Tag Archives: land

Rough sleeping up 134 per cent while UK’s richest increase wealth by 183 per cent and developers hog land for 130,000 homes


Compassionate Conservatism? It’s more like Conscious Cruelty!

Bearing in mind the fact that the UK is the sixth-richest country in the world, the following is a scandal in itself:

Want to argue with the statistics? The evidence is all around.

The moral of the story:

And that is the fact of the matter. Homelessness has more than doubled since 2010 because of the policies of the Conservative and Conservative-led government.

The Tories have squeezed wages and benefits to the point where people are unable to hold onto their homes; they go into debt and then they go out on the street.

But what else has been happening while all this has been going on?

See for yourself:

“The combined wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK has increased by 183 per cent over the past 10 years.

“As austerity continues to bite low-income households shocking figures show the wealthiest in society now rake in almost three times what they did in 2009.

“Ten years ago the wealthiest 1,000 people in Britain had a combined wealth of £256 billion, but the same cohort now sit on some £724 billion.

“The figures show that the pace of change has been ramped up notably over the past five years, which has seen wealth grow by £274 billion, and £66 billion in the past year alone.”

So impoverishing the masses is big business for the privileged few!

Ah, but all but the most destitute have managed to find a house to live in before now. What’s the difference today? Is it the fact that fewer homes are available for rent and there is a shortage of homes-to-buy, meaning the value of mortgages has gone through the roof, and help-to-buy is a club for people who are already wealthy?

Could be!

And if you’re concerned about the shortage of new houses, you’ll be furious about this:

“Developers are sitting on land for more than 130,000 homes in England that have never been built – the worst gap on record, according to new analysis.

“The analysis of housing ministry (MCHLG) figures showed that in 2016-17, planning permission for 313,700 new homes was given, but only 183,570 homes built, meaning a notional annual gap of more than 130,000 homes, the biggest divergence since records began in 2006.

“The percentage of homes built versus permission granted was just 58%, a rate that has been roughly steady since 2012.

“Landowners sell at a price that factors in a significant increase in value after obtaining planning consent, meaning a hectare of agricultural land worth £20,000 can sell for closer to £2m if it is zoned for housing. [But] developers regularly deny using land to speculate, arguing more profit can usually be made from building.”

It’s hard to believe that when developers are sitting on land and only building houses when they can be sure of a certain price. Land has always been a certain way to make money – and look how rich the richest people in the UK have become, while property prices go through the roof…

… And the number of people thrown onto the streets increases exponentially.

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Netanyahu’s naked empire-building: He demands US recognise Israeli ownership of Golan Heights

Land thief: Benjamin Netanyahu.

Let’s get this straight: The Golan Heights are owned by Syria. Israel has occupied them illegally since 1967.

Benjamin Netanyahu is simply seeking legitimisation of his country’s land-grab.

It is worth noting that Priti Patel resigned in disgrace after meeting Israeli politicians and then calling for the Department for International Development to give international aid money to field hospitals run by the Israeli army in the Golan Heights.

This would have been a tacit granting of legitimacy to the Israeli claim from the UK government.

Fortunately, it seems nobody is keen to accept Mr Netanyahu’s claim.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today said that he would not back down on his demand that the US recognise Israel’s right to the occupied Golan Heights.

“I will not give up our expectation that the United States recognise Israeli sovereignty over Golan,” he said in a statement.

Netanyahu’s remarks come one day after US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reutersthat the US administration was “not considering the possibility” of recognising Israel’s right to the Syrian area.

Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when it also occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The UN continues to describe the Israel-held Golan Heights as “occupied” territory.

Source: Netanyahu urges US to recognise Israel’s right to Golan – Middle East Monitor

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Netanyahu’s Israel is victimising Jews who don’t support his apartheid regime

Victimised: Simone Zimmerman.

In the words of Jewdas: “The irony of Israel recently crowning itself as the ‘Jewish Nation-State’ at the same time as it is turning away increasing numbers of Jews due to their political views should not be lost on anyone.”

