Letter sent to Bucks Free Press by David Williams, QC. "Dear Editor
You reported last week that Steve Baker told residents that building on the five reserve sites in Wycombe was "inescapable". I disagree.
The Tories have made decisions which have led to the release of the sites but their decisions were not inescapable.
The Tory -led Government and the Tory Mayor of London have made decisions which are forcing people out of London in their tens of thousands. The Government has allowed rich foreigners to buy homes in London and leave them empty as investments. The Mayor has allowed developers to build expensive homes which ordinary people cannot afford. The Government's policies have meant wages and benefits have stagnated and rents and house prices in London have soared. Those tens of thousands of people are now trying to find somewhere to live in the Home Counties and are pushing up demand in Wycombe. The decisions the Government and the Mayor took were not inescapable; they were designed to help the rich and leave ordinary people struggling.
The Tory-led Government decided to make changes to the planning system which has put control into the hands of the developers. It is developers who now determine how sites are developed. WDC have admitted as much and have complained to Ministers - but have been told to go away and get on with it. Those Government decisions were not inevitiable; they were designed to help developers at the expense of local residents.
The Tory-controlled Council could have waited for the general election before releasing the sites. When a Labour Government is elected, it it will give planning control back to the local authorities. The decision to release the sites was not inescapable; it was premature.
When a Labour Government is elected, it will give local authorities powers to stop developers sitting on land rather than building homes. It will ensure that affordable homes are built. It will ensure that sustainable communities are built and not row upon row of houses. It will allow local authorities to decide where, how and when development should take place. Building on the reserve sites is not inescapable.
Steve Baker regards it as inescapable. We do not. Similarly we have not given up on achieving the return of an Accident and Emergency Department to Wycombe Hospital although Steve Baker has. Steve Baker has stayed silent throughout the past 4 months whilst the community has been engaged in a debate over the 11+. Perhaps he regards that as immutable. We do not. But then why should anyone be surprised at this? Conservatism is and always will be about accepting what the establishment or the market dictates rather than doing what the people want. Labour has and always will put people first – fighting for the rights of ordinary working people is in our DNA.
On May 7th Wycombe will be able to choose between a party and a man who will passively accept what power and privilege impose or a local party and myself who will actively fight for what the people of Wycombe want.