A response to Bill Oddie

The following is a response from UKIP Culture spokesman Peter Whittle to Bill Oddie’s comments about British families  

Profile_Pic.jpgUKIP Culture Spokesman Peter Whittle said: “Bill Oddie’s remarks this weekend, in which he described his shame at being British, and that the size of British families need ‘to be contained’ in the face of over population, were odious and misinformed.

“If they had been made about any other country or its people, he would almost certainly be facing the sack.

“The TV personality, whose salary as presenter of the BBC’s SpringWatch, is effectively paid by British taxpayers, talked of the British as being a ‘horrible race’.

“Such bigoted comments reveal a very distorted view and a complete ignorance of the facts. British families, like their counterparts in Europe, are on average small; indeed the indigenous populations of most European countries have been in steady decline for some time.

“In fact, the current and ongoing population boom in Britain is driven overwhelmingly by mass immigration.

“It might be easy to dismiss Mr Oddie’s remarks were in not for the fact that they are unfortunately typical of an attitude which has been unduly influential in British society for far too long. An unquestioning preference for mass immigration, a disdain for ordinary British people and a distaste for Britain itself, are knee-jerk prejudices all too often prevelant amongst those who shape our cultural landscape.

“We must challenge at every opportunity this kind of ill-informed, self-hating bigotry.”

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Mass Immigration – It’s just not cricket!

The following post was contributed by long term UKIP member and friend , Ilyas Hussein (below)

Iliyas in Ickenham

I am a member of a county cricket club. It was easy enough to become a member – I filled out a form, agreed to the rules and regulations, signed and paid my fee.

Being a member is straight forward enough; I follow the rules on behaviour which includes respecting the rights of my fellow members, even if I don’t like them!

There are privileges for members over and above visitors, like priority access to tickets or private events.

If there is a problem for the club or myself, there is a grievance process. If the issue is serious it can be raised at a members meeting with a vote to deal with it. Ultimately, if my behaviour is unacceptable, I could be fined or even expelled from the cricket club.

 

No one complains about the privileges of the membership compared to those of the visitors.

 

Britain should be like a club. Everyone should be welcome to visit – Some of our facilities are free, others will require a fee. Visitors may apply for ‘membership’, for those additional benefits, which means agreeing to follow the rules.

 

EU laws prevent us from running a pragmatic and sensible immigration policy. We are obliged by EU laws to allow an unlimited number of people from the EU in to our country. There are no restrictions, we cannot apply any rules and we cannot exclude anyone for unacceptable behaviour.

 

As a result British ‘Members’ have no better rights than foreign ‘Visitors’. Visitors now fill schools, hospitals and job vacancies.

 

This creates, and feeds, the national and racial tensions in our society today, causing problems for everyone.

 

We in UKIP would like to regain control of our borders and access to ‘The Club’ – To do that, we must leave the EU

 

Ilyas Uxbridge Mar 2014

Above – Ilyas on the street stall in Uxbridge, March 2014

Time for a sensible debate on immigration

With the end of transitional controls on Romania and Bulgaria on 1st January and the subsequent unrestricted opening of our borders to their citizens under EU regulations, the subject of mass, uncontrolled immigration has emerged as one of the main topics that people in this country are concerned about.

3 Pinocchios

UKIP has been raising the subject for some time now, with our stance being purely about control of numbers to stop the massive strains being put on inadequate infrastructure in this country. This has led to numerous ‘smears’ from the old establishment political parties, from Cameron’s ‘closet racists’ to Clegg’s ‘unpatriotic isolationists’.

More recently, we have been subject to a casual smear in the Guardian by local Labour MP, John McDonnell.

Why John McDonnell is missing the point

On 20th January in The Guardian’s ‘comment is free’ section, Mr McDonnell accused UKIP of ‘bigotry against migrants’ (See link below)

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/20/2015-election-debate-peoples-parliament

For an MP in a working class area to use this kind of terminology is worrying, as it is predominantly the working class who are affected by the huge numbers currently arriving in England.

