Author Topic: A better borough?  (Read 8499 times)

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A better borough?
« on: April 19, 2008, 11:44:56 am »
I've just read some Conservative Party election material which was posted through our door. There seems to be a contradiction between the local tory councillor's priorities for Brookmans Park and the priorities for Welwyn Hatfield.

Top of the list of the priorities for Brookmans Park is...

Quote
We will work with local residents and the council's planning department to prevent the allocation of additional Gypsy Sites, particularly at Bullls Lane.

On the other side of the leaflet are two promises from Welwyn Hatfield conservatives

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Decent homes for everyone, no matter what their background or age.
and
Quote
A real sense of community, making us feel at home in our own neighbourhoods.

Which priority is right, the Brookmans Park version or the Welwyn Hatfield one?  The Brookmans Park one certainly seems unlawful or at the very least discriminatory.

The law regarding gypsy and travellers policy states.

Quote
Measures in the Housing Act 2004, requiring local authorities to include Gypsies and Travellers in the Accommodation Needs Assessment process, and to have a strategy in place which sets out how any identified needs will be met as part of their wider housing strategies, came into force on 2 January 2007.

Click here for more...

David


« Last Edit: April 19, 2008, 12:49:04 pm by David Brewer »
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Offline Grant Shapps MP

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2008, 01:10:43 pm »
Hi David,

Interesting post and I must say that I welcome the fact that it is now okay to discuss politics on Brookmans.com -- a very welcome change!

I don't think there's anything contradictory in the two sides of the leaflet you mention. My view (and as Shadow Housing Minister this goes for the Party too) is that everyone deserves a decent roof over their heads and that the law should view everyone as absolutely equal in this regard.  The 2004 Act to which you refer is about to be amended by the 2008 Housing Act which will further strengthen legislation with regard to local authorities being mandated to provide additional pitches for traveller and gypsy sites.

However, I guess the main debate is over whether it's appropriate to legislate in a separate way to promote the rights of one particular group of people. That's effectively what the law now does and as a result central government tells the regional quangos (Regional Assembly and Regional Development Agency) to tell local people, in this case Welwyn Hatfield, how many more pitches must be provided. The answer is 17 in our case.

I think this is crazy. We believe that these decisions should be made at a local level, rather than by central government, and that in any case it's hard to justify a law which only applies to one set of citizens on the basis of being categorised as a minority. Good law should apply to everyone and not be made on the basis of creed, religion or which minority a certain group belongs too.

Anyway, I'm very pleased to hear that the Conservative leaflet got you thinking. What have you made of the literature from other political parties by the way?

Grant Shapps MP


 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2008, 01:35:33 pm »
Hi Grant,

Still seems to be contradictory to me.

As for discussing politics, that's always been allowed on the forum, pushing politics (or religion) is not allowed. Check out the guidelines.

Quote
This site's forum exists to enable local residents to discuss local issues. By the very nature of local debate, political and religious points of view will often be part of those discussions. However, this site has not been set up to provide a platform for those wanting to recruit others to their own persuasions. Any posts which contravene this will be edited or removed.

They have not changed. Click here to read them.

And no, there has been no alternative reading.

David
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Offline jet

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2008, 02:35:36 pm »
I am interested as to what is classified as a decent home?
The majority of houses in England would fit into the average Brookmans Avenue garage.
Is the Con party saying that despite the lack of building space that they will sanction the construction of estates with modern detached houses suitable for the 21st century or will they be merely putting forward terraced rabbit hutch style to house the great unwashed that have been created by the policies of both major parties over the last quarter century.
Is the Con party suggesting that one will receive a roof over their head even if they do not have the means to pay for it themselves?
Are they suggesting that a newcommer to the country will automatically be housed by the state whatever their means? IE just as the labour party have been doing.
If so this will only happen by using the taxes provided by those who have worked their way up the ladder over time, through effort and prudence.
Perhaps if the Tories manage to put forward some original policies then they will be taken seriously and re elected. I cannot see it happening though.
Same old script just that nobody had it proof read.
Just like the chance the tories had to champion the cause of the 5M+ people affected by the 10% tax rate abolition but failed to do.
 

Offline barnabus

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2008, 02:58:42 pm »
I am interested as to what is classified as a decent home?


Jet


The Housing Corpration has produced a definition of 'a decent home' in the following report (appendix C) a standard to which all Housing Associations in the country are currently working and which is available here:

 http://www.housingcorp.gov.uk/upload/pdf/Thematic_review_Decent_Homes.pdf

Hope that helps

Barnabus
 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2008, 04:06:21 pm »
Hi Barnabus,

Thanks for taking the trouble to post a link defining what a decent home is.  Back to the point of my original post, I still can't understand why one political flyer can offer such different perspectives on housing.

