Tackling the housing crisis

The housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency. For far too long Britain has built many fewer homes than we need. Unless we build enough to meet demand, year after year, we will find that housing costs rise further out of reach.

Just to catch up with what we need today, we have to build 300,000 homes a year nationally – almost double the current level. These new houses and flats must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure.

Elmbridge borough wants to meet the needs of its people in terms of housing. Yet at every turn it comes up against the elephant in the room – the British government – which undermines local government at every turn.

The Liberal Democrats would empower localities to look after the needs of their own population and their own priorities, rather than being dictated to by central government.

A Lib Dem approach in Elmbridge

What would a Liberal Democrat Elmbridge do to solve the housing crisis if the national government got off our back?

Without restrictions from central government, Elmbridge could:

Borrow funds to build social housing

Elmbridge has the ability to service the loans, especially as interest rates are still at an historically low level. We would be investing in bricks and mortar which is always considered a very safe investment.  Elmbridge can’t though, because the national government heavily restricts our ability to do this.

Get money back when social housing is sold and reinvest this in more social housing

The national government forces local authorities and housing associations to sell houses at a discount of up to £80,000 under its ‘right to buy’ social housing programme, without any compensation to us, the owners. And then, prevents councils from using the revenue they do receive from the sales to build more social housing.

Improve the experience of renting

Elmbridge could ban letting fees for tenants, cap up-front deposits at a reasonable level, and increase minimum standards of repair and services in rented homes. We would Introduce longer tenancies, with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants more security. Elmbridge cannot do this now because councils are prevented from doing this by the national government.  Our national government makes it impossible for Elmbridge to implement all the improvements we could offer to people renting in the borough.

Stop developers reneging on development payments to local councils

When Elmbridge gives permission for a developer to build a block of flats or a new street, this is on  condition that a certain proportion of the build is affordable housing. Alternatively, the developer may offer to pay a sum of money instead. The national government has made a law that allows developers to renege on paying this money once the development is built. This makes a complete mockery of the planning system.

Scrap stamp duty

The national government policy on stamp duty – a punishing 5% on homes over £250,000 across Britain – deters people from moving when they need more space. Instead of  buying a larger property and releasing a smaller one to the market, residents add extensions and loft conversions – making smaller houses bigger and reducing the number of smaller homes for first-time buyers and couples starting a family.

Our view

The national government and the media often blame NIMBYs and local planning for the lack of housing in our country. This is far from the truth. It is primarily the national government’s taxation and spending policy that stops local governments like Elmbridge planning for building the homes needed for healthy communities.

Heathrow third runway – your say

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In  October 2016 the national government announced that the Heathrow Northwest Runway Scheme was its preferred location for new runway capacity in the south east,  and ran a 16 week consultation.

A consultation on the revised draft Airports National Policy Statement is now underway. This is an opportunity to record your views on the proposals.

The revised draft Airports National Policy Statement sets out:

  • the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England
  • why government believes that need is best met by a north-west runway at Heathrow Airport
  • the specific requirements that an applicant for a new north-west runway will need to meet to gain development consent.

The consultation runs until 19th December 2017. For more information click here or phone 0300 123 4797 or go to this page to make a response.

Homes for the future

The housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency. For far too long Britain has built many fewer homes than we need; unless we build enough to meet demand, year after year, we will find that housing costs rise further out of reach.

The perverse position is that we already have enough bedrooms to house everyone.  Properties are left empty and others have more bedrooms than people.  The mix of housing is totally out of kilter.  We have to rebalance the supply of housing to reflect the needs of our people today and for the decades to come.

Just to catch up with what we need to today we have to build 300,000 homes a year – almost double the current level.  These new houses must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure.

On a national scale we would create at least ten new garden cities in providing tens of thousands of high-quality new zero carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport.  Only when homes are built alongside transport, education and health facilities can communities develop robustly.

On a local scale the national government should stop undermining local government.   The Liberal Democrats would empower localities to look after the needs of their own population and their own priorities.

Such action would include:

  • The national government fully funding the right to buy social housing programme.  In other words, if the national government maintains the right to buy for tenants, the discount between the market price and the price offered to the tenant is paid for by the national government.  This sum could then be used to build more social housing.
  • Ending the national government’s restriction of local government borrowing for housing.  This would greatly increase the supply of social housing to meet local needs.
  • Requiring local plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need for the indigenous population – focusing on long-term development and community needs.
  • Improving renting by banning lettings fees for tenants, capping up-front deposits, and increasing minimum standards in rented homes.
  • Promoting longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes.
  • Strengthening local government powers to enforce higher quality standards in private rented properties.
  • Improving protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing and allow access for tenants to the database of rogue landlords and letting agents.
  • Giving tenants first refusal to buy their rented home, if their landlord decides to sell during their tenancy, at the market rate.

