Potential changes to planning

Admire Conservative Richmond Council for deciding to defy the coalition government’s policy relaxation of planning rules for building extensions. The planning proposals will allow larger home and business extensions without planning permission. Richmond is concerned with the ‘look’ of developments. I am more concerned with the eventual use of extensions. This proposal could lead to even more sub-standard accommodation and cases of “beds in sheds” because families are so desperate to find somewhere to live and landlords reap the profit. Other planning changes proposed has been letting developers create houses in multiple occupation without planning permission. In Brent – and in Willesden Green - there are already too many planning breaches so I hope the planning service will hold on to its influence on what is built. Another concern is the change to the powers of the Planning Inspectorate to overrule projects blocked by councils.  This would leave people helpless to stop thousands of homes being built on their doorsteps. According to Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, this is a blow to local democracy, as the Government is threatening to take power away from local communities and placing it in the hands of a super quango”. 

Chapter Road speed cushions

Chapter Road recently had a resurfacing and residents were pleased with it. That was until some had to cross the central speed cushions. I had a number of complaints that cushion were too high and some were uneven. Highways officers got the contractor to redo the cushions. But with some, problems remained and the contractor had to return to remedy. Third time lucky I hope, but if residents still experience some problems, they can let me know.

Youth unemployment

More than a million people under-25 are unemployed in Britain. According to the “Metro”, Damian Collins (Conservative) thinks that young people without a job should busk to earn their fares to find jobs and to work for less than the minimum wage. 
If this is the Tory attitude to getting young people back to work, it shows they are out of touch with the real world. 
It's certainly a new twist to “get on your bike”…

Cuts in welfare payments

According to the Daily Mirror, a study by "False Economy" has said that disabled people and single-parent families face cuts in welfare payments as councils bear the brunt of Coalition spending cuts. The study analysed 65 local authorities' plans for the new council tax support scheme and found an average cut of 20% hitting the most vulnerable. I first raised the likely impact of the cuts in an earlier blog: "Abolition of the national council tax benefit".  It was clear from the start that particular groups would be disadvantaged. This study highlights what was expected, a big hit on the most vulnerable.