February 21, 2012


Land around Melling, Aintree, Lydiate, Maghull, Hightown and Formby is affected by proposals to reform Britain's planning system.

The government is changing the planning rules to let developers build more easily and that could mean the Green Belt. The government says the reason for the change is to help with economic growth but according to a report commissioned by conservation charities, there is little evidence that the changes will help with jobs or the economy. Worse still, the changes could undermine public well-being.

Ministers insist that changes to current planning regulations will make it easier and faster for businesses to build new houses and develop commercial premises. They say they have been forced to act because the cost of getting planning approval in the UK can be up to 10 times more than elsewhere in Europe and is now a significant concern to overseas investors.

But a report commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and the RSPB claims there is no evidence that planning has large effects on productivity or employment and that the draft National Planning Policy Framework is unlikely to have much effect on growth.

The report, prepared by Vivid Economics, also found that, although there have been a few studies of the costs of the planning system, the resulting claims have been overstated – and very little has been done to measure the benefits that good planning delivers.

"Effective planning should not be seen as a choice between growth or the environment," said Neil Sinden, director of policy for CPRE. "As this report argues, the aim of planning should be to secure long-term well-being not let developers run riot on the Green Belt.

Last  year Tory Chancellor, George Osborne tried to claim Britain was a “safe haven”, even as his economic errors were choking recovery.

Now, after months of rising unemployment and stagnating growth, even the credit agencies are starting to ring the alarm about the British economy.

Families, pensioners, young people and businesses already know things are tough – well before the international financial market watchers put Britain on “negative outlook”.

Thousands of jobs are being lost each month, a record number of young people are out of work and our economy has gone into reverse.

The Tory-Lib Dem government is giving banks a tax cut this year but hitting families hard with tax rises and cuts to tax credits.

Yet Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne said all the pain was needed to cut the deficit.

But we now know their vow to balance the books by 2015 won’t be met. Osborne is set to borrow £158billion more than planned – the price of his failed economic plan and a growing dole queue.

The last thing Ministers clung to was the views of these credit rating agencies – which the Chancellor repeatedly boasted had given a “vote of confidence” in his policies.

Keeping their approval seemed to be the most important thing, even though these agencies got it so wrong before – giving a top rating to the American bank Lehman Brothers just before it went bust.

Now they have fired a warning shot at George Osborne – blaming the weaker economic growth we have seen on this government’s watch.

After the global crash, every nation has to take tough decisions on tax, spending and pay to reduce the deficit.

But, as Labour always warned, trying to go too far and too fast would backfire.

We said it would choke recovery, put more people on the dole claiming benefit and so make it harder to get the deficit down.

That’s exactly what has happened and even these rating agencies are starting to realise this.

But Cameron and Osborne won’t admit failure. We can see the heavy price we are paying for their complacency, with the big rise in the number of people who are still out of work.

Labour won’t just stand by.

We would put a tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people.  We’d cut VAT to put money back in people’s pockets and get our economy moving again.

And we’d give tax breaks to small firms taking on extra workers.

Our five-point plan for jobs and growth is a fairer and better way to get the deficit down. It’s time this out of touch Tory-led government and their Lib Dem friends realised their policies aren’t working. 

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