NHS launches legal proceedings over massive housing development

No S106 money to help provide health services, guess who controls Harborough District Council? Conservatives 22, Lib Dems 11, Labour 1 – Owl

Dave Owen www.leicestermercury.co.uk

Leicester’s hospitals have launched proceedings in the High Court over a massive, 2,750-home development planned for a swathe of land outside Lutterworth. The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is seeking a judicial review of a decision made by Harborough District Council in relation to the scheme.

Health bosses are unhappy with the authority after it turned down an application for just under a million pounds towards health services for future occupants of the development. The NHS Trust which runs the city’s three main hospitals had requested the money to mitigate the impact of residents’ healthcare needs.

The planning application, submitted by Leicestershire County Council, was approved by the district council in May this year. The new homes will be built on a 550-acre area of land just off Junction 20 of the M1.

Companies behind major developments are required to provide money towards the local community and infrastructure, such as health services, schools and leisure facilities. Such contributions, known as section 106 agreements, are legally binding and enforceable.

Opponents of the housing scheme claimed it would put undue pressure on local services in the town, which has a population of 9,500. However, council leaders had assured residents that the new homes would bring in “as much as £1 billion” in investment, including new schools a parks. They also said it would create new opportunities for businesses and create an estimated 2,500 new jobs in the town.

Provision of those aspects of a development are frequently funded via section 106 agreements, with the planning authority setting out what it requires a developer to agree to fund before it will issue planning permission.

But in this case, the district council approved the Lutterworth development without asking the developer to pay the money to fund health services which had been requested by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Now the Trust has asked for that decision to be reviewed by the High Court.

The Trust claims that such a large housing scheme will place a huge burden on existing health services, including Leicester Royal Infirmary. It says that the homes will create an extra 3,487 people who will rely on health services it provides – and it needs the money to help pay for it.

Richard Mitchell, chief executive at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We have sought a judicial review to support our aim in making sure the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have timely and safe access to health care services.”

Patient campaigner Zuffar Haq said he understood why the hospital trust had resorted to taking legal action against the district council. Speaking to Harborough FM, he said: “This is very rare. Ideally, they should have been able to get the money from the 106 agreement but they’ve obviously failed.”

A map of the Lutterworth East site

“We’re talking about a million pounds, and it is going to affect hospital services in Leicestershire. That million pounds is sorely needed I’m sure,” he added. “The reality is, if there is going to be over 2,000 new houses, the hospitals are going to have more people coming in from that area.

“They need the funds and the infrastructure to deal with that. I think the hospitals will struggle, and are struggling, for finances and have every right to be asking for that money and making sure that it gets delivered, because otherwise it’s going to affect the patients.”

The judicial review process will see a judge decide if the planning authority acted lawfully in making its decision.

A spokesperson for Harborough District Council said: “We can confirm that the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has issued judicial review proceedings against the council.

“The claim relates to Leicestershire County Council’s planning application at Lutterworth East, which was approved in May 2022. It is therefore inappropriate for us to comment while the case is ongoing.”

A Leicesteshire County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware that the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is challenging Harborough District Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the Lutterworth East scheme.

“As both landowner and applicant, Leicestershire County Council is an interested party in the proceedings and will not be commenting further whilst proceedings are ongoing.”

Thatcher ministers turn on Liz Truss over tax cut plans

Tory grandees who served in Margaret Thatcher’s final cabinet have warned that the former prime minister would never have approved of Liz Truss’s plan to slash £30bn off taxes funded by borrowing, as Rishi Sunak denounced his opponent’s plans as “immoral”.

Michael Savage www.theguardian.com 

With a bitter row over tax emerging as the defining issue in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, three members of Thatcher’s cabinet told the Observer that she would have taken a dim view of slashing taxes at a time of high inflation.This follows repeated claims that Truss has attempted to model herself on Thatcher in her attempt to win the leadership, which she has denied.

Chris Patten, Norman Lamont and Malcolm Rifkind all said that the former Tory leader would not have supported the tax-cutting plans. Patten said: “Margaret Thatcher was a fiscal Conservative who did not cut tax until we had reduced inflation. She was honest and did not believe in nonsense.”

Norman Lamont, a senior Treasury minister under Thatcher, said: “Mrs Thatcher strongly believed that cutting the deficit came before cutting taxes. She also believed that deficits were simply deferred taxation.” Malcolm Rifkind said that he was as “certain as I can be that she would be very unimpressed by funding tax cuts through increased borrowing, even if it wasn’t at a time of high inflation – but certainly when it is”.