Social Housing

Homes in HayesWe have over 9000 people on the affordable housing waiting list in Hillingdon, some of whom no doubt he will be trying to assist to gain a place to live. With this in mind, how can loading yet more people in to the area when we are short of housing already be a sensible move? This is not bigotry, it is pure common sense – If your bath was full, you would not leave the taps running!

It also fuels the ‘housing bubble’ , with lack of supply pushing house prices up and having a huge knock on effect in private rental prices. This is further distorted where the council have to get involved to house a certain number of ‘Category A on need’ clients to hit targets and no longer have the stock to do so – Private landlords then charge premium rates knowing they have the upper hand in negotiations, with the council having to use your tax money in the shape of housing benefits to enable those category A clients to pay their rent.

With net migration running at nearly 200,000 per year, (With over 500,000 actually coming to the UK in 2013 according to the Office for National Statistics), we simply don’t have the housing available to be sustainable.

Labour recently put a leaflet through my door stating that they would get at least 200,000 houses built per year – In government between 1997 and 2010, they built an average of 24,299 per year (Source – Department for Communities and Local Government). Even if they do manage to build 200,00 a year, it won’t dent the lists (Presuming the prices are reasonable) – It also begs the question as to where the money will come from?

This situation has also seen the rise of the ‘beds in sheds’ phenomenon, with many immigrants having no alternative but to live in substandard and sometimes dangerous conditions. Most would have been better off in their own countries, but open door migration policies have allowed gangmasters to exploit them with promises of a better life in England. A friend of mine and local resident presented you with a dossier on this in your constituency 18 months ago as reported by The Gazette, yet the situation shows no sign of resolution.

The only sensible step is to stem the flood of people coming in whilst the current shortages are addressed.

Jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled workers

David Cameron 2We have over 20% of our 18-25 year olds out of work, yet we have more unskilled workers coming in to this country to compete with them in the jobs that often give youngsters their first foot up the ladder.

David Cameron’s answer has been to defend this by stating that our youngsters are ‘lacking in aspiration’ and ‘not up to the job’  – That is real bigotry, Mr McDonnell, not a principled objection to more oversupply in the unskilled jobs market.

Indeed, you are the Parliamentary representative for the Rail and Maritime Trade Union (RMT) who recently ran a series of protests about what they refer to as ‘social dumping’ – The undercutting of British workers by cheap overseas labour (Link below)

http://union-news.co.uk/2012/08/rmt-in-dockside-protests-against-social-dumping-exploitation-of-foreign-workers/

It would appear that Comrade Crow agrees with us about the exploitation of foreign workers and the effects on his members – Does that make him a bigot?

Schools

Our branch recently assisted you with the protest about the building of a school on green belt land at Lake Farm Country Park. (Below, with my colleague Ilyas – Did you ask him about bigotry on the day, John?)

Lake Farm protest Nov 13 CD and Ilyas with banner

Whitehall school 1Whilst I am in full agreement that the school should be built on a brownfield site, the underlying reason why there are new schools needed at all is because of the massive surge in immigration and the subsequent rise in birth rate that drives the demand. In 2010, council leader Ray Puddifoot admitted this in the Gazette and said ‘it falls to us’ to provide the new schools.

The Office for National Statistics has released figures in the last week that show 26% of births in the UK are now to foreign born mothers. Moreover, birth rates amongst certain migrant groups are significantly higher than those of British born women from all backgrounds.

In 2011, the average for British born mothers was 1.84 children – The average for those from Afghanistan was 4.25 whilst to Somali born mothers it was 4.19. The Somali figure is particularly relevant in Hillingdon because we have a significant Somali community here, especially in your constituency.

Polish mothers had the highest overall numbers of children born to any ethnic group, with 20,495 being born in 2011 – Again, very relevant in Hillingdon because of the large numbers of Poles living here.