In the longer term the provision of extra homes would be assisted by: gradually removing the capital gains tax exemption on domestic property; reforming and gradually eliminating stamp duty; and, introducing a land value tax.  These actions alone will begin to nudge people into considering their house as a home and not as their main investment opportunity.  Not only would this allow people to move more frequently to new homes that suit their needs but would help the economy by rebalancing our savings into investing into industry and commerce.

The national government and the media often blame nimbies and local planning for the lack of housing in our country but it is the national government’s taxation and spending policy that stops local governments like Elmbridge planning for building the homes needed for healthy communities.

Public workers’ pay cap

We believe that the government should end immediately the public sector pay cap and allow public organisations to arrange their own pay structures. For example, Elmbridge borough does not follow national pay agreements simply because we could not recruit the staff we need if we kept pay within the British government’s guidelines. Since the recent dramatic fall in value of the pound the pressures on living standards have been even greater. The English health service is under strain as service demand increases and fellow Europeans begin to leave in anticipation of Brexit. Hospitals are put into the perverse position of having to hire agency nurses because so many full-time nurses are leaving. The British cabinet loves controlling everything. It has jettisoned Europe, it is now attempting to override parliament and it has long since emasculated local and provincial government. The health, fire, education and police services have their own
budgets so why not let them pay what they want and deliver in the way they want without being second guessed by Westminster.

Dominic Raab backs the Heathrow Expansion – the Liberal Democrats will oppose it

Dominic Raab published a piece in last month’s Your Elmbridge outlining the so-called benefits of the Heathrow Expansion.


Read above, or view here on page 20 of 23

As the Liberal Democrat candidate, I find it imperative to respond. A third runway at Heathrow would have a serious negative effect on our community, both during and after construction. The promises are a premature ‘take-off’ and we need to bring the discussion back down to the ground!

Let’s be quite clear at the outset – the case for a third runway at Heathrow has not been made; in fact, the opposite. The national government’s report identifies Gatwick as the better economic choice. Since its release, the figures for Heathrow have been thoroughly dismantled by impartial experts. The government has halved the estimated benefits. Transport for London has tripled the projected costs. On the government’s own figures, the net benefit over 60 years is a mere £6bn.

Have a look at the proposed work.

The runway (red) cuts across the M25 requiring demolition of many homes and businesses and terminates near a nature reserve. The motorway will be rerouted, tunnelling underneath the runway and other major road works will be necessary (blue).

A new Heathrow ‘hub’ (orange) replaces a golf course to the north. The words “amenity to residents” seem to have disappeared from the Raab radar screen! The M25 upheaval will spread across Elmbridge. The knock-on economic costs have not been factored into the decision.

Dominic Raab’s claim that a 54% increase in aircraft traffic will lead to reduced aircraft noise beggars belief! Homes and businesses near Heathrow will need heavy soundproofing, building work better employed constructing new homes. But, for a huge area under new flight paths including Elmbridge, if you want to open your windows, sit on your patio around the barbeque or visit local nature reserves, well it’s ear-defenders for you. The threat to impose fines on the airport for noise infringements won’t benefit the residents and will just be passed on.

More empty promises are made. “No increase in road traffic”! The M25 and interconnecting roads across our community are frequently gridlocked focused around Heathrow junctions. “Air quality will be maintained”! Currently, local air quality frequently breaks health guidelines. A 54% increase in air traffic will make both aspects worse.

The Transport Minister “Suggested that a new rail link connecting Surrey directly to the airport is under consideration”! If this doubly hedged ‘carrot’ happens, a large intermediate transfer hub would appear somewhere in leafy Surrey and a cross-country tract would be converted from nature, farm, housing and business to railway. Shifting the problem does not solve it.

The Heathrow Authority will only meet a small fraction of the cost of the project – billions will come from taxation. But in the time since the start of the decision process, aircraft and communication technologies have been transformed. Do we need this runway at all? With improving seat booking, current passenger capacity would increase by 30%. Superliners that are lighter, quieter and more efficient raise this figure even more, also reducing environmental pollution. Concrete mixer unnecessary! Put your wallet away!

