I had the following letter published in the Herald express on Saturday and I have had such a big (and rapid) response I'm publishing it here for comments as well:
"I was shocked by the item in the Herald Express last week the proposed expansion of Torbay to 160,000 citizens planned for us by an unelected guano based in Taunton.
There were three points among the many gems in her report that people in Torbay should be worried about in particular:
1)It was revealed in the article that Torbay is already providing the bulk of the South West's 'affordable housing' stock and we are already building far more 'social housing' units than we need to.
This is a policy that really needs to be challenged - are we building to provide affordable housing for local people as we have been promised? No, (as evidenced by the sad letter you printed a few weeks ago by a Brixham family who have been waiting for help from our authority for 13 years).
Are we providing 'social housing' to accommodate increasing numbers of 'economically inactive citizens' (in other words, benefit claimants) from other parts of the UK? -Yes.
Is that what local residents thought they were getting when the Lib Dems promised to fix the supposed 'problem' of young people moving away from the area (as they always have and, affordable housing or not, they always will)? - No way.
We should look to provide decent housing (and not one-room bedsits as originally proposed in Torre) for those families from the area who are in genuine need of help as a matter of priority; but we should limit the provision of subsidised housing units so that it matches only local needs.
2)Of all the areas in the region it is Torbay that has been singled out for 'high' growth while neighbouring districts are let off with the 'low' growth option - Why us?.
Why should Torbay be singled out to build 500 homes annually when Newton Abbot, with better connections and far more space available is only going to have to provide 200?
It is a completely false premise for the authority to link the word 'regeneration' with squashing hundreds of new homes into what little space the borough has left. Successful towns expand because of a growing economy, you don't create economic regeneration by simply building thousands of low cost homes whether the area has jobs or not.
Far from creating new wealth such over development will only speed Torbay towards unpleasant urbanisation and decay of the environment leading to a yet greater degeneration of the local economy.
3) These 'strategic plans' -once agreed- become binding on all future council planning committees even if control of the council changes hands. One of the reasons the council were so keen to stuff hundreds of tiny flats on the Torre site was because of 'obligations' under the existing 'structure plan' agreed by the Lib Dems a few years ago - forcing today's councillors to make decisions irrespective of current residents needs and wishes.
We must wake up to the dangers represented in this structure plan right now and say 'enough is enough'.
We have done our fair share. No more over-development, no more 'strategic housing plans' made for us by John Prescott and no more exporting other cities social problems to Torbay.
This is our town. It's about time we took a stand and told these unelected 'we know best' officials what they can do with their urban dreamscape."