Because of this, it is no surprise that new schools are having to be built at great expense to the taxpayer, when we were closing schools such as Townmead in the nineties because of lack of demand

It is also a concern that many will not have English as a first language, thus disadvantaging them in the classroom and requiring additional support in terms of specialist teachers. This has a knock on effect with all children’s education in these schools and will potentially hold them back when they enter the world of work – Perhaps to be confronted by another wave of unskilled migrant workers, perpetuating the cycle?

 

Time to debate the issues

Uxbridge street stall Oct 2013 with MS MG and Ilyas

There are many other reasons why uncontrolled immigration is harming both our communities and the economy – Destruction of green belt for housing, increased crime through lack of border checks and strain on the NHS to name just a few.

 

Properly controlled, immigration can be beneficial to our country as has been seen in the past, but the last 10-15 years is completely unsustainable based on numbers as I have pointed out in this piece.

 

I would be happy to debate with John McDonnell on this if he so chooses – Indeed, his Guardian piece claims that he would welcome more debate outside of the ‘sterile’ atmosphere of the House of Commons.

 

UKIP will be running a series of free public meetings across Hillingdon in the near future featuring a number of issues affecting our borough – Immigration will be one of the issues discussed no doubt, along with the EU, economy, law and order, HS2 and The Third Runway at Heathrow amongst others.

Rather than asking people to travel to Westminster for a ‘People’s Parliament’, UKIP are made up of ordinary people from all sections of our community who wish to discuss and debate the real issues with real local residents where they live.

Nigel Farage in Beaconsfield Jan 2014

A recent meeting in neighbouring South Bucks saw over 400 people turn out to see party leader Nigel Farage MEP in Beaconsfield (Above), where a show of hands saw less than a quarter of the audience as UKIP members and a lively Q&A was had.

We hope to see you soon for a grown up debate in similar fashion.

Cameron panicked in to fresh baloney on immigration

From the website of Gerard Batten MEP

GB 2 7th July 2010
In a blind panic David Cameron is rushing through legislation before 1st January to limit benefits payments to immigrants.

He is only doing this because he is powerless to stop the next influx of migrants fom Romania and Bulgaria when the final restrictions end. He is desperate to be seen to be doing something in the face of the UKIP electoral threat.

But what do his new laws amount to? The Immigration Bill going through Parliament has been pulled from the legislative programme with no date set in 2014 for its return. The reason given is that there is too much legislation before Parliament to get it through before Christmas. The real reason is because of the growing amount of support from MPs for an amendment tabled by Tory back-bencher Michael Mills. Mr Mills amendment proposes extending the restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians beyond 1st January .

This amendment was gathering support from MPs of all parties, who caught like rabbits in the headlights, fear for their seats because of growing public anger at uncontrolled immigration. Mr Cameron could not risk this amendment becoming law because it would put him in breach of EU law, and they are the master now. Therefore it had to be stopped.

Mr Camerons emergency legislation will say that benefits to migrants will be limited for the first three months. That is not very long, but in any case migrants can still claim benefits for those three months at the rate they would be paid in their one country using the form U2 available from the EU website http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/social-security-forms/index_en.htm

Theoretically the UK can then reclaim the money paid from the migrants home country. This poses three questions: Why hasn’t the UK Government used this procedure before? If it has, to what extent? And if so, how much money has been repaid?

The whole thing is of course more baloney. Mr Cameron does not know how to handle the UKIP threat and immigration because he has fully surrendered to the EU. They control immigration policy not him. He is desperately trying to find a public relations stunt to divert attention – but no one believes it any more.

 

The original article can be viewed at  http://www.gerardbattenmep.com/cameron-panicked-into-fresh-baloney-on-immigration/

 

The day everything changed

Back in December after three impressive by-election results, I wrote an article on this blog (‘The Winds of Change? 01-12-2012) asking if we were about to see a sea change in the direction of politics in England.