American Jews have good reason to be afraid. Recent interrogations, harassment, and deportation of left-wing Jewish American activists over their political beliefs and activities have ushered in a new political moment in the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jewish communities.

No longer is Jewish identity enough to protect American activists from the reach of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. Jewish privilege is no longer enough to guarantee entry into the Jewish state should one’s ideology or political views contradict those of the Israeli government.

When Simone Zimmerman and Abby Kirschbaum were detained and interrogated on their way back from a weekend in Sinai, the Shin Bet and border authority interrogators were almost exclusively interested in why the two wanted to work with Palestinians. They wanted to know about their politics.

A week earlier, when Israeli-American author Moriel Zecher-Rothman was held by the Shin Bet at the airport, an agent warned him against going down a “slippery slope” of anti-occupation activism and demanded he provide intelligence on fellow left-wing activists.

Source: In Israel, American Jews can kiss their privilege goodbye | +972 Magazine

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Tories prepare to squander more billions by selling off “surplus” NHS land

On the day the government admitted it bungled a property deal involving Ministry of Defence homes, ministers have announced a plan to sell off NHS land.

Do they plan to lose billions of pounds on that, as well?

It should be clear to everybody by now that the Conservative Party does not have the wherewithal to conduct transactions involving public property in anything like a responsible manner.

With the NHS plan in the Naylor Report, we know that the service is starved of resources and it is madness to take even more away from it.

Worse still is the fact that the Tories aren’t interested in getting a good price for the land. They’ll sell it to some friends of theirs at a preferential rate and pass any losses on to the taxpayer, as they usually do.

It’s the same old Tory story – privatise the profits and nationalise the debts.

The Tories have officially backed a controversial report which critics fear could lead to the biggest sell-off of NHS property in history.

The Naylor Report recommended selling around £2 billion of “surplus land” owned by the health service to build 26,000 homes.

It attracted grave concern from campaigners when Theresa May suggested she would back it last summer. And today, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy gave the report the official government seal of approval.

The announcement came just hours after it was revealed bungling Ministry of Defence chiefs have lost billions of pounds in a disastrous property deal by selling off thousands of homes – then renting them back from the buyer.

Source: The Tories have backed a report recommending a huge sell-off of NHS property – Mirror Online


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Ask a serious question of Amber Rudd…

Amber Rudd: This resident of Cloud Cuckoo Land was never in danger of losing her Cabinet seat in the reshuffle. What does that say about Theresa May?

… Get a bizarre answer.

Chris Williamson, Labour’s shadow minister for fire and emergency services, should know his numbers when it comes to those services’ budgets.

When he says these organisations have reserves of £143 million, to set against a budget of £2.3 billion, This Writer is inclined to accept his figures.

But look what happened when he tackled Home Secretary (yes, even after the reshuffle) Amber Rudd about the pitiful inadequacy of this amount of reserve cash.

Was Ms Rudd making up these figures as she went along? If the reserves were 40 per cent of annual revenue – meaning, one supposes, the £2.3 billion annual budget – then they would stand at £920 million, wouldn’t they? Or what was she talking about? Without hard figures to support her statement, it was meaningless.

And as for taking “a little more scrutiny to this matter, rather than treating it like some Venezuelan dictatorship” – that’s exactly what Mr Williamson was trying to do!

So, yes, it was certainly generous of Ms Rudd to suggest of herself that she isn’t living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. From this performance, it seems she is planning to take up permanent residence there.


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NHS ‘fire sale’ is short-term thinking at its worst

Dozens of NHS sites still being used for medical care are up for sale [Image: Getty].

The minority Conservative government has doubled the amount of NHS property it wants to sell, triggering concerns over the service’s financial viability under the Tories.

The plan is to sell off property – including sites that are still being used – in order to raise a quick £10 billion. The problem is that, once the money has been used, the property will be gone. It is short-term thinking that predicts a dire future for health care in the UK.

