Mrs. Thatcher was correctly accused of "selling off the family silver" by Harold Macmillan over privatisation. Our own local Councils, who are supposed to be guardians of community resources for future generations, are proposing the same by kowtowing to officer reports and Government orders of the Labour and Coalition Governments. The Liberal Democrats also reflect this southern bias and the Party officially (although not collectively) refuses to challenge the lobbying of vested self-interest groups.
It is a truism that politicians of all parties complain about BBC bias. I am a great fan of the BBC but sometimes they are biased, perhaps not intentionally or maybe like most journalists to concentrate on the controversial stories. The Radio 4 Today programme is biased in favour of house building and always reports the case more strongly in favour of building on the countryside, despite our towns and cities being full of empty properties. I think this is Southern bias – it reflects a genuine, if still in many places inaccurate, concern of South Eastern England and overcrowded holiday spots. I've heard it on Radio Merseyside too though – a morning presenter in the Summer glibly saying "we all know we need to build lots more houses". That is nonsense. The reason masses of houses are being built is because of Government targets (which the last Government was obsessed with, and this one has only reduced not scrapped) combined with a conspiracy by big business and Trades Unions, with some charities who want to deal with the symptoms of family breakdown, not the causes.
I'd previously submitted a complaint and two earlier comments to BBC Radio 4, which I sent in together on 25/07.2012.
Comment emailed to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme via website, 25 July 2012.
I am concerned that the Today programme appears biased apparently in support of building in the countryside to solve housing problems. Today demonstrates a Southern bias reflecting the unholy self-interested alliance between Trade Unions, the construction industry and housing (big) business, and certain homelessness charities who all present building as the solution to homelessness. Invariably by this they mean building on the countryside and attacking the Green Belt.
I heard discussions on this on 13 June (at about 8.15 am), and on 21 June (8.35 am).
There was discussion about the pros and cons of building on the green belt but there was very little critique or insight into whether more building was actually needed. The industry / trade union / charity assumption that building is the answer was taken for granted. Placating big business and non-Green trades unions will not solve social problems such as family breakdown that is a key cause of the demand. Allowing profiteering from destroying the countryside will not mean a housing market is any more efficient in dealing with empty properties. Completion of major schemes of building in cleared areas in the Northern cities is stalled because the public subsidy has run out and the market and Councils and housing associations with their business partners are not delivering at the pace needed. Those schemes should be completed providing plenty of new homes. The market will simply take the easy option if given the chance. I supported the housing market renewal schemes but also agreed with critics that they should have been scaled back when house prices had soared. It is not just house[s] though. Walk down Lawrence Road in Liverpool and you will see fabulous empty churches (probably listed) and pubs, with only a few that have found new uses. (Nearby is a fabulous empty synagogue on Greenbank Drive). The Welsh heritage body CADW recently highlighted a first class refurbishment of a church and I have seen these in Bristol and in Liverpool from earlier times. Why are these fabulous buildings not brought back into use to help revitalise communities rather than destroy the green belt.
My comments at the time of the sent by text were respectively:
"No need for new houses in Northern cities. Liverpool city centre stuffed full of empty luxury flats & more & more student flats being built. Derelict properties in inner city. Plenty of properties that COULD be lived in." (13/06/2012, 08.21) [By which I meant no need to build new houses in the Green belt to provide for demand in Northern cities, and plenty of empty properties that could be lived in by people from elsewhere. The same sites can be seen across all of the Northern towns and cities and I imagine in plenty of southern towns as well – empty 'luxury' apartments and student accommodation, plus student houses in areas where students have moved out from to the city centres.]
"The cities in the North are still stuffed full of empty private flats & houses – why build more" (21/06/2012, 08.43) [By which I meant to challenge the assumption that more building is needed but I agree that a range of housing is needed – as I have argued for more than ten years, and actively opposed the excessive numbers of flats rather than family homes since at least 2006.]