St Stephen's Tower and UKIP flag

The tide continued to flow in UKIP’s favour at Eastleigh in February, where Diane James recorded an impressive second place in a by-election , pushing the Conservatives in to third and showing a vote increase of over 20% on our outing there at the 2010 general election.

With the polls showing increased support following on from this, we approached last Thursday’s local elections with confidence and with the media forecasting a number of breakthroughs for the party – Little did we realise just how many were about to occur!

Thursday 2nd May 2013 – The day that shook the establishment

 

With no elections of our own in Hillingdon, branch members assisted our colleagues in Buckinghamshire and Essex.

It soon became apparent that the incumbent Conservative councillors in these areas were very worried about our impact, with the Essex Tories releasing local leaflets focusing on the EU and mass immigration (pictured below) – Subjects that local Conservatives in Hillingdon have criticised us for putting on our literature in the past!

Tory Essex leaflet

Nationally, it also became apparent that Labour finally woke up to the reality that ‘their’ voters are just as susceptible to the UKIP message as traditional Conservatives, with Richard Elvin scoring another by-election second in South Shields to follow on from seconds in Middlesbrough, Rotherham and Barnsley over the last 18 months. These are Labour heartland areas where the Conservatives do not traditionally do well – From a standing start, Richard took 24% of the vote in less than a month of campaigning, denting the Labour majority from the general election result of 2010.

The statistics do not lie – UKIP are now the official party of opposition to Labour in the north of England.

In a frantic final week of campaigning, sections of the media started to highlight UKIP candidates who they claimed had indulged in ‘dubious’ behaviour – Out of over 1700 candidates standing, it is to the party’s credit that they only found 6 or 7 to focus on and all were stood down to face investigation when their actions were pointed out.

It was interesting to see this apparent feeding frenzy, with Tory dinosaur Kenneth Clarke being wheeled out at the weekend to condemn our party as ‘clowns’ and to repeat the ‘closet racist ‘ remarks of David Cameron, a sure sign of near panic in their ranks.

(Further embarrassment for the Tories followed when it was revealed that one of their candidates standing in Rossendale was an ex-BNP and England First officer, link below)

http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/4318940.Darwen_Tories_in_BNP__blunder_/

With polling day looming, political pundits were predicting that UKIP could win as many as 40 seats and deny the Conservatives victories by taking an increased vote share.

UKIP stall Feltham by election 2011

By 4am the following morning, it became apparent that they had massively underestimated the impact that UKIP had made on the doorstep – An email sent to activists by party secretary Jonathan Arnott with just 373 seats reported in showed that we had already taken 43 seats, with over 200 second places and around 26.2% of the vote!

Breaking in to the mainstream

 

By the time the final results came in, it had become obvious that the sea change that I wrote of back in December had come to pass.

The full results can be seen below –

  • 1.25 million votes across the country – more than at the last General Election
  • UKIP won 154 Council seats (including 6 at District/Unitary by-elections)
  • Average of 24.6% of the vote where we stood
  • 17 County Council seats in Kent, 16 in Lincolnshire, 12 in Cambridgeshire, 9 in Essex
  • UKIP will become the ‘official opposition’ or hold the balance of power on a number of Councils
  • The EasternCounties (26.2%) and South East (26.1%) were UKIP’s top two performing regions.
  • 878 UKIP candidates finished in second place
  • 776 UKIP candidates took more than 25% of the vote
  • In wards where UKIP and the Lib Dems went head to head, UKIP took over 300,000 votes more than the Lib Dems
  • In wards where UKIP and Labour went head to head, UKIP took almost 200,000 votes more than Labour
  • UKIP finishes ahead of the Conservatives in almost 500 seats across the country
  • UKIP took the most votes across at least 2 Parliamentary constituencies (Great Yarmouth and Boston & Skegness), possibly more.

What now for UKIP?

