Sunday, 19 July 2015

Roses are red…

This book is different: it is a book about housing, but it does not advocate building many more homes. This book does not add more support to many of the usual solutions offered. It does not suggest that so-called affordable housing schemes are good, or that we necessarily need thousands of new ‘council homes’ to be built. It does suggest that the housing problem requires a more serious solution than merely building more homes. This conclusion has resulted partly from concerns about the near-future, not about the present. Solutions such as home-building, which look as if they might solve some of our present woes, may not be the panacea many imagine if we continue to allow a few to get richer and richer through exploitation of what the housing system has become. Building more may result in the wealthy owning even more houses, more families renting some of those homes, but more being empty at any one time and in greater future inequality, unless we address rising inequalities in how housing is shared out.
– Danny Dorling: All That is Solid: The Great Housing Disaster

This week's Herald – and its headline about the “number of homes [that] just keeps on rising” with each revision of Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s Core Strategy (about as strategic as this household’s weekly shopping list) – crystallized thoughts I have been having for some time; and is one of a continually-growing number of reasons why I now wonder if there is any point to Neighbourhood Plans (at least in their current form and lack of legal standing): especially when “The Government is very clear that it will not be possible to use [them] to stop development.” (They do not, therefore, as some appear to believe, “protect the village”.)

As long as we, as a community, as a district, as a country, continue to espouse the simplistic mantra that building more and more homes is the answer to life, the universe and everything, I cannot see any purpose in producing a “vision” for Tysoe that can then be crumpled and crushed in an instant by the Vogon triumvirate of government, property and finance. We may as well wield fly-swatters in the paths of oncoming bulldozers (or lie down in front of them wearing our dressing-gowns), as to mount a defence of the status quo (which is what I believe we are really trying to achieve – not many people are in a position to readily welcome change, in any form…) with a glossy, Panglossian compilation of complex protocols. Indeed, as I have written before: “I am concerned that this could just simply be yet another time- and money-consuming exercise: designed to keep us ‘plebs’ occupied, and therefore from being able to interfere in, or protest against, Tory diktats” – the latest in a long line of increasingly-bizarrely-named documents that, momentarily, repeatedly, give us the blurred illusions of localism, local power, local choice. When will we learn…?

And, from sage comments made (and quoted) previously on these pages, perhaps I am not the only one who thinks like this: “It doesn't even have to be the Neighbourhood Plan. It could simply be our plan. A plan for Tysoe.”

I think I have (finally) reached Frost’s “Two roads diverged”; and, like him, will take “the one less traveled by”. I have spent far too much time critiquing our attempts at pulling a plan together (but not “together” with most residents of the village…); and making suggestions – long have “I stood And looked down… as far as I could” – many having fallen on fallow ground; a few, perhaps (if appearances count for anything) permeating the ears of our still-wet-behind-the-ears Parish Council.

Accordingly, I suppose, like the great poet, I should be “telling this with a sigh” – but I feel I have said all that there is to be said; and, now, it seems, about something with as many sharp bits as a ball-bearing. So: my main emotion is actually relief. And, as a result, unless there is a massive change in both process and direction, I no longer see any further sense in giving my opinions on it; and will focus my meagre resources and “lucid words” on things of importance to me. I will also, therefore, of course, be voting against it.

However, if you feel differently, then may I suggest that tonight’s PC meeting is definitely worth attending?!

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.
– Oscar Wilde

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