other areas, school admissions were average and the number of people on the electoral roll remained steady from 2011 to 2017. He also checked the volumes of domestic waste and found that it was trending in line with other areas.”


Were you 14 -15 at the time of the referendum – your vote now counts!

If you were 14-15 when the referendum to leave the EU took place you are now eligible to vote.

Your voice was NOT heard at the time, but it CAN be heard this time.

You are the generation that is fighting hardest to combat the climate emergency.

You are the generation most let down by inadequate funding of education.

You are the generation that has little hope of owning your own home x unless your home-owning parents help you or die.

You are the generation that needs to be heard.

Register to vote:


Exmouth Journal: misleading headline

The headline is:

“Exmouth seafront regeneration talks to no longer be held in secret”

HOWEVER, as the article goes on to say:

following concerns over the ‘secretive’ nature of the new group, East Devon District Council’s cabinet agreed that while the group would meet in private until January 1, the situation would then be reviewed as to if it could be opened up to the public.”


Not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, Tory Exmouth town and district councillor Bruce de Sarum is now a member of the group and he has promised us all complete transparency:


so it’s all fine – isn’t it!

Development and climate emergency: the tale of Mr Fox, Badger and Peter Rabbit

An independent councillor reports on a meeting of Teignbridge Council discussing development in the age of climate emergency: hilarious, sad, worrying.

“Dealing with the Executive is a strange thing. If like me you have a young child and you’re forced to watch Peter Rabbit on CBeebies you’ll be familiar with the sort of relationship the Exec has with members from other parties.
Fox and Badger really want to eat Peter because he’s a.) a rabbit and b.) a twat but, for some intractable reason, they pass most days in cordial coexistence. Fox even helped Peter move a wheelbarrow full of acorns once. This working relationship, you would think, would make the idea of eventually killing, skinning, disembowling, roasting and eating Peter taboo to Fox and Badger but no – they’ll still have a go one day, right after saying ‘Good morning’ to him. I can’t work out if all the animals are congenitally insincere or just good at compartmentalising their impulses.

There’s a similar ominous détente going on around Mr McShear’s vegetable garden. Nobody’s helping us to carrots, but nobody has, as yet, stoved our heads in with a shovel, despite a clear conviction that we are both on the menu and twattish. Captain Hook, whose avuncular eagerness to have everyone on board is a thousand times better than the Count (I said COUNT) of Monte Christophers, helped me get a new ipad so my constituents can actually talk to me again (the IT people sent me a dozen helpful emails about fixing it to the ipad they were fixing??).

Now, you’ll remember, Newton Abbot has ‘won’ £150,000 to help it become a ‘Garden Town’, with up to £9 million more if it does exactly what its told. We at NSN think this is a con to suck TDC further into the houses-for-money bullshit that makes us all do what we’re told for handouts rather than being properly funded and able to self-determine our own projects, as the ’Localism’ Act once promised (well, promised a bit more of).

Councillor Daws made some excellent points about the Mission Creep that drags councils to do one thing after another – Incremental Development it seems to be called. I asked when the council was going to rename the Climate Emergency a Climate Inconvenience, since every other paragraph TDC produces mentions the Climate Change Emergency with all the heartfelt panic of a sloth on mogodone choosing a supermarket sandwich. These windows will mitigate the Climate Change Emergency …. these drainpipes are Climate-Change-Emergency-neutral … this massive new road is being approved because cars going faster will contribute less to the Climate Change Emergency… the phrase is no more than a verbal tic.

I mentioned the article on Bicester (see past posts) – the ’dog’s dinner’ garden town where, in the name of getting people to work where they live, houses abide in the shadow of warehouses. Gordon, who really does know his background material, said that was written in 2015 (he was right!) before Bicester got its ‘Garden Centre’, which had made everything all right now. I didn’t know what he meant by garden centre… has it got a Fermoys?? We are not allowed follow-up questions. But Bicester has been dog-breakfasted by hideous building. It hasn’t been unbreakfasted by building MORE buildings.

Gordon added that he was disappointed – or was it dismayed? One or the other – that I was calling such things as triple glazing mere ‘green cynicism’.
I think the problem is this: Gordon and co live in a world where the march toward the abyss is inescapable, so we might as well put on the nice new boots Westminster has given us and march slowly if we can. When I suggested that, if the Executive truly believed there to be an EMERGENCY (lets put it in capitals til that, too, just makes us shrug) then it should defy Westminster’s housing targets. An emergency doesn’t mean you carry on as normal. It doesn’t mean you stick slavishly to the script. The car is on fire. Shall we stop on the hard shoulder or shall we keep driving the fucking thing to Alton Towers?*

This made Deputy Alistair Dewhirst smirk contemptuously, which is his absolute number one favourite thing to do when talking to us (unless he’s online at midnight, in which case his favourite thing is to type things and then immediately delete them).

In keeping with his late-night ruminations Alistair said that Welwyn Garden City was the best example of a garden town, and that it is ‘the best, most pleasant place to live and work that it is possible to imagine’. Possibly Alistair visited a different Welwyn Garden City to me, or else he passed through on the Magic Bus in the Sixties. Because the Welwyn Garden City I have visited, several times, is an unmitigated shithole. The deputy’s assertion that ‘if Newton Abbot is to become like that, then we will be remembered’ should chill us all to the marrow but it is at least true. Oh, you will be remembered.

