My Column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

“Speed up a bit there Ed!” It is fair to say there was a certain amount of heckling from one table of pensioners over my bingo calling on Saturday in Robin Hood. It was my annual Armed Forces Day coffee morning and I joined local residents and members of the armed forces community for coffee, cakes and a round of bingo.

It’s always a wonderful occasion in which people come together to show their appreciation for the work of our armed forces and our support for veterans and the families of those serving overseas.

Kalvinder and her husband arrived proudly carrying a photograph of their son who was spending Armed Forces Day serving in the Royal Air Force in the Falkland Islands. Veterans displayed their medals. And everyone chipped to the raffle to raise funds for the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

I hold an event for Armed Forces Day in the constituency each year. As well as tea, coffee and cakes – which this year were kindly sponsored by the local Morrisons – we also always have a raffle and this year raised £204 in funds for the Royal British Legion.

Congratulations to Peter Aldred on winning the star prize – a special limited edition Royal Air Force plate. And to the lady from Robin Hood who (eventually) won House of Commons chocolates in the bingo. And thank you everyone who was able to come along and show support.

*****

Housing is one of the most common issues in my constituency mailbag. People come to me for all kinds of reasons; they are having trouble finding a house, difficulties with unscrupulous landlords, repairs are needed to their council house, a sick child or relative means they need to make changes to their house or they want to raise planning queries and objections.

Residents also tell me that they want a proper balance in housing and planning policy. People want and need new homes – but want planners to be sympathetic to our local environment and understand the value we put on our greenbelt.

One pensioner couple wrote to me recently, “Housing for the elderly in Drighlington is almost impossible to obtain.” Another resident said, “while I am concerned about affordable housing, I do not want the area to become just another estate.”

And one local mum told me, “Why not build on eyesore sites like disused factories and develop these first instead of open spaces.”

Recently over two thirds of Drighlington residents told me that they are concerned about how difficult it is for young people and families to get on the housing ladder. Over half also thought it was important for new affordable housing to be built for local people. But a similar number were concerned about the amount of house building taking place and the impact this was having on the green belt.

And they’re right. Since the Government scrapped the old brownfield-first presumption for housing and planning, it’s become much more difficult for the local authority to prevent developments. Which has put real pressure on areas like ours with a precious green belt to protect.

I’m very clear that I want to see a return to the brownfield first presumption which meant that developments had to take place in vacant brownfield sites before the green belt could be considered. Most of the two thousand Drighlington residents I surveyed recently agreed. Just 5% thought the existing planning laws were working well.

As regular readers will recall, I’ve written to the Secretary of State on this issue a number of times. And I’ll certainly keep up the pressure. But as well as pressing the Government to get our planning policy reformed to include a presumption of brownfield-first development, I want to make sure local people can have their say.  Anyone who wants to get in touch should email ed@edballs.com or watch out for my latest e-survey.

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Posted July 2nd, 2014 by admin

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