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Reply to Halifax Courier article by Linda Riordan MP

July 2, 2012

I did think the move to a once a week edition of the Courier was a bad move, but on relection I didn’t buy the paper every day and some times thee just wasn’t enough news in it to justify an edition.  But I am enjoying it, particularly the page that has been given over to local MP’s and Councillors – Talking Politics.

The 29th June 2012 edition was written by my MP, Linda Riordan.  I agreed with much of what she said under the heading of  “It’s time to give our economy a kick start“. I am a member of the Copley Valley Environmet Protection Group and as such am aware some might think I am anti-building, it being that we oppose CMBC and their partners GenR8’s plans to build in the Copley Valley. But that assumption would be wrong. In the distant past I worked in the building industry and realise how large a sector of our economy it and how many people it employs.

But I would add a caveat to that, the building that is required is for a certain section of the housing market. We read often in the press that there is a shortage of housing and yet we see houses on the market for years – houses at all price levels.  In Copley we have an 8 bedroomed listed property for sale at £800,000 and a member of my family struggled to sell a house at £50,000.

I agree with Linda in that the sector of the market that has the greatest need is the social housing market.

I grew up in a council house and it wasn’t until I married that I bought my own home. Building new homes for rent would employ the same amount of builders, plasterers,  joiners and plumbers and more importantly it would meet a need. It would fill a gap. The Thatcher sell off of council houses was not in itself a bad idea, giving people a chance to buy their own home and giving a sense of social mobility must be a good thing. The mistake was not to ring fence the money generated and not to re-build this section of our housing stock. This is where the focus needs to be.

I suggest too that Local Authorities should be building these houses again. This will mean the profits generated would be able to be kept within the communities and used to generate and regenerate neighbourhoods that have been neglected. Conversley the Copley scheme generates profit for a private company, not even based in Yorkshire.

I am certain at this point the question “but where will the money come from?” will be raised. Well there seems to be no problem in finding money to build a new library, convert the Piece Hall into an Italianate Square or fund the surveys in preparation for the Copley Valley Development, so why should it be any different to build social housing? Think of all the local jobs that could be secured. Long term we would again need a team of joiners, painters and plumbers to maintain the houses. These teams where possible could also be employed by the council to maintain the other neglected assets we own. Notice I say assets, because when we have a growing number of these homes along with public buildings, we have in fact got assets.

Next question will be “where should we build these new homes?”. Well as I said earlier, I grew up in a council house, I lived in Ovenden. Look at Google Earth, look at Ovenden Way. Many of the houses on the lower part of that road have been demolished and not replaced. Same with Ovenden Green. Go up to Illingworth and have a look at the Furnace Estate, same story. Empty plots where homes used to be.

Re-developing these areas will have other significant gains. The local schools will be kept going with pupils from the new families. The shops will have customers again and all these jobs will be secured. We may well attract new people and talents from outside our area to contribute to our town.

I have concentrated on an small area I know well, but am sure Calderdale will have other such neglected, once populated areas.

Linda is on to something with the “Let’s get Britain building again” campaign. But we need to make sure this opportunity is not wasted by focussing on generating profits for private companies at the expense of a neglected, needy section of our society.

All we need now is the will to make this happen.

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From → cbmc, politics

2 Comments
  1. charles gate permalink

    Rather think Linda is responding to the critical letter in the Courier, from the Green Party (signed by me), of her earlier piece that told us how bad things were under the Tory/Lib Dems but she didn’t offer any real alternative in that previous piece. The truth is that the Labour Party believe in as much austerity as do the Tories, but just over a longer period. Any Labour thought of pursuing a growth strategy is an after thought. Linda is a socialist in a pro-capitalist, pro-banker party. She should leave like Alice Mahon did, but she should leave while in office.

    This is the Green Party take on jobs and wages

    Jobs and a living wage
    Right now unemployment is skyrocketing and the government is doing little about it. Our policy is to fight for a fair, stable and sustainable economy.

    Top bankers continue to pocket your money in the form of unearned bonuses, while factories, firms and farms are forced to lay off more and more workers by the day, week and month.

    This must end. Our major and immediate priority is the creation of an extra million jobs and training places. An immediate £44bn package of measures would include workforce training, investment in renewables, public transport, insulation, social housing and waste management.

    These jobs will provide our country with the vital 21st century infrastructure it needs, including an efficient public transport system, homes that are warm and cheaper to run and much lower energy costs for businesses.

    The gap between rich and poor in the UK has never been wider and it continues to get worse. We think it’s unfair that the Government has failed to do anything about it.

    We are demanding the introduction of a ‘Living Wage’. This will help ensure low paid workers earn enough to provide for themselves and their families and eradicate poverty in Britain for good. The Green Party will fight for a National Minimum Wage of 60% of net national average earnings (currently this would mean a minimum wage of £8.10 per hour).

    We will also fight for a fair financial deal with community banks, credit unions and mutuals to provide realistic loans to families and small businesses.

    Our Jobs and living wage policies in more detail http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/jobs_2010.html

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