 Gooshays by election Mar 2013

With European and local elections in London (Including Hillingdon) next year, the electorate can now be confident that after these elections a vote for UKIP will mean you get a UKIP councillor or MEP, finally burying the standard Tory line that a vote for UKIP lets Labour in by splitting the vote.

Likewise, Labour cannot claim that UKIP are just the Tories in disguise as our gains in the North prove that we are now the natural home for disenfranchised working class voters.

The next year will show what UKIP councillors can do at a local level, where the party encourages them to act in the interests of their constituents and they are not ‘whipped’ to follow a party line ahead of the needs of the community.

A good indication of how that may work out can be seen in Ramsey in Cambs, where UKIP had a majority on the council before the elections.

On Thursday, our candidates were re-elected with a thumping 67% vote share – Proof positive that UKIP have the policies and the drive to make a difference to local communities.

With thanks to Jonathan Arnott for the statistics on the 2nd May elections.

Hillingdon Council and Lake Farm – More short term fixes for long term misery

On Friday 1st March, Hillingdon Council called an emergency planning meeting for just 4 days later to push through their plans for construction of a new school on the green belt at Lake Farm Country Park.

Lake Farm signRegular visitors to this site will have seen how the council’s plans have been progressed on this issue in what can only be described as an ‘irregular’ manner, from the initial decision that there was an ‘overwhelming need’ for a new school overriding the green belt status of the site, through test coring being seen by local residents prior to any planning permission being given, through to the decision to slip the planning application through at the end of the last planning meeting before Christmas with an 8th January deadline for objections(Maybe in the hope that we wouldn’t notice over the festive season?)

After the December submission of the plans, UKIP Hillingdon activists went door to door in the area with details of the proposal and where to put your complaint in to, whilst John McDonnell MP took another march through Hayes Town to raise awareness. On top of the petitions already submitted, this must have made the council very aware of the strength of local feeling against use of this land for the new school and may well explain why they convened the March 5th Planning Committee on such short notice to try and force it through.

Central & South Planning Committee Meeting

Arriving at the Civic Centre straight from work for the 7pm start, I could see that a large part of the council chamber was taken up with familiar faces from the meetings and protest marches that I had participated in throughout the year.

Taking my seat, I picked up the public document pack and planning drawings that were provided and listened to the presentation being made by the planning team at the front of the hall.

The statistics presented pointed out that there would need to be an 18% increase in primary school places between 2012 and 2020 and that the three wards surrounding Lake Farm (Botwell,Pinkwell and Townfield) had all shown an above average increase in need for these places of 21% between 2001 and 2011 based on census data – This compared with a 13% increase across Hillingdon as a whole in the same period.

The reasons for these increases were explained to be immigration,increased birthrate and new housing that had been built in the area increasing the local population.

It was pointed out that after the construction of the new school, 87 % of the country park would be left intact and that various ‘landscaping’ features have been built in to the proposal to limit the impact on the surrounding environment.

Also wheeled out at this point on a slide (Which was not in the provided information pack) was a graph of surplus vs shortfall of school places based on ECS SRP 2012 figures that was supposed to back up the council stance on the construction of a 4 form of entry school. This created a stir in the room as John McDonnell forcibly made the point that this information had been withheld in all the previous submissions and seemed to be a ‘smoking gun’ put in to the room for the express purpose of directing towards building of the school without the chance of the figures being checked before a decision was to be made. Chairman of the meeting Cllr John Hensley threatened to remove the MP from the meeting at this point if he did not calm down.

Lake Farm Country Park

Once order was restored, Mr McDonnell put his case that the proposal was flawed and that the council should be looking at 3 forms of entry in total, not 3 forms of entry in one school.Indeed, it was put to the committee at this point that government education officials were meeting with Guru Nanak school in Hayes within 24 hours to discuss 4 new forms of entry there which would render the need for 3 new forms at any of the sites unnecessary.

