DCSIMG

News editor’s comment: Government has made a mess of the Vale

Adam King - Bucks Herald news editor

Adam King - Bucks Herald news editor

 

Remember those giddy days in May 2010, when Dave and Nick became best friends and ended Gordon’s inglorious reign?

When they weren’t busy gushing about eachother, the pair found time to pen their coalition agreement. And hidden within this were three short paragraphs which would have profound repurcussions for the Vale.

The first was to ‘rapidly abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and return decision-making powers onhousing and planning to local councils’.

This meant scrapping Labour’s hated South East Plan, which demanded that 26,000 homes be built in the Vale by 2026.

Tory-run Aylesbury Vale District Council, which had spent years flapping over where the homes should go, rejoiced.

You see, those blasted Reds had a jolly cheek telling us how many homes we should build – thank goodness that now we were able to set the number ourselves.

Except that, fast forward four years and we find that isn’t quite the case.

A government inspector has just thrown out proposals to build just 6,000 new homes (excluding those that have already got planning permission). His reason, other than the council’s failure to consult with other authorities, is that the figure is too low.

Cue uproar from those same councillors, who now claim there’s a government conspiracy to dump thousands of homes here.

The irony is, had Labour’s policy remained, we’d have had more control over where the homes went, meaning we could have planned for infrastructure like roads a lot better.

Instead, we’re in something like the Wild West, where developers are likely to get permission for homes here, there and everywhere because we have no plan in place to stop them.

The lack of a coherent strategy for the future is confounded by another masterstoke in the coalition agreement, to scrap Labour’s restructuring of councils, killing off any chance of a unitary authority in Bucks (councillors who sit on both the county and district councils, earning a mimum of £16k, breathed a sigh of relief).

As well as saving millions, one council, with its transport and housing departments all under the same roof, would surely be better equipped to come up with a joined-up plan (it couldn’t do any worse!).

Oh yes, the third point? To continue with a high speed rail network – enough said on that one.

The achievements of the government on a national scale remains open to debate.

But here in the Vale, with just three little paragraphs, it has created a right old mess.

 

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