I can no longer afford to live in the Ribble Valley

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I was interested to read two items in the Clitheroe Advertiser.

First was the letter “Council Threw in the towel”. I couldn’t agree more; our voices are obviously not loud enough, we need our elected councillors to listen to us and then amplify our voices up the ladder to the top. We have unelected inspectors overruling our local representatives and all our representatives do is roll over and follow the rules.

There are times when only anarchy will be heard and we need strong-minded people to start this, unfortuantely we didn’t elect any to the council and our MP is too tied up with his own troubles to be worried about ours. Even before that he was too interested in his own betterment to upset the applecart for his constituents. We are being completely failed by those in a position to do something. However I notice it may be slightly sinking in at the top. Newspaper articles here and there mention that maybe the NPPF isn’t quite robust enough and plans are afoot to tweak it, but it’s all too late for us and that is the Government’s fault, not our local councillors.

The cart was put before the horse our planning rules were discarded before any council had a chance to produce a Core Strategy, or indeed an area had a chance to produce the suggested Neighbourhood Plan, a product of the great Localism idea.

Those who believe a Core Strategy or Neighbourhood Plan will have the power to stop the developers had better think again; they have to be in line with the NPPF, which means they will simply back the party line, to build as many houses as possible.

The second article I noticedhad a proud headline that “New affordable homes go to local families”. Good news indeed, you may think, however these are not what I would call affordable, they are rentals.

Surely affordable means people on lower incomes can afford to buy them, not rent them. Again and again we are told we need houses in the Ribble Valley as people can’t afford to live here. Well, we now have lots of new houses in Whalley and Barrow and guess what – people on low incomes still can’t afford to live here.

How do I know? Because I am one. I have lived here for 12 years, I worked hard to be able to afford to live here. I am now retirement age and recently divorced, my income is low, my share from the sale of our joint property is low, as is my ex’s. I’m also aware we are not the only ones in this position.

I can’t afford to rent, nor do I want to, having been a house owner all my adult life. The “affordable” houses for sale at Barrow and Calderstones are not affordable; they are 50% purchase 50% rental, aside from the criteria that rule me out, as I said earlier, I can’t afford to pay rent.

I see a red haze when I pass the new desecrated plot off Clitheroe Road, where the hedges have been razed to the ground, never mind that it’s spring and birds are nesting. Where a board is proudly displayed for Redrose Homes stating we will soon be able to buy four and five-bedroom homes on this beautiful landscape that will be lost forever, and for what? For more people with more money than sense to move into what they see as a desireable area in a swanky new home with not a clue what makes the Ribble Valley a desireable area. It’s not posh, expensive houses, it’s a community that cares about the countryside and beauty of nature.

Not a Ribble Valley postcode, but what the Ribble Valley contains – beautiful vistas, peace and tranquility, history, birdsong and wildlife. There are old young rich and poor living here and all care about this area passionately. I will be very sad to leave it, but leave it I must and never again will I vote for the people who will ultimately destroy the beauty of our countryside and cravenly ignore their core electorate.

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