Saturday, 4 April 2009

People power

Today I joined a march with several hundred other local people from the Camborne area to protest against plans to impose crackpot house building targets from central government on our community.

The event was organised by Jean Charman, the energetic town mayor for Camborne, and the non-party Trelawney Alliance group.

On Friday evening we had a bit of rain and I worried that this might carry over to the following day and affect the march. But all was fine. It was breezy but we had a strong turnout and made our point well. Three political parties supported the event: the Conservatives, Mebyon Kernow and the UK Independence Party. But more important than that were the hundreds of local people who wanted to make their views known.

There are currently around 18,000 homes in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area. Some studies suggest that there is a need for around 2,000 new homes to be built to satisfy local need. But these crazy targets have nothing to do with local need and would force the building of some 11,000 new homes - a two thirds increase in housing stock which is simply unsustainable.

There are some important plans to regenerate Camborne Pool and Redruth. But when it comes to the number of new houses that should be built,I believe this should be determined by what is needed locally to go alongside that economic regeneration. It should not be based on some crackpot policy from central government.

The political parties supporting the protest had a chance to set out their views. I wanted to get across the importance of the cross party nature of campaigns like this and why the Trelawney Alliance was doing so well. But I also wanted people to realise that things can change if they are willing to take a stand. A future Conservative government would abolish these housing targets and give local councils the chance to revise their local area plan. There are elections coming up for Cornwall Council this June and it matters who is in charge. Everyone should challenge the candidates seeking their vote on their views.

Mebyon Kernow and UKIP also expressed their views. There were a couple of Lib Dem activists skulking in the background as observers who declined the opportunity to explain their position when offered the chance to speak. I hope they work out what they stand for before the elections this June.