Antony Haworth raises several interesting points in his letter and also, rightfully, lays the blame for the current destructive housing frenzy, putting it where it really belongs.
This is with Parliament and central government, as spearheaded by Eric Pickles, the Communities Minister.
Other posts in your paper appear to put the blame on Ribble Valley Borough Council for failing to outmanoeuvre Mr Pickles and his team.
This is true, but understandable given the way the game is unfairly rigged against the underdog and Mr Pickles’ special skills in the field of being highly devious and totally without any intention of taking part in any rational discussion, reasoned argument, examination of the facts or learning from mistakes and experience.
As Mr Haworth rightly argues, there is no housing shortage whatsoever in Sabden (or, for that matter, Barrow, Whalley, Clitheroe etc).
The evidence he presents for this is compelling.
The whole massive building fiasco is based on the false premise these are needed, wanted or in any way useful – at the end of an unprecedented housing market slump there is now so much slack in the system the backlog of available but currently unwanted houses already in existence will take years to clear, even without the negative effects of numerous unwanted houses.
Mr Pickles is completely immune to factual-based evidence; seeing it as an inconvenient nuisance which he has astonishingly been given the power to run roughshod over. He has power without any accountability, which is a dangerous combination indeed. As a result, he simply doesn’t bother with the truth at all any more.
I understand from your pages that Ribble Valley MP Mr Evans is writing “a strongly worded letter” to the Communities Secretary. Well sorry, Nigel, but this will be just a complete waste of your time.
Mr Pickles has skin thicker than the doors of the Bank of England and complaints, queries, well considered arguments, proof, evidence, reasoning etc. all fall off him like water off a duck’s back.
You will undoubtedly get a depressingly idiotic reply that demonstrates he has not considered any of the matters raised, or even bothered to read your letter at all.
Building huge numbers of unsuitable homes that nobody wants, nobody needs and in the wrong place as (a) a panacea for all the government problems and (b) a distraction from government failings, is a trick that has been tried (unsuccessfully) before with disastrous consequences.
In the 1960s this resulted in creating high rise tower blocks - dangerous vertical slums – leading to massive social unrest (e.g. Broadwater Farm) and accidents (e.g. Ronan Point).
More recently, Spain tried out this crazy experiment of building vast numbers of unwanted, unsuitable houses in the wrong places.
They ended up with a country covered with empty, derelict, unwanted white elephants and this eventually resulted in the complete economic collapse of the country and bankruptcy.
The sub-prime lending housing disaster in the States was another example of going down this path.
Of course, in the meantime the Government will somehow still try to spin building unwanted, unsuitable, unnecessary houses as something commendable, useful and a success.
So there is substantial, compelling evidence and examples this is a rotten, discredited idea.
There is really no excuse for refusing to examine whether the basic premise for lurching forward with this daft policy is true.
However, it is stated by Mr Pickles that “you have to build more houses at all costs” – and that’s all there is to it.
Everyone in the Ribble Valley knows full well these inquiries are a complete farce anyway and take place like this:
The inspector has already had his conclusions told to him by the Government before any “investigation” starts and he invariably proceeds to follow orders:
Announce a timescale for investigation
Waste everybody’s time and patience while rational and well-constructed arguments are prepared by the many people it concerns.
Ignore all the arguments entirely – but say they have been “carefully considered”.
Justify daft decision with unsubstantiated and silly statements – anything at all will do.
The game is rigged so the inspector can get away with as many outrageous, irrelevant, unproven lies and flippant remarks as he likes – he doesn’t have to justify them at all.
Mr Pickles will, if needed, supply even dafter remarks, if required.
Of course, there is an extra benefit for the Government that creating a vast number of unwanted, unsuitable, empty homes and saturating an already sluggish market has.
It provides, of course, a nice little earner due to their scandalous empty property premium tax which MPs have engineered recently – creating a new class of people to fine by the back door tax route, so without any right of appeal. This is especially scandalous in, for example, the extreme case of reluctant owners of part-owned leasehold retirement flats on the death of the elderly occupant. These are now rendered totally unsaleable at any price due, in large part to this unfair tax liability, but Mr Pickles, as usual, doesn’t care.
All the longer to bleed his victims dry.
Pendle Street East, Sabden