I can't see how it can promise "a decent home for everyone, no matter what their background or age" and "a real sense of community, making us feel at home in our own neighbourhoods", and on the other side commit to "work with local residents and the council's planning department to prevent the allocation of additional Gypsy sites, particularly at Bulls Lane."

David

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Offline jet

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2008, 05:11:02 pm »
Dave, I would nothold your breath waiting :icon_jokercolor:
Barnabus, waded through it all, most informative. Just to think that people were paid and to produce so many words about something so simple. :)
 

Offline Grant Shapps MP

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2008, 07:11:10 pm »
I can't see how it can promise "a decent home for everyone, no matter what their background or age" and "a real sense of community, making us feel at home in our own neighbourhoods", and on the other side commit to "work with local residents and the council's planning department to prevent the allocation of additional Gypsy sites, particularly at Bulls Lane."

David

It's really very simple. We think that everyone should have the opportunity to live in a decent home (thanks for the official definition), but that the law shouldn't favour one group of people over another.  Laws should apply equally to ALL citizens regardless of background. One way of creating a real sense of community is to have common laws for everyone, not specific laws for tightly defined groups.

I'm somewhat struggling to understand which bit you don't understand or why you think that the leaflet is in any way contradictory, but try me again David as I'm obviously missing something.

Separately, I do have email communication between us where you emailed me to say that you were relaxing your previous very strict approach towards discussing politics on Brookmans.  Presumably your email where you express a political point of view, in this case against a perspective offered in our leaflet, would not have previously been acceptable. But let me know if it is helpful for me to post up that email exchange where you explain the relaxation in the forum rules?

Pleased to hear that our literature is at least creating a discussion. In the past six years I can't recall any other political party bothering to leaflet here which shows their contempt for the voters I guess. By contrast we deliver every single home in every corner of Welwyn Hatfield regardless of whether we have councillors elected there.

Best wishes
Grant.

 

Offline jet

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2008, 07:32:41 pm »
We the people think that:-
That this country should not be fighting a lost cause in Afganistan and Iraq.
That we should not be tied to increasing fuel costs due to a weak dollar and governments that are happy to raise tax via automatic VAT imposition on the retail price..
That the infrastructure of the country has been destroyed by out of control immigration.
That we are being held to ransom over ag and fish due to EU directives resulting in expensive food. Are people aware that the fruits of our diminished fleet are being exported via truck to the continent and far East.
That our manufacturing base has been destroyed by back door Eastern imports via the EU backdoor.
That our education system has been destroyed by multilingual multiculturism that no one asked for.
The list is endless.
So what are the Conservatives going to do about it? Give everyone a house in a credit crisis when the vast majority cannot afford a loan or mortgage.
And as for the weather, global warming? I dont think so.
 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2008, 09:42:27 pm »
Grant,

"Laws should apply equally to ALL citizens regardless of background" triggers this quote in my head: The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread. I do not desire to live near a gipsy site, but I doubt your approch is going to result in fair and equitable treatment for all.

P.S.
We the people think that:-
That this country...

Which country would that be, Jet? The one you live in now or the one you used to live in?
 

Offline stevea

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2008, 10:45:22 pm »
Here we go again - we keep hearing about the gypsies, potential travellers sites etc etc
Have we heard the gypsies point of view? What do they want? Has Grant Shapps spoken
to their community? Were they represented at the Travellers Meeting?  I've never had an answer to that so I assume the answer is no - why not??   Let's hear what they have to say because all of this is so biased.
As for Bull's Lane - isn't the proposed site there illegal in anycase! - and how do we know the gypsies even want to live there!
So come on, once and for all, let's hear their views,whether we like it or not, and cut out all this
backstabbing.
What are the politicians afraid of?
 

Offline Grant Shapps MP

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2008, 11:40:23 pm »
Hi Stevea,

The meeting to which you refer was about the facts of the proposal and was specifically designed for local residents to attend in order to get accurate information about the process. Something that had been rather lacking during Dec/Jan the by-election in Welham Green when a ton of misinformation was put out on leaflets.

You can find full details of the meeting on various threads of the Welwyn Hatfield Forum. Start here:
http://www.shapps.com/forum/index.php?topic=1943.msg20178#msg20178

Now, even if it had been part of the objective of that meeting, it probably would have been difficult to invite along future gypsy/traveller residents who are by definition not yet residents and are therefore unknown.