And why is the nature of some of the land being hidden behind claims that it is “sensitive”? How is it “sensitive”? Is it “sensitive” because it is necessary for the proper functioning of the service, and selling it off will harm healthcare?

Is that how it is “sensitive” – and we’ll only be allowed to know this after it has been sold and there’s nothing to be done?

This is a travesty.

The NHS needs investment. But that’s exactly the opposite of what Tory governments do.

Tories are asset-strippers.

They take from the state, and give to the rich.

That has always been their plan for the NHS.

Already waiting lists are longer than ever before. And, under the Tories, it can only get worse.

A secret “fire sale” of hospital land – including dozens of properties still being used for medical care – is planned to bail out the cash-strapped NHS, new documents show.

The Department of Health has quietly doubled the amount of land it intends to dispose of, triggering accusations of desperate measures to plug a big hole in NHS finances.

Details of more than half of the 1,300 hectares now up for sale have been kept under wraps because of “sensitivity” – raising suspicions that many other sites also have clinical uses.

The revelation comes after the Naylor review called for the NHS to adopt “a more commercial approach” to selling off assets – branding them a “source of untapped value” – and was embraced by Theresa May to help inject £10bn into the NHS.

Read more: Tory government quietly doubles number of NHS properties it is selling off


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Sink, Britain, Sink! – the cost of privatising water management

– This is a song by a local musician, here in Mid Wales, written during the last serious flooding. I make no apologies for opportunistically linking to it as it says a few choice words about the situation and the government.

“And the rains came down, and the floods came up” – The Wise Man and the Foolish Man (Southern Folk Song).

Some of you may have noticed we’ve had a few spots of wet weather recently. This is nothing new to our island nation.

The trouble is, having fallen on us all, the water hasn’t had the decency to clear off and drain away. Instead, it has built up and up and caused a huge amount of flood damage to land and houses that were not built in a safe place, as in the song lyric quoted above, but in flood plains.

This is a result of bad planning – by water and sewerage companies that have failed to implement successful drainage schemes or to divert floodwater from rivers in order to prevent overflow, and by planning authorities that have allowed housing to be built in the wrong place.

What were they thinking?

My guess is that the water companies were thinking about the money, and planning authorities wanted to ease overcrowding.

We live in a country where management of the water supply went into private hands several decades ago. When that happened, it became impossible to have any kind of integrated plan to deal with the supply of water, droughts, floods and storage. Water supply became a commodity to be bought and sold by rich people according to the golden rules of capitalism: Invest the minimum; charge the maximum.

So reservoirs have been sold off to foreign water companies, meaning we have no adequate response to droughts. None have been built, meaning we have no adequate response to floods. Concerns about river flooding have been neglected. There has not been the investment in extraction and storage of floodwater that repeated incidents over the last few years have demanded.

The government is reducing its budget for handling these issues. Not only that, but it is delaying implementation of a new policy on drainage.

This would be regulated by local authorities, who have responsibility for planning approvals. Some might say these authorities should have had a little more forethought before granting applications to build on flood plains, or for adaptations to existing properties that have prevented water from draining into the soil and sent it down drains instead, to overload the sewer system.

Some of these are matters of necessity: Planning officers may have gone to the limit of what is allowed, in order to allow housing developments that relieve the burden of overcrowding; in other matters, they may have been unable to apply any legal restrictions on applications.

In short, there is no joined-up thinking.

There will be no joined-up thinking in the future, either – unless the situation is changed radically.

Meanwhile, the cost racked up by the damage is huge – in ruined farmland, in ruined homes and possessions, and blighted lives. And what about the risk of disease that floodwater brings with it? The NHS in England is ill-equipped to deal with any outbreaks, being seriously weakened by the government-sponsored incursions of private, cheap-and-simple health firms.

Something has to give beneath the weight of all this floodwater. Change is vital – from commercial competition to co-operation and co-ordination.

Privatisation of water has failed. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Is anyone opposed?

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