Last night's extraordinary meeting of High Peak Borough Council was held to discuss and vote on Local Plan progress for this area.
The local papers on Thursday should carry the more detailed reports of the meeting, and formal press releases and meeting minutes etc will appear on HPBC's official website in due course.
In the meantime, here is an informal sketch of impressions gathered during the meeting:
It's the screaming baby that gets the attention
It appears the principal purpose of most Borough councillors in this area is to stop new homes for people to live in. There are some noble exceptions, but that is the generality.
The councillors and their friends have homes to live in. Most of them appear to see their priority as stopping others having the same basic human right so far as this area is concerned.
The homeless, the local young people who cannot afford somewhere of their own to live, the poor people. These are all voiceless, or don't know how to make their voices heard. In practice they are therefore largely ignored by most local councillors.
Instead, councillors give attention only to the comfortable and noisy nimby lobby. They give the impression that nimbys and their inflated house prices appear to be the God that is worshipped by many - not all - of the High Peak Borough Councillors.
The national picture and a failure in social justice
That is the local picture. Nationally, what has happened in recent years is as follows.
The Labour government of 1997-2010 did two long-term things that, taken together, led to the national housing crisis we have today and to the High Peak local councillors finding themselves in the difficulties currently presented to them by the planning framework.
During the Blair government, green zealots heavily influenced all planning and environment policies. The rules governing new home building were tightened and tightened by the influence of the green lobbies. In the end, the new homes being built nationally fell to as low as 80,000 per year.
At the same time, Labour recklessly dismantled the barriers to entering this country. Uncontrolled mass immigration rose and rose, and soon was running at 300,000 net immigrants per year. Not in total. Every year.
Labour government policies meant that the number of people living in the country kept increasing, and the house-building kept reducing.
If you take those two policies together in a relatively small country like this for two or three years, what do you get? A shortage of homes for people to live in. If you keep those policies for 13 years - the period of the last Labour government - what do you get?
Dire shortage and a full-on national housing crisis, especially for young people and the working poor.
That part of the public who turned up
So the public area of last night's High Peak council meeting was like a Nuremberg rally for middle class nimbys. Councillors who objected to new homes were cheered wildly and applauded from the public area.
For example, a relatively tiny number of noisy people from Whaley Bridge with placards claimed to represent the whole town of Whaley Bridge. Clearly they don't.
A succession of public speakers said they did not want houses to be built. Unfortunately, they were not made to declare if they lived in a house or not.
Councillors, votes, and unparliamentary language
|Former songwriter Godfrey Claff|
After a while, Cllr Claff decided the meeting hadn't heard the b-bomb word for too long, so he dropped it again.
Several councillors bemoaned the following utterly ridiculous situation: High Peak tries to settle its local plan, then government planning guidance suddenly and utterly changes course - even while High Peak's plan is being carefully drafted. So a lot of the work and time is wasted.
Last night, the Local Plan got changed in respect of a big development that was proposed for Laneside, New Mills. The change happened by the narrowest of margins.
Due to dishonest Labour councillor Ian Huddlestone having declared an interest in this matter, he had to leave the meeting room. All his Labour colleagues voted to build on the pristine greenfield land at Laneside. The rest of the councillors (Tory, LibDem, Independent) voted against.
The vote was equal. If Dishonest Ian Huddlestone had been present, he would have voted with all his Labour party colleagues and the Laneside field owner would this morning have his lottery ticket. But Dishonest Ian Huddlestone was outside the room and could not vote.
|Candidate for Audiobooks|
Cllr Kemp voted against the Laneside proposed development.
Cllr Kemp's voice is so good that he should be offered jobs reading for audio-books.
Dishonest Ian Huddlestone was then able to return to the council meeting.
Beauty sleep requirements obviously meant that this reporter left the council meeting at 11:00pm. That is eleven o'clock at night. Yes, councillors were attending a meeting at that time. The meeting had begun at 7:15pm.
The councillors hadn't even started on dealing with the Buxton part of the local plan. We await hearing what time they finished, and the further details of their deliberations.
|There's nowhere to build any houses|