Councillor Jackie Hook, holder of the (Compostable) Portfolio For Climate Change, then announced that she had joined Extinction Rebellion and they ALL agreed that it was National Government that had to change its thinking, not local councils. She added that if anyone wanted to lie down in the path of a digger they were free to do so. In precis, all the change has to come from the Big Noise or the Little People. The muscled appendage of TDC, which might actually have some power in its elbow, is not going to flex, now or ever.

We do, at least, get treated gently by the Lib Dems; I suppose because we’re idealists like they used to be, possibly… once – before they got neutrally reprogrammed by procedure. Not so the Tories, who had just been very cheeky. Mr Hook produced an unsolicited letter from some local cohort of business worthies who said they fully supported being bundled into a garden town. ‘Isn’t Jackie on their panel?’ they enquired.

The Tories then lambasted the Lib Dem Council Tax relief calculations saying that they would hurt the very poorest. All were reminded of their excellent track record of voting specifically to hurt the very poorest by Cllr Connet, who called their remonstrations ‘absolute tosh’.

It was all a lot of fun. But the existential problem we have as members of this council – and I don’t see a way around it – is that we are there with a moral argument, in a body that wants only to discuss procedure. So we find ourselves asked to contribute to working groups on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (our contribution: it belongs in the bin) and to the Local Plan (it belongs in the black bin, as no part of it is recyclable), and are constantly told NO. WE ARE MARCHING TO THE CLIFF EDGE TO THE TUNE OF THE BRITISH GRENADIERS* SO PLEASE JOIN IN WITH THE SINGING.

So what can we do, until we can get more of us onto council? I suppose we’ll just keep waiting for death and stealing carrots.

*Obviously I didn’t say the F word in the council chamber, as I don’t want to be in the MDA EVERY week for swearing.

*This in keeping with the 30th anniversary of the Second World War, in which the Germans redesigned our towns to look more like Welwyn Garden City.”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/Liam4college/?__tn__=%2CdkCH-R-R&eid=ARDQFiWLt-1V7yr-UWhnbYLhG-7025qcTpdAJzem7OOVxfz_0pEjE3cIFwYzUsHKSuPr3MS5zzkvSzOw&hc_ref=ARRYuH_r2FD7vNjad1qmLvz1GFcoaEakuz5o-uejwf72fA20k73RJzmTxZpQY6Sx8uI&fref=nf&hc_location=group

“Have your say on the management of East Devon’s Jurassic Coast”

A Jurrasic Coast National Park from Studland Bay to Exmouth? Surely our new ruling group will be keen on that won’t they?

“The organisation that looks after the Jurassic Coast is inviting input from people in East Devon, as it sets out its management plan for the next five years.

A draft plan has been drawn up, and consultation days will be held in Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton for people to learn about the proposals and have their say.

The Jurassic Coast Trust’s work includes putting out information about rock falls and landslips, promoting responsible fossil collecting, educating the public through museums and visitor centres, and giving guidance to local organisations, to ensure that development and tourism does not harm the Jurassic Coast.

Public consultation days will take place on

Tuesday, September 10,
at Exmouth Library;

Thursday, September 19,
at Sidmouth Library; and

Wednesday, September 25,
at Seaton Jurassic.

Members of the trust’s staff will be on hand between 10am and 3pm to talk through the draft plan and answer questions.

Following the consultation, the plan is due to be published in the next few months.”

Clean air: too late for Sidford

“Thousands of lives a year would be saved by reducing air pollution to safe levels under draft legislation to be presented to parliament.

The Air Pollution Bill would require the government to adopt tighter limits based on World Health Organisation recommendations, a key objective of the Times Clean Air for All Campaign.

Ministers would, for the first time, have a clear duty to act on a problem that cuts short the lives of 36,000 people a year, costs the economy £20 billion annually in healthcare and impact on businesses and, if left unchecked, would cause 2.4 million new cases of disease in the next 16 years.

The bill, which has been drawn up by a coalition of environmental groups and air pollution scientists, will be discussed tomorrow at the parliamentary launch of the Clean Air for All campaign. It would also require air pollution monitors to be installed in every postcode and outside every school and hospital.

It will be tabled as a private member’s bill in either the Commons or the Lords and is expected to gain support from MPs and peers of all the main parties. Its supporters hope the government will adopt the measures in the forthcoming Environment Bill.

The government has pledged that the Environment Bill will contain measures to reduce air pollution but has yet to confirm what they will be. Michael Gove said in one of his last speeches as environment secretary that he wanted “a legally binding commitment on particulate matter so that no part of the country exceeds the levels recommended by the WHO”. Theresa Villiers, his successor, has yet to set out her plans.

The Times launched its Clean Air for All Campaign in May with a manifesto calling for a new Clean Air Act to confer a legal right to unpolluted air for everyone in the UK. The campaign also calls for sales of new petrol and diesel cars to be banned by 2030.

The Air Pollution Bill has been drawn up by Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), a charity that has been working on it with the UK100 group, representing mayors of big cities, and other green groups, including Client Earth and Green Alliance.

Baroness Worthington, EDF’s director and a crossbench peer, said: “The current approach to lowering pollution isn’t working.”

The bill would also require the government to publish an annual report on progress and establish an independent body to advise the government on how to meet air pollution targets.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We know the impact air pollution has on communities around the UK, which is why we are taking urgent action to improve air quality.”

Source: The Times