It was also pointed out that there are ongoing discussions about an additional form of entry being added at Rosedale school.

Unfortunately, the planning committee decided that these additional places could not be taken in to account as there were no concrete plans in place – A request to delay decision on Lake Farm until a report back on the expansion of Guru Nanak was flatly ruled out, despite the delay needed being just a few weeks.

Representations were then put forward by a number of local people who had petitioned against the development.

First up was Scott Dick who put the case from the local dog walkers perspective, followed by Peter MacDonald who pointed out that if this was allowed to go ahead and over 10% of the park goes then the council would be back at a later date for more as had been seen down the years in other developments.

Linda Chapman then put the case for the walkers,joggers and exercisers whilst the final presentation came in the form of a particularly eloquent speech about traffic and air pollution issues from David Mackie.

Local councillors followed putting their points forward – Janet Duncan asked why there was a need to build a school so big and what the council termed as the ‘special circumstances’ that led to the proposal whilst touching on safety issues (Please see note at the end of this post), Phoday Jarjussey spoke of additional congestion and Mo Khursheed brought up the original use of section 106 money from Stockley Park development that led to the creation of the country park.

This final point I found particularly interesting, namely that in order to build what at the time was called ‘The Trident Site’ at Stockley Park that money paid to the council by the developers under Section 106 rules was used to replace green areas lost in that construction and the money was used to cultivate Lake Farm Country Park. Effectively, the council had ruled previously that the green areas needed to be replaced and had used taxpayers money to do it – Now they were saying that they were prepared to ignore that need and ‘write off’ that investment. The planning officer dismissed this by saying that under ‘special circumstances’ this use of section 106 money was not relevant, but despite pressing from both Cllr Khursheed and Cllr Duncan refused once again to give a definition of ‘special circumstances’.

Alternative sites were also asked about, as the committee kept insisting that 26 sites had been assessed and found to be unsuitable – After much pressing, they gave the list. I didn’t get them all down, but some were quite laughable (The Woolpack public house on Dawley Road, for example) but they had also written off such viable alternatives as the old Hayes Swimming Pool and the Vinyl Factory on the EMI site. (In view of their decision to build on green belt, it was also ominous to hear that they had considered Minet Country Park, showing that the council have their eyes on a number of previously off limits sites.)

They claimed that the swimming pool was unsuitable because there were a small number of parking spaces on the site that they were contractually obliged to offer to the community centre opposite and that the ground was polluted – The latter assertion was challenged by David Mackie who used to maintain the emergency valves under the pool, but his point was ignored.

They didn’t give an answer on many of the others, including the Vinyl Factory, but reading between the lines it is clear that such sites are earmarked for prestige housing developments which will be out of the reach of local people to afford and will merely compound the school shortages issue by bringing yet more people in to the area.

After around two hours of debate, a vote was taken on the planning committee and the plans were approved with all the Conservative councillors in favour. A fire alarm was then triggered, and we filed out of the front of the building to be confronted by a large sheet suspended between two lampposts as can be seen in the picture below

Lake Farm banner

Short term gain for long term misery

This is not the first time I have been present at a planning meeting where the decision already appears to be made before anyone enters the room.

Back in 2011, the planning committee approved house building on covenant land on the Glenister estate off of Minet Drive. The argument then was that they were just giving planning permission and that for the covenant to be enforced would require legal action, which upon checking with a solicitor I was advised would probably cost in the region of £80,000 to pursue via the courts with no guarantee of success.

Ironically, it is sites such as these that have led to the need for more school places in the south of the borough.

During last year’s hearings in to Hillingdon Council’s local plan, (The blueprint laid down for planning in the borough for the next 15 years), 75% of the borough’s total new housing was planned to be in Uxbridge and the Hayes/West Drayton corridor. We were also advised that our open spaces would not be under threat and green belt would remain protected, yet within 12 months the council has ignored this pledge and is attempting to build on Lake Farm under ‘special circumstances’.

