For almost the last 30 years there has been a shortage of housing in fact lets not be PC about this there has been an abject failure to build houses at the rate required to match national and local need. Housing experts and economists will tell you that housing supply is an “inelastic demand” put simply there is never enough house available in the right place at the right time, and at the right price.
Well thank you Mr Economist for stating the blatantly obvious, but we have to deal with the reality of what is happening. The appetite to solve the housing problem after 30 years is now becoming critical and what have the Libdem Conservatives offered? Confusion and warm words. If the LibDem Conservative government is committed to “Localism” then allow the Swindon people and their council the resources and freedom to solve their own housing shortage. We have the space, but little resources, there are many restrictions placed on the finances and yet the demand of the ever growing numbers of families wanting accommodation is being met by temporary solutions from existing housing stock numbers in this town.
People travel to work in Swindon and people live here but travel out to work. This demonstrates that housing is not a local issue it does not fit within the electoral boundaries that confine Swindon. The need to work with our neighbouring authorities is something we cannot ignore as pressures there will drive people here to look for housing, which is already scarce. Swindon council has for almost 40 years been entrepreneurial and innovative in providing housing for all sectors of the community and all tenures. The Old Thamesdown was way ahead of its time in tackling, planning and delivering housing for people in this town.
The current Conservative administration shows complete disregard for that successful trackrecord of acheivement and heaps derision on it by refering to it as the borough of Thumbsdown. This disregarding of history means that they have not built on the lessons of cutting bureacracy, strong partnership working and neighbourhood planning with the community leading the process. What is needed for the future is a plan that needs to be drawn up during the next 2 years whilst the tide of building is on the ebb. So that when it surges this council is ready to start with its plan to satisfy the housing needs in Swindon.
In Wiltshire the council is forging ahead with its policy of total community place with its aim to have a single community plan that covers its 500,000 population and its diverse communities. It is ambitious and is being built from the bottom up from the smallest hamlet and parish through to its cities and conurbations.
Labour in Government pioneered plans for Strong and Prosperous communities. Labour’s future plans for housing in Swindon will have to be no less ambitious than those of one of its forerunners Thamesdown borough Council and far more inclusive than the current Conservative administration. We will be willing to grasp localism by the scruff of its neck and shake it up to make sure that ideas are not floated from the top and then pushed down onto a bewildered community. Come and join Labour and contribute to the future of Swindon and have your say about housing.