Elmbridge has long been an area of outstanding beauty and tranquillity with its rivers, parks and commons. This is under real threat. It is not too late for us to make our concerns known.

Andrew Davis
andrew-davis.org.uk

Esher & Walton General Election Hustings Confirmed

Hustings provide a great opportunity for local residents to meet, hear from and put questions to candidates standing in the election.

We’re pleased to share the following hustings in Esher & Walton that have been confirmed for the General Election:

Wednesday 31st May – East Molesey

Location: East Molesey Methodist Church, Manor Road, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9JU
Time: 7:30pm to 9pm

Thursday 1st June – Thames Ditton

Location: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Hampton Court Way, KT7 0LP
Time: 8pm

Monday 5th June – Hinchley Wood

Location: St Christopher’s Church, Claygate Lane, Hinchley Wood, Esher, KT0 0AQ
Time: 7:30pm

Hard Brexit will be hard on Britain

The Tories are pushing to cut all ties with the EU regardless of impact. Labour is shrugging its shoulders and saying “Oh well”. It’s up to the Liberal Democrats to make sure Brexit causes as little damage to British interests as possible.

The Liberal Democrats are determined to retain the best of the EU – and that means staying in the Single Market. It’s this market that makes most of our exports possible, brings money into UK businesses and the economy, and enables us to pay wages and invest in national and local infrastructure. What’s more, it plays a key role in maintaining our peace and security.

Andrew Davis is pro-Europe and will do his utmost to stop any government imposing a disastrous Hard Brexit on us all. And he fully endorses the Liberal Democrat plan to put any deal to the British people before it is finalised.

If leaving the EU was to be decided by the people, then they should absolutely also have a say on how we do that.

The Conservative candidate, Dominic Raab, has campaigned hard to leave the European Union and wants Brexit at any cost – wanting to leave both the Single Market and the customs union.

Andrew Davis, your Liberal Democrat candidate, will fight to remain in the Single Market.


Volunteer to help Andrew win in Esher & Walton

Event: Meet Andrew Davis in Molesey

24 May at 19:30–21:30
The Orchard School, Bridge Road, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9HT

We’d like to invite local residents in Esher & Walton to hear from your local candidate Andrew Davis about why he’s standing for election and give you the opportunity to meet him and ask him questions about his campaign.

Register your interest on our Facebook Event

Andrew Davis announced as Lib Dem candidate to challenge Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton and prevent a hard Brexit

The Liberal Democrats have selected Andrew Davis as their candidate in the 2017 General Election.

“People in Esher & Walton should vote for the Liberal Democrats to prevent a hard Brexit and protect the local economy” the party’s local candidate, Andrew Davis has said today.

The Liberal Democrats are standing on a clear platform to prevent a hard Brexit by staying in the Single Market, and want to give the British people the final say on the Brexit deal.

Andrew Davis, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Esher & Walton commented:

“This election is a huge opportunity for voters in Esher & Walton to change the direction of our country and prevent a disastrous hard Brexit.

“People in Elmbridge voted decisively to remain in the EU, and certainly did not vote for the extreme form of Brexit that Theresa May and Dominic Raab plan to impose on us after being backed by Labour.

“For all those who want to protect our local economy by staying in the Single Market and ensure the people have the final say over what comes next, this is your chance.

“The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.”

Elmbridge Liberal Democrats are holding a “Meet Andrew Davis” event on Wednesday 26th April 19:30-21:00 at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Church Road, Claygate KT10 0JP. You can show your interest on our facebook event.

Printed and promoted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats at 18 Lockhart Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 2AX

9,450 new homes – what’s your view?

Elmbridge’s Green Belt is under threat from the national government.  It tells the public that it will protect the Green Belt, but privately Westminster puts pressure on local government saying that boroughs must, from 2018, release the Green Belt for housing development if their local plan is older than 2012.

Elmbridge’s local plan was published in 2011 so it cannot be used to protect the Green Belt after 2018 unless a new plan is produced. Also the national government has said that Elmbridge must build 9,450 houses by 2035.  The new plan must show where these new houses will be built, and if not, the national government will step in.

The borough has four basic options: do nothing and the national government will take over; object to the figure of 9,450 which Elmbridge is currently doing; allow developers to build up in certain places or locate areas of the Green Belt where specific development can take place. Building high is also a consideration.

Your opinion counts – give your option here and for background here