But just to be absolutely clear about all of this, I am most certainly not a typical reactionary politician who jumps on some kind of anti-traveller/gypsy bandwagon because it might be popular. Nothing could be further from the truth as I work hard for all my residents, including our gypsy/traveller community.

Welwyn Hatfield currently has three gypsy/traveller sites and I have been instrumental in protecting the rights of gypsies in one of them at Barbaraville along the A414. I fought a lengthy and ultimately successful battle to prevent a utility from destroying their quality of life. You can read about it here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/threecounties/content/articles/2006/02/09/gypsies_compost_090206_feature.shtml
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/13/nbarb13.xml

... and I'm pleased to report that the action forced the utility to withdrawn their ill-conceived plans.

So to answer your question about whether I've spoken to 'their community', the answer is yes and it's not at all clear that there's even a need for more travellers' pitches in Welwyn Hatfield, let alone the concept that central government should somehow be able to mandate or second guess an amount.

Grant.


 

Offline stevea

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2008, 12:12:25 am »
Wow! Finally a response - but what are the gypsies views?  The local gypsies in the area will have a viewpoint as
much as those who may move in to the area.
 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2008, 08:34:55 am »

Presumably your email where you express a political point of view, in this case against a perspective offered in our leaflet, would not have previously been acceptable.


Dear Grant,

I have not sent an email expressing a political point of view against a perspective offered in your leaflet.

All I have done is start a thread in a public forum because I found (and still find) two sets of priorities in one document to be contradictory.

David

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Offline jet

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2008, 05:44:25 pm »
John F I am a British citizen with an English Fixed abode and I pay my taxes in Britain. Hope that helps.
I am also someone of mixed culture and dual citizenship who actually lives perfectly legitamitely in both Sterling and Euroland ( something that takes careful compliance with the law)
Unlike some who pontificate about the EU I am actually experiencing what mobilty in cosmopolitan Euroland is all about. It is not the utopia where everyone is the same and all things  are equal. It is just as devisive as before, in fact travelling, working, buerocracy et al are in fact more complicated than ever.
That said I cannot understand the connection between the Conservative shadow housing ministers statement about " Decent housing" and Gypsy/travllers 'dwelling places"
I am not amazed however that Dave asks a perfectly simple question concerning an MPs statement and gets everything but a straight simple answer.
BTW one of the latest Eurodirective is concerniung mandatory hearing protection for Bagpipe players
 

Offline stevea

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2008, 08:48:44 pm »
Grant Shapps - You stated in your last post that you had spoken to the Gypsy community - which ones? - and about what? - and what did they have to say?  May I suggest that you knock on a few more caravan doors and ask if there is a housing problem with the Gypsy community - they will tell you, yes, because the ones I have spoken to say all the existing sites are overflowing with offspring. Where do you get your information from?
 

Offline Grant Shapps MP

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2008, 08:54:09 pm »
Hi Stevea,

Since housing is my portfolio I spend most days listening to various groups interested in housing including reps from gypsy/travellers community from time to time. Specifically I know the gypsies at Barbaraville very well for the reasons explained in my post above and I communicate via letter, email and newsletter with all the other permanent residents in Welwyn Hatfield.

If you know of a group of gypsy/travellers who I haven't met locally, but whose perspective might prove useful then please email and let me know how to make contact.

Grant.
 

Offline stevea

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2008, 12:54:33 am »
Hello Grant.  It's great that you've been involved with the Barbaraville community - what is their viewpoint?
I don't really think that it's up to me to provide thoughts of other travellers within the community - I woud've thought that you should already be aware of their views.  We all know there's a problem - what are all these
'various groups' saying?  By the way, my father was very close to all the gypsies on the Barbaraville site -
and I also spent a lot of time there myself, albeit over thirty years ago. We used to swim in the nearby River
Lee.
 

Offline Peter Hastings

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2008, 09:40:10 pm »
Everyone should have a decent home- thats an ideal.

There are currently special laws aimed at travelling communities-that may or may not be right-Grant thinks not. Thats a political decision.

A consultancy document has come up with Bulls Lane as the best prospective site for travellers in Welwyn Hatfied. If you have read it you will see its a pretty poor piece of work with unsustainable conclusions. I dont think anyone is convinced that that is the best or only site and many are not convinced a site in our borough is right at all. Thats a matter of local practicalities and I would suggest common sense.

So, not sure there is an inconsistency here although the Tories might be a bit rash in objecting to any travellers site: (indeed is that allowed even?)
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2008, 10:18:24 am »
Welwyn Hatfield Councillor Mandy Perkins said at a council meeting on 20th March that "The Council considers that there is already adequate provision within Welwyn Hatfield.  Any accommodation need there might be in Welwyn Hatfield would principally result from the Holwell site”.