So what are these ‘special circumstances’? If we are talking of a population explosion, that can hardly be called unexpected. Indeed, with the Local plan concentrating development in the south of the borough then the need for additional infrastructure in the way of school places has been guaranteed.

So, why the green belt land that was supposedly not at risk? There are adequate brown field sites available to construct a school, but according to Councillor Dominic Gilham ,who voted in favour of Lake Farm destruction, “We will not educate in disused libraries,bingo halls or cinemas.We are Hillingdon Conservatives we look after are (sic) residents” (Sent to me on Twitter) Actually Dominic, I feel that there are other reasons why you don’t build on brown field sites – Firstly, it is more expensive than just hacking up another swathe of green belt and secondly, those ‘brown field’ sites are already earmarked for selling off to your developer friends, thus creating more overpopulation and even more need for additional school places.

With the impending arrival of Crossrail, development companies are becoming increasingly interested in the real estate around Hayes and I feel that this certainly colours the thinking of planning committees who can see advantages to selling off public land for a quick profit.

Whilst regeneration of Hayes and West Drayton is vitally important to the wellbeing of our community, this is turning in to a double edged sword. For example, the aforementioned Vinyl Factory on the old EMI site is being developed in to what looks like an impressive project, but the downside is the additional strain it will put on existing infrastructure such as transport links, the NHS and schools. Section 106 money paid by the development companies to the council is supposed to be used to prop up such infrastructure, but as seen at the planning meeting  with regards to the 106 monies used to build Lake Farm the council have a short term vision for it and are happy to write it off when circumstances require. There is still confusion surrounding where the 106 money for the Glenister Estate has gone!

Moreover, a lot of the developments that are being planned do not fit with the existing needs of the community.

Currently, we have around 9000 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in Hillingdon. Now look at the High Point project in Hayes Town centre that was supposed to be part of the regeneration – Once the social housing aspect was allocated (Most to people from outside of the borough and with no real community links here), half of the buyers for the final ‘Navigation block’ were overseas investors as uncovered by Jack Griffith reporting for the Gazette in March last year.

Such investors subsequently let the properties out privately, which with the shortage of affordable housing in the area then become expensive homes for the low paid in the private sector subsidised by state housing benefit. Meanwhile, those investors see their ‘asset’ appreciate in value as the shortages continue.

This is not just happening in Hillingdon, but across London – The balance between housebuilding to support the community and housebuilding as an ‘investment opportunity’ needs to be balanced far better than we are seeing at the current time, both from a community and a public cost point of view.

Lake Farm Country Park Demo 3

Why Lake Farm is the wrong choice

In sitting through the planning committee meeting, there were a number of points put forward that were glossed over or ignored.

Firstly, with a meeting the next day between education officials and Guru Nanak school, plus the proposed Rosedale additional form of entry, why did the committee not grant a small delay of say two weeks to see what other proposals would be put forward? Why the unseemly rush to get this through against the wishes of the local community? With figures brought forward on the night without prior disclosure, what other circumstances behind the application have not been put before the public for scrutiny?

Congestion issues have not been properly addressed, either. My friend Dean used to live in Goulds Green and would sometimes pick me up for work from Cowley High Street when my car was off the road – This trip would take him the best part of an hour in morning rush hour with the congestion around Merrymans Corner. Indeed, Transport for London have already asked questions concerning disruption to bus services on the Dawley Road based around the Lake Farm proposal, with London Mayor Boris Johnson also raising concerns a couple of months back. We were assured on the night that those concerns had been addressed, but no details were put forward.

With the road being so busy, this also poses real safety issues where young children are concerned – Dawley Road already has some safety issues, and the traffic calming measures that are being proposed to cut back on this will just cause further congestion without taking away the very real threat to the health of the children both by vehicle impact and through pollution caused by queing cars,buses and lorries.

