council

Is the government housing scheme all it seems?

A new scheme offering 100,000 first time buyers in the UK new homes with a 20% discount has been announced by the Prime Minister as part of a drive to ‘help people onto the housing market’

Starter home initiative will be rolled out early next year

Starter home initiative will be rolled out early next year

 

Aspiring homeowners will be asked to register their interest in buying via the Starter Home Initiative from the start of next year, an initiative that has been developed to help what some have dubbed ‘Britain’s housing crisis’.

A large part of the project involves a change to the planning system, ‘freeing under used or unviable brownfield land from planning costs and levies in return for a below market value sale price on the homes built on the site’.

Under section 106 developers are obliged to pay money towards ensuring adequate infrastructure for the community. No S106 liabilities means no responsibility to ensure this happens, the land could be bought and developed without suitable access to transport, education, open spaces and libraries that the payments are intended to fund.

David Cameron rolled out the same rhetoric we have come to expect, saying: “Hardworking young people want to plan for the future and enjoy the security of being able to own their own home’, appearing to overlook the 85,000 homeless people on social housing waiting lists in Manchester alone. There may be a need for ‘affordable starter homes’ but the need for affordable social housing is far more pressing.

The reality is that this scheme is not going to increase housing availability, nor improve affordability. Similar schemes in the past have done little more than transfer lots of taxpayer cash into developers’ pockets without really increasing output or decreasing the costs charged for housing. There is no long-term benefit or gain for society from this scheme, unlike real investment in social housing that sees new homes built, rented at rates people can afford and let to families on a perpetual basis.

Is this really nothing more than Cameron’s idea of trying to ‘buy’ election votes?

Cameron offers the same old rhetoric….

When Thatcher sold off council houses in her own bid to do the same it led to the largest shortage of social housing ever, with thousands of homeless paying the price.

The government’s denial of the role of social housing in ensuring our economic needs to be met is both short sighted and self-defeating. The current housing policies are not sustainable, as was shown by the role it played in the economic crash five years ago.

It could be an attempt by the government to delay the UK housing market from collapse. The UK is the highest indebted EU country with an ageing, pension-less population and the younger generation strapped up with increasing student debt, estimated at £44,000 each from 2015. This latest “Starter Home Scheme’ is very similar to other shared ownership schemes – we’ve had ‘buy to rent’, ‘help to buy’, ‘rent to buy’ and now ‘buy for votes’ – short term and perhaps locally they seem like a good idea but from a long term macro economic perspective the raw perspective the raw price goes up to compensate.

We do need an increase in housing stock but I’m not sure this scheme will give us that. If it were really about lowering prices then surely an idea would be to bring down all housing costs by 20%. We don’t need discounted houses, or ‘affordable builds’ – just simply more homes.

We need more affordable housing for all

We need more affordable housing for all

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CCTV in Sale West……The Facts

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After months of speculation surrounding the cctv on Sale West I am pleased to say that we finally have some facts and figures that will hopefully reassure the residents that they are indeed being “looked after” by fully operational cameras and dedicated council staff.

I arrived at Stretford police station this morning just before 10.30am to meet with Colin Wright and be allowed unprecedented access to the cctv office, on the understanding that I would pass on what I learnt to the residents…:)

The office is a hub of activity within Stretford police station on Talbot Road.The station itself is rather grand and deceptively spacious once inside…(think Tardis).

Equipped with loads of technology including multiple screens, projected images, police radio and much more Colin and his colleague were more than happy to show me ALL of the cameras on Sale West and beyond working and recording in real time and with crystal clear images.

Here are some facts:

1.  The cctv does not have video analytic capacity. This means there is no facial recognition or cross referencing of faces from camera to camera.

2.  There is no audio capacity enabled on the cameras…..they can’t talk to you and they can’t hear you either:)

3.  The images captured by the cctv are recorded and are kept for 28 days. During this time the recordings can be requested by the police in order to detect and prevent crime. I can bear witness to this as two local officers called in to collect some footage whilst I was there today.

4.  All of the cameras can pan, tilt and zoom in. I was shown many of the cameras in action and can clarify that Magnolia, Chepstow (Community Garden) and the Community centre area are all covered, as is the rest of the estate.

5.  The cameras can see as well at night as they can during the day…I saw footage of Thirsk at night and can clarify that is was pretty clear…;)

6.  The cctv is connected by both wire and wifi….wired at source and sending signal back to the station.

7.  Whilst Colin is not originally from Sale it is apparent that he is very familiar with the area and is on the ball for matching cameras to locations etc. Other staff are local and also have a vested interest in the safety of everyone on Sale West.:)

8.  The cctv is manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week, even at Christmas……these guys have that many cameras they are sure to have caught Santa doing the rounds to all our well behaved children many a time…..:)

9.  Irwell Valley originally helped with the installation cost of the cctv on Sale West, with the balance funded by the council. Irwell Valley staff do not monitor the cameras and have no access to them, it is all viewed in house by the council staff that have full control over the cameras, in the police station.

10. Colin and his colleagues are responsible for over 100 cameras around Trafford and so this means that they are not always focused on Sale West. However, if they are alerted to something either by the police, public or simply spotting something on screen they can react quickly.

11.  Whilst the off road biking has been picked up by the cameras it is often a fleeting glimpse as they head towards the more covert areas not covered, alleys, some car parks etc.

However…Colin did show me a log of mini moto related incidents that has been complied from sightings, public calls and police reports. It is a priority and will continue to be so, they just can’t see all the cameras all the time….

If you have any concerns about specific problems such as fly tipping, persistent dog fouling, off road bikers ripping up the pavements etc you can always report it, anonymously.

The cctv office can be contacted on 0161 912 1111

Calls are in confidence and will be acted upon.

General information regarding cctv in Trafford can be found on the council website.

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Thanks to Colin for allowing me access to the previously unseen world of cctv, and for answering my many questions, some more sensible than others:)

Picture credits:

CCTV cartoon from Google via Creative Commons

Camera photo with kind permission of lydia_shiningbrightly via Creative Commons

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