Councillor Chris Ash, Liberal group leader on Peterborough city council
With so many reports of this or that crisis both here and on the world stage this week I have found it impossible to concentrate on one single issue . I cant help wondering if we are mirroring the 1930s, and 80 years on, the result does not bear thinking about
Britain is going from crisis to crisis with Brexit, housing, health and I am sure you can add other concerns. Yet there seems little leadership from those at the helm who seem to be chucking around the same old clichés .
Another that wrangles is just how little of our industry is now in British control .
Britain was once a world leader in manufacturing and Peterborough had a number of renowned companies producing quality goods on a much larger scale than today .
On Tuesday I heard on the news that General Motors are now planning to pass control of Vauxhall to a European subsidiary .
I also read that due to a change of a railway franchise about 70% of train operators are in foreign hands. A good deal of those companies are state owned by European countries. So much for private enterprise and competition. If we really are going to survive Brexit and get back into global trading then one of the things we do need is sound leaders of industry to get us going .
Then there is the NHS crisis that seems to be going from worse to catastrophic .
Where will it all end ?
One issue that needs more than a passing mention is housing, or more to the point, lack of good quality rented accommodation at a price that is generally affordable to people at the lower end. When I grew up most people I knew, including my family, lived in rented accommodation.
Margaret Thatcher did much to encourage home ownership through the “right to buy”. I am sure it got many people on the property ladder who were wise to take advantage of the offers. However, the serious downside was that it took a lot housing stock out of the rented council and housing association sector. In my view the current housing crisis is the inevitable result. Houses were lost for renting, but not replaced.
The shortage in housing stock in places that people want, or need to live, has pushed up prices and in turn created a shortage at the lower price range - and so the spiral continues . Subsequent governments be it Labour , The Coalition or back to Conservatives don’t seem to be able to break out of the spiral. In the meantime, cash-strapped councils have sold off land mostly to developers who are not willing to provide more “affordable” homes. That simply adds fuel to the problem . So it seems to me with Haddon hardly started, releasing more open land is not the real answer.
Locally it seems our fiery problem that lingers on is the St Michaels Gate fiasco, which was mentioned by BBC1 on Monday. I give credit to Cllr Seaton for taking on the interview and facing up to the fact that errors were made. Pity Steff and Phillips were conspicuously quiet.
I would not want to suggest that there was any malpractice by the cabinet , and take it that they supported officers who thought they were doing what was best. I do, though , still struggle to work out the logic of taking over housing for the homeless only to have to find accommodation for the existing tenants in the very same homes .
I cant help feeling, perhaps unkindly, that Sir Humphrey Appleby (in the 80s comedy Yes Minister) is alive and well and influences town hall thinking .
I fear with so called devolution this will worsen , but that gripe is for another time.
Ah well, the gloom of January seems behind us . I can only hope that our winter of discontent is made glorious by the summer and that perhaps things aren’t as bad as they seem.