“She believed that tax cuts should be funded either by economic growth that was already producing more revenue, or by cuts in public spending,” he said. “That’s what Thatcherism means. I think every single Tory, as well as lots of other people, believe in the desirability of tax cuts. But no Conservative would ever see it as an ideological imperative.”

Sunak, the former chancellor battling to defeat Truss in the race to become prime minister, described Truss’s plans as “immoral” on Saturday, warning that they would push up inflation, increase mortgage rates and damage the economy. He has also pledged tax cuts, but only after inflation has been reduced.

“Not only do I think it’s the wrong thing for the economy, I also believe that it’s immoral because there is nothing noble or good about racking up bills on the country’s credit card that we pass on to our children and grandchildren,” he said.

A spokesperson for Truss said: “Liz’s plans for tax cuts will reward people for their hard work and effort, allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money. You cannot tax your way to growth.”

However, there are already concerns that the domination of tax cuts and plans to reduce the size of the state will see the Tories failing to hold together the coalition of traditional Tories and new “red wall” voters that secured the party an 80-strong majority at the last election.

Rachel Wolf, co-author of the 2019 Tory manifesto, said the leadership candidates needed to start talking about the agenda promised to voters in newly won seats to ensure the gains made at the last elections were not squandered. “This 2019 offer won by a landslide,” she said. “Every single focus group that we’ve done on myriad areas has confirmed that this offer is what people look for. I think when they make a judgment at the next election, it will in part be on the ability to deliver beyond the tax cuts in 2022, 2023 or 2024. I think they need to start talking about this.”

Wolf pointed to a new report by her Public First consultancy and the Health Foundation thinktank, which showed that voters were aware of the health inequalities that Johnson vowed to tackle as part of his levelling up agenda. The research found that 37% of 2019 Conservative voters would be less likely to support the Conservatives at the next election if health equalities, including lower life expectancy in poorer areas, worsened.

Wolf said that a failure to follow through on such commitments risked fostering populism on the right. “My fear is that if we don’t start showing an ability to understand and deliver on the kinds of issues that this report talks about, then voters who were very frustrated because they wanted change and who are feeling poor right now will feel rightly, desperately disappointed. It makes them much more open to populist arguments. I think there is a very high risk of a new right wing resurgence of [Nigel] Farage or potentially worse.”

The latest Opinium poll for the Observer found that Sunak is seen as slightly more likely to be a “good prime minister” by the general public than is Liz Truss, although the number who have no opinion of Truss is twice as high – suggesting that she remains unknown to many voters.

The poll found that 43% backed Sunak as a good prime minister, while 45% said he would be bad. Only 36% said Truss would be good, while 41% said she would be bad. Among 2019 Tory voters, 59% said Sunak would be good; 35% said he’d be bad while, 55% said Truss would be good; 29% said bad.

£18million Investment Fund plan submitted by East Devon District Council

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has submitted an Investment Plan to secure UK Shared Prosperity Funds to help level up the local economy and support local communities.

Dan Wilkins www.midweekherald.co.uk 

Following EDDC Cabinet approval on July 13, the plan will unlock East Devon’s allocation of £1,796,363 to be spent over three years.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) replaces the European structural funds, with spending now being determined locally to more effectively address local needs.

The Investment Plan sets out twelve separate themes, to be delivered either locally or collaboratively with other local authorities in Devon:

  • Action on Poverty Fund
  • Active Travel Fund
  • Business Support Programme
  • Disability Employment Support Programme
  • East Devon Council for Voluntary Service
  • East Devon Culture Programme
  • East Devon Leisure Programme
  • East Devon Towns Feasibility Work
  • NEET Employment Support Programme
  • Net Zero Innovation Fund
  • Retrofit Programme
  • Sustainable Tourism Fund

A local partnership group of stakeholders has played a key role in reviewing and advising on actions to be included in the Investment Plan and a panel of East Devon councillors will provide guidance and oversight on how these are delivered

Local authorities from across Devon are exploring ways to work collaboratively and align their Investment Plans. This will help achieve improved results across a wider geography with better value for money.

Cllr Paul Hayward, EDDCs portfolio holder for economy and assets, said: “The Investment Plan will unlock essential funds for our local residents and businesses, enabling a range of initiatives across East Devon. The Plan reflects local needs and opportunities as well as addressing key priorities such as supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.    

“I would like to thank local businesses, community groups and other stakeholders and partners who have helped to shape and develop the Investment Plan. Local support and buy-in is key to ensuring the funds will have the maximum impact on the ground.”

We look forward to receiving Government approval later in the year so we can start delivering this extensive package of initiatives.  

A decision is expected by October 2022.