The Government is currently consulting on the proposals for more gypsy and travellers pitches in the East of England.  The figures include 17 more in Welwyn Hatfield.  A North Mymms Soc Newsletter is to be distributed in the next few days with a response form.  Please add your name, address, and any comments of your own, and return by 10th May.  Mail it to me (address on the Newsletter) or put it in a collection box in Brookmans Park Newsagents or Welham Green Post Office.  They will be sent to the Government before their deadline. 

Many thanks to all those who help distribute this Newsletter, and to everyone who returns the response form.

Offline Mr Green

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2008, 04:39:17 pm »
I know this is going to be controversial but why are gypsies treated as special case for housing provision?  :icon_scratch:

We don’t reserve other pieces of land for the bespoke habitation of specific groups/communities.

Could you image having an area set aside for the exclusive accommodation of  smokers, homosexuals, northerners, asthmatics or the incurably left handed.

Stevea, I await your condemnation of my views.  :mblah05: :mblah05: :mblah05:
 

Offline sasquartch

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2008, 04:54:10 pm »
nightlondon - exactly my thoughts but hadn't quite decided how to word it.

It's a bit like social housing, the government says lots of things about decent housing for all etc etc, but the reality is that as a respectable middle class white indigenous tax paying citizen who isn't in some special social group I would have zero chance of getting a council house, even if I wanted one.

So I don't see why gypsies / pikies / travellers or whatever should get any special treatment over and above anyone else.

Of course we have to be careful not to upset anyone and be PC, but I suspect this is actually what most people think.
 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2008, 05:13:51 pm »
I know this is going to be controversial but why are gypsies treated as special case for housing provision?  :icon_scratch:


So I don't see why gypsies / pikies / travellers or whatever should get any special treatment over and above anyone else.

Perhaps they have been ignored in the past?

David
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Offline Peter Hastings

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2008, 08:08:30 pm »
I couldnt justify this on ethnicity grounds but I suspect the uniqueness of their way of life is the deciding factor. Isnt it better to allocate sites rather than have them pitch up on roundabouts which dont suit them and dont suit the rest of us either?
 

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2008, 08:27:47 pm »
I couldnt justify this on ethnicity grounds but I suspect the uniqueness of their way of life is the deciding factor. Isnt it better to allocate sites rather than have them pitch up on roundabouts which dont suit them and dont suit the rest of us either?

I guess there are two issues ...1) the appropriateness of current legislation, and 2) whether there are needs to be met and how those needs are met. The concern should be about issue 2.

David
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Offline stevea

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2008, 03:36:11 am »
Nightlondon - Why would I condemn your opinion, albeit your patronising  :mblah05: All I have asked repeatedly, is what are the gypsies views - and I've never had a straightforward reply.

Sasquartch - You're saying what many people feel - fair enough.

Peter Hastings is correct - you both seem to feel that gypsies are the lucky ones - they're not. They have been here longer than you and I - and have rarely been treated fairly. It is better to allocate sites than let them pitch up illegally - it works in much the same way that Council Housing has been provided - to all backgrounds, colours and creeds.

David is also correct - there are needs to be met. It can't just be ignored hoping that the gypsies will move on - they won't just disappear!

Either way, the Bulls Rd site won't eventuate.

Whatever happened to tolerance? To be honest, some of the remarks are turning towards rascism.

A lot of gypsies that you see today, illegally pitched are Irish. If you write a nice letter to a certain political
party in the North of Ireland and ask for forgiveness for these people - 80% of the gypsy problems in the UK will disappear!!  These certain families go around and around the UK causing trouble everywhere they go thus giving a bad name to all gypsies. This is fact. I tried to educate certain readers of this forum about this - but some people obviously don't listen. I think you'll also find that special needs means caravans, not houses!  Who gives you or me the right to prevent people from carrying on with their culture?
 

Offline mungroo

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2008, 06:58:01 am »
Quote
Whatever happened to tolerance? To be honest, some of the remarks are turning towards rascism.

are they ? which ones ?
 

Offline naomi

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Re: A better borough?
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2008, 09:16:58 am »
Mungroo - I have read all the posts relating to gypsies/travellers and I agree with Stevea.  I am also from a minority background and there is no doubt in my mind that there is an underlying factor here. Perhaps when one originates from a minority things are more obvious with regards to aspects of racism.  It also appears that gypsies are being discussed as if they don't exist. I for one, would also like to hear their opinions.
 

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