A poor blueprint

There appears to be a tendency in some political circles to view the countryside as one vast potential building site, rather than as the precious and diminishing resource that it really is. We need to stop the pursuit of endless “growth” and accept that a rapidly increasing population in a small overcrowded island will lead to the destruction of our countryside if it continues at the present rate.

Locally, we are fortunate to have a group of independent councillors who act with integrity and are prepared to represent the interests of the electorate. The super enquiry on the future of Feniton is a good example. To be fair the local MP, Neil Parish, turned up for the march and to address the enquiry. Spare a thought for the flooded residents of Feniton trying to keep raw sewage out of their homes.

Mr Zahawi, the MP for Stratford-upon -Avon, has called for significant changes to be made to the National Planning Policy Framework to stop what he described as intense attacks on our countryside by rapacious landowners and developers. Mr Zahawi has stated that the damage this is doing to our flagship policy of localism is immense and, if it continues, the physical harm it is doing to our countryside will become the defining legacy of this Government.

Mr Zahawi, who joined the Downing Street policy board last year, has been told to repudiate what he has said or stand down! This is the type of childish petty bully-boy tactics that pervades the main political parties today. Mr Zahawi is not a minister. He is not a whip. His post is unpaid and the unit is not part of the Government. His views are shared by large numbers of normal people. Instead of uttering threats the Government should listen to such MPs and take careful note of what they say.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the law, those who pass laws, and those who administer laws and give judgment are all servants of the people and not their masters. If the law of the land is allowed to be manipulated by those clever or crafty enough, and with money enough, it is (irrespective of the outcome for them) the reputation of the law which suffers and with it respect for the law. Respect for the law is already at an all time low and if it goes much lower, law and order itself will increasingly be at risk.

There are people who constantly tell us that all that is needed is lots of investment in more houses, hospitals, schools, transport, more taxation and all will be well.

All will not be well. The outcome will be reduced living standards and a very reduced quality of life in England – unless somebody with a magic wand solves our energy, water, living space and food deficits. I await the next elections with interest. Wake up Devon (and the rest).

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Malcolm Steward


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