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Friday, July 04, 2008

Great ambitions

Intriguing letter in the Western Mail this morning from the President of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Iwan on the need for more affordable housing. Dafydd echoes the Essex report on housing in suggesting that the Labour-Plaid Cymru Government's target of 6,500 new affordable homes by 2011 should be the bare minimum.

However, he goes further than both Sue Essex and his own housing minister in proposing that these new homes should all be built by the public sector and be additional to any that can be provided by private builders through planning gain.

Such an assertion is in direct contrast to the public utterances of the Plaid Cymru Housing Minister. She has been unequivocal in saying that her target of 6,500 new homes will only be met if we include private sector housing in the total. She knows that there is not enough money in the budget to meet Dafydd Iwan's ambitions. She also knows that due to the credit crunch there are less houses being built and that as such she faces an uphill struggle to get anywhere near what Plaid Cymru are now calling a 'bare minimum'.

Currently, it is difficult to say exactly how many new affordable homes are being built by local councils and housing associations because the Welsh Government do not have accurate statistics. What we do know is that according to the Wales Audit Office, in the last year for which they have figures there were less than 1,000 built, though that statistic is challenged by the Minister.

At the same time the number of sales under the right to buy and demolitions far exceed the sum of all new affordable homes being built meaning that we are actually going backwards. A survey of local Councils undertaken by my office revealed that in the last five years less than 2,000 affordable homes were provided by the private sector through planning gain. What all this demonstrates is the danger of setting arbitrary targets when a measurable and precise action plan would be far more efficacious.

With three years left the Labour-Plaid Government is not only nowhere near its 6,500 target but looks like it will miss it by a mile. That will be a tragedy for those struggling to get onto the housing market. Like Dafydd Iwan these first time home-makers may have placed their faith in Plaid Cymru rhetoric on this issue. They are likely to be sorely disappointed.
There is no doubt that Dafydd Iwan has been an inspiration to Welsh patriotism for decades - in the past. However, like most of Plaid Cymru he and the rest have totally lost their way for several years now. As a Party President Mr Iwan was not only uninspiring, he was virtually non existent. Elfyn Llwyd MP has a credible safe pair of hands, but as for the entire rest of them they've lost the plot totally. They might as well disband. They are all betrayers of Owain Glyndwr; betrayers of Saunders Lewis and Gwynfor Evans, indeed betrayers of Cymru. There's only one word left - "Brad!".
It could be argued that Dafydd Iwan's impact on Welsh evolution requires an electron microscope to fathom and is in tune with the impact of a rain drop onto a large ocean on an imaginary planet in a galaxy someplace far far away from Wales.

With regard to building the Welsh economy, Plaid Cymru has been about as useful as a nest of wasps at a Scout convention.

In ten years from now, the Welsh economy (c/o WAG) will still be at the bottom of the UK leagues, and the patent filing rate of the University of Wales will be a curiosity rather than the power house it should be.
Using the Social Housing Grant over the next three years to provide affordable housing in the public sector (i.e. through local councils) is vital to overcome the house building slump.
Otherwise we will continue to get unaffordable homes for our communities. Is that what you want?
"Using the Social Housing Grant over the next three years to provide affordable housing in the public sector (i.e. through local councils) is vital to overcome the house building slump."

I agree. It is not me you have to convince but the Minister. The point of the piece is that Dafydd Iwan is arguing that all 6,500 homes come from Social Housing Grant but the Minister has not allocated enough money for this and appears to have a different policy to her party president.
Peter, Either they (i.e. the Plaid Cymru lot) are not reading your blog or they have no answers to my accusation of them as "Brad!".
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