Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Labour, Conservative & Liberal Democrat High Peak candidates declare war on their constituency

Well, we did promise to examine last week's High Peak Radio hustings in more detail, so we're returning to dissect the words of the three main candidates that featured in that debate (the audio is once again at the bottom on the post) - Labour's Caitlin Bisknell, the Liberal Democrat Alistair Stevens and the Tory Andrew Bingham.

47 seconds in, the debate turns to the housing targets imposed by the Government of the East Midlands upon High Peak Borough Council. All three candidates turn this into a call for affordable housing, but readers need to be aware that this is coded language and does not necessarily mean the same thing as Social Housing (which is actually being slowly dismantled), with affordable housing actually meaning affordable to those on an average wage, something which those in most need of housing can only dream about. It also increasingly means that these homes are 'shared ownership' (i.e. mixed mortgage/rent), a sector which is currently somewhat problematic given the complete lack of mortgages available to anyone on a low income (something which is likely to continue long into the future). In addition, readers should know that the housing targets specify that only a small proportion of the planned units must be 'affordable'.

Thus what we're seeing here is an attempt to justify large scale development on Greenbelt land for a 'projected need', and not necessarily current need, which could arguably be accommodated by the occupation of existing empty homes and the use of recognisably brownfield sites.

The contributions can be summarised thus: Bisknell calls for building on the Green Belt (contrary to local development plans), Stevens thinks the targets aren't high enough (but then he's an estate agent!) and calls for a political united front.

At 2:28, the issue of Cowdale Quarry is raised. In essence, this is a crackpot scheme which, on the surface, seeks to turn a long disused Quarry (over 62 years) into a bottled water plant, but is actually an asset-stripping environmental outrage. Both Bingham and Bisknell decline to comment on the basis that a planning decision has yet to be made, and if they are not elected as the High Peak candidate, as members of the Council they have to make a decision about it.

Which is interesting. Because keen readers will also know that the planning permission awarded by HPBC for the High Peak end of the Glossop Spur has now expired and, if Roy Oldham and Co. are serious, will need to be renewed again in future. Since later in the debate, they both declared enthusiasm for Bypass 2.0, we can only assume they have prejudiced this application.

At 3:39, we get a long rant from all three candidates about the need for Bypass 2.0. Bisknell's support seems not exactly unequivocal, but she goes on to mention the need for a Bypass for Fairfield near Buxton, which is a new one on us ('No Fairfield Bypass' anyone?). Bingham refers to Bypass 2.0 as the 'Glossopdale Bypass', and speaks in favour of it, but makes no promises about funding, saying he will 'fight very hard' for it if elected - Game On then Tweedledumber! The Estate Agent agrees.

The final section is the one we mentioned in our last post - yes, it's our question which we emailed in (though High Peak Radio chose not to mention that, or the blog), and it went as follows:
The 3 main candidates go on and on about reducing Carbon emissions, yet they all support the construction of a Bypass, along the lines of the discredited Longdendale Bypass, but now through Mottram and down into Glossop. The old plan would have seen Carbon emissions increase in this area by 15,000 tons each year. Doesn't this make a nonsense of their claims to be 'environmentally friendly'? Surely the best way to be green is not to pollute the area with more traffic and CO2?
And of course we then had Alistair Stevens telling us to 'get real' because the road would be used for 'green cars' (apparently powered by wind turbines). He must know about these things, after all he's an Estate Agent...

That just about wraps up our little contribution to the 2010 General Election. Just remember: whoever you vote for, the government always gets in. Voting for any of this lot ensures business as usual, which also means a war on the local environment, and that's a war that will not go unanswered in the years to come.

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