I think everyone recognises the need for new housing in Britain.
We are always being told this is so, especially the need for affordable housing.
The Government has stuck with its belief that the private sector will deliver these houses. Affordable housing has been the reason spun by ministers to justify house building wherever it has occurred.
We learned recently that the developers have persuaded the Government to drop this requirement for certain developments, such as those suitable for rural villages. So from where are we going to get the affordable houses needed?
Some people confuse affordable houses with social housing. They are not the same thing. Affordable houses are needed for the young and those on lower incomes who want to live and work in the Valley and who the area needs.
There will be a disastrous effect on the Valley’s age profile without affordable properties coming onto the market.
The developers hate affordable housing, as they can’t make the thousands of pounds they make on a four or five bedroom house. What is particularly annoying is that the Government always sides with the developers and here is yet another example.
There have been several items questioning the effectiveness of our MP in combatting the developers’ land grab in the Ribble Valley. Mr Evans has supported everyone who has objected to developments, turned up to meetings, brought planning ministers to the Valley, held meetings in Parliament with local representatives and so forth.
Has any of this made any difference to the outcome of anything? No! So what could he do to help?
We’ve seen him involved with a petition from Longridge residents which he presented in Parliament, we’ve seen him as chairman of the North-West group of Tory MPs pictured with George Osborne.
What the members of the Save Whalley Village group want to see is something with more clout. Instead of congratulating George Osborne, Nigel and his colleagues should be berating him about the effect of all this building on the residents of their constituencies.
When Brandon Lewis, the latest housing minister, announces that local plans are at the heart of the Government’s reformed planning system Nigel should be challenging him in the House of Commons to explain that local plans are there to enforce Government housing targets, not to give choice to local residents.
Greg Mulholland MP has proposed a bill which would balance the rights of developers and those of local communities. It contains some excellent measures to give local people what they really want. We have been asking Nigel if he will support this bill by speaking and voting in favour of it. Despite several attempts we have had no answer.
Would he be prepared to vote against the Government on such a bill? Would he vote against the affordable housing rule change? Would he make the ultimate sacrifice and resign his seat in protest at the way the Valley has been treated? Now those are real gestures!