Peter MacDonald also made a very valid point about the council coming back for more green belt land if this was approved. Primary school children become secondary school children, and where will they go once they have completed their primary education? Would we then see more green belt land taken on Lake Farm under ‘exceptional circumstances’ for a secondary school? After all, the committee said that 26 sites had been assessed and found unsuitable, so looking a few years ahead where would they suggest that the secondary school could be sited?

Personally, I found the reasons behind turning down the old Hayes swimming pool quite superficial. The parking spaces that the council are ‘contracted’ to supply could easily be renogotiated and relocated to the site in Pump Lane that is shortly to undergo upgrade work and is rarely full. The ‘contaminated ground’ excuse was pretty clearly disputed by David Mackie from personal experience, but even if it was the case then surely the ground could be treated and this sorted out? My gut feeling is that the council have already decided to sell the land for yet more housing development, despite both the central location of the site and the readily available transport links making it more suitable than the green belt land. Again, such short term thinking will merely fuel yet further need for school places.

Combining a small development at the old pool site with additional extensions at Rosedale, Guru Nank and possibly Hewens College would surely make more sense from a point of view of spreading the load across the infrastructure in Hayes and utilising existing public transport links.

I am sure the council know this, but it would be cheaper for them building on green belt rather than brown field sites, plus they can sell the brown field sites to developers for decent money whilst they are unable to sell green belt land.

Call me cynical, but Hillingdon Council built the old Townmead school on green belt land because of outstanding need – When that need was no longer there, rather than returning it to green belt they put a housing estate on it, an estate they would never have got through had it still had protected status.

Lake Farm protesters 5-3-13

John McDonnell MP and protesters outside the Civic Centre after the Lake Farm decision

A local Issue – But a National Problem

With the coalition government desperate to kick start the economy, they have passed measures making it easier for councils to justify destroying our green spaces. Whilst the economy must be a national priority to give us all a better future, the thinking behind this move is flawed from the very outset as seen by various points in this post.

Locally, our council have an atrocious record of ignoring the wishes of the residents when it comes to major decisions about construction in the area. Local people should have the final say when it comes to such issues.

Nationally, this crisis of both affordable housing and school places has been created by the policies of open door mass immigration of the Old Labour government and the failure of the current one to bring the numbers down. The last census results showed that population growth locally was three times the estimate put forward by Hillingdon council in the late nineties (Source – Hillingdon Council website).

The pressure will be further ratcheted up next year when the last of the old Eastern bloc EU countries, Romania and Bulgaria, see all transitional immigration controls removed, allowing free movement of all citizens between those countries and other members of the EU. The figures are unclear, with the government refusing to state how many will come and Foreign Secretary William Hague revealing on the BBC Politics show a fortnight ago that he can’t give a number as ‘We (the government)don’t know’.

Independent think tank Migration Watch say fifty thousand per year, whilst a poll conducted by the Bulgarian National TV channel suggested that 54% of their total population of 7.5 million would like to come here.

Whatever the real figure, with Heathrow Airport in the borough then the initial pressure for housing and services will fall once again on Hillingdon. 

Locally, we need to put in place a mechanism via referendum that will allow local residents to have the final say on issues such as Lake Farm, whilst at a national level we need to get a grip on mass immigration to ease the pressure on our creaking infrastructure.

Funnily enough, I know of just one  political party that has the policies in place both locally and nationally to achieve these goals – That party is UKIP.

 

Note re ‘special circumstances’ comment from Cllr Janet Duncan. Cllr Janet Gardiner has contacted me to point out that this objection was raised by her and not Cllr Duncan. Whilst this is not my recollection,I am happy to put this amendment on to my post in case there may be a factual error by myself. It is also gratifying to know that this blog is now regularly followed by local Labour as well as Conservative councillors – First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you, then you win! (Gandhi)

 

CD in Yiewsley Feb 2013

Cliff Dixon is UKIP Hillingdon chairman and will be standing in the 2014 local elections in Hayes