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Mixed messages on Labour housing policy

September 27, 2011

As I said yesterday, it’s been pretty tough trying to report on a party with no policies, but what does appear clear from the party conference is that this new Labour party (not New Labour) seems to be putting housing more to the fore of its ‘vision for Britain’, whatever that is.

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Labour: the party without policies

September 26, 2011

It’s a tricky task covering this year’s Labour Party Conference, mainly because the party doesn’t have any policies…

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Councillors believe they will be able to state voting intentions in advance

September 23, 2011

Imagine a juror giving an interview before the first day of a trial, in which they pledge to give a guilty verdict. “I’ve listened to the anger in this community about this crime,” the juror might say. “Whatever the defendant says, he’s going down”.
It would, of course, somewhat undermine your faith in the trial-by-jury system, which relies on jurors going into court with an open mind.

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Everyone loves a planner

September 22, 2011

Amidst the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) doom and gloom I bring you good news – everyone loves planners.

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The view from the floor: Lib Dem activists have their say on planning reforms

September 21, 2011

Nick Clegg: picture by Liberal Democrats

As the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham draws to a close, it appears that Lib Dem party bosses have managed to keep a lid on the row over the government’s planning reform. Business secretary Vince Cable is reported to have told a fringe meeting last night that “planning reform is not taking off, except for the Daily Telegraph, as a political issue”, and if you were to base your assessment of his statement solely on events at this conference, you’d be hard pressed to argue with him. Nevertheless, this is not to say that all Lib Dem party activists are happy with the direction of the government’s planning reforms. I got the sense from several of the packed fringe meetings on planning that I had attended that quite a few party members were concerned over the reforms, so I thought I’d sit in on a debate in the main hall to get a sense of what activists made of the reforms. Read more…

The five-point Liberal Democrat plan for dealing with the NPPF fallout

September 20, 2011

Picture by Liberal Democrats

For the Liberal Democrats – a political party that prides itself on its localist credentials – the ongoing media furore over the draft National Planning Policy Framework will have left party strategists with a headache, particularly given that the conference so far has been dominated by attempts to reassure party activists that being in government with the Tories is worthwhile. Read more…

Planning under attack at Lib Dem conference

September 19, 2011

Alexander: planning system a 'major vested interest' (picture by bobaliciouslondon. Flickr)

Party conference season has begun and I’m in Birmingham to cover the Liberal Democrat party conference. I’ve barely been here for 24 hours, but have already heard several speakers – including senior politicians, developers and think-tank chiefs – lash out the planning system. Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, set the tone by using part of his speech on Sunday to hit out at the planning system, which he said is a “major vested interest” standing in the way of economic growth. “Bureaucracy, rules and red tape that mean it takes years to get things done,” Alexander told the conference. “A planning system that can take more than a decade to allow even modest developments to go forward,” he added. Read more…