Local Matters with Mione Goldspink
I am writing this article at the Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth. An important issue which is being discussed is the lack of affordable housing across the whole country. It is an absolute scandal that so many people find it impossible to pay sky-high rents, and the chances of affording a mortgage are depressingly slim. A further complication is the introduction of Universal Credit in the benefit system, and this is likely to make rent arrears bigger, with consequent evictions, homelessness, and the use of bed and breakfast for vulnerable families - causing misery to the families and more expense for the taxpayer.
More houses are needed, but they must be affordable, and they must be sustainable, with all the necessary infrastructure- roads, parking spaces, facilities etc. As Liberal Democrats, we are looking at ways in which local Councils could be empowered to build small groups of houses in sensible places, using local builders and local craftspeople, instead of relying on the few giant national companies.
My criticism of the Bishop's Stortford Neighbourhood Plan for the south of the Town, in respect of the possible development of 750 new homes to the south of Whittington Way, was that it was not nearly strong enough in stipulating what needed to be done to make this development sustainable. It was interesting that only 15% of the people registered to vote in the recent Referendum on this Plan actually voted, with 78% of them voting in favour of the Plan. 85% of people entitled to vote stayed at home.
Attention now turns to the District Council's Local Plan, which sets the standards for all development across East Herts. The Public Enquiry, concerning this Plan, will begin on October 3rd in Hertford. This Plan proposes to take some land south of Whittington Way out of the Green Belt and to allow 750 houses and a large secondary school to be built there. My view is that this should not be allowed until the south-east section of the Town's Bypass has been constructed, in order to reduce the pressure that the extra traffic would put on the Town's congested road network. Hockerill crossroads are already at full capacity, and the air there is heavily polluted - this junction must be protected and pollution reduced.
Chairman, Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats
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