Author Archives: Alex Marsh

Opinion: Housing – winding the clock back

Friday 9th November 2012 could well come to be seen as a landmark date in the history of English housing policy. A key change introduced by the Localism Act 2011 came into effect. The Liberal Democrats are part of the Government presiding over the change. Is it a change we can be proud of?

Local authorities can now discharge their statutory homelessness duty by allocating households a tenancy in the private rented sector rather than in social housing. This has been an option for years. But until now to

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The Localism Act – Issues and Questions

Last Wednesday the LGiU and Bristol City Council collaborated to host a day conference on the Localism Act. Yesterday I introduced some of the main themes from the Government’s perspective, as set out by Andrew Stunell. As the conference progressed many issues and questions emerged. Today I identify those that particularly struck me. A broad message is that there remain significant challenges in effectively communicating to local communities the nature and extent of change.

The discussion of neighbourhood planning and neighbourhood forums highlighted quite how much of the Government’s Localism agenda relies on details yet to emerge. The imminent National …

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The Localism Act – over to you

Last Wednesday the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) collaborated with Bristol City Council to run a major one-day conference on the Localism Act, which is now rapidly moving towards implementation. The audience comprised primarily local authority elected members and senior officers. The conference was kicked off by Barbara Janke, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Bristol City Council. The day’s discussions were bookended by wide ranging presentations from Westminster Liberal Democrat politicians: Lord Shipley in the morning and Andrew Stunell, …

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Opinion: Oh, what is the point?

Having followed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and then watched Danny Alexander interviewed on Newsnight on Tuesday I have to say my initial reaction was “oh, what is the point?”. That was a reaction to both substance and process.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, as the IFS analysis demonstrates, hits the poorest hardest and those on middle and higher incomes less hard. Most would call that regressive. I’m sure some bright spark can come up with an argument that if you look at the data from a different direction – on the basis of expenditure not income, for example – then it isn’t …

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Opinion: Will fixing the planning system improve the housing supply?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Britain has a housing problem. There are problems of shortage and, consequently, access and affordability.

There are three principal mechanisms for dealing with significant housing shortage and indirectly reducing the affordability problems that go with it: (1) You can reduce the number of households needing to be housed; (2) You can increase the number of properties available; and (3) You can improve the utilization of the existing stock of properties.

You can try to do something on all three fronts. A couple of weeks ago LibDemVoice co-editor Mark Pack identified six …

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Opinion: Criminalising squatting

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offender Bill has returned to the House of Commons this week. The problems with the Government’s proposed Legal Aid reforms have been apparent for a while. Some people will see their access to justice seriously curtailed, while the courts are likely to silt up with inexpert litigants-in-person. The chances of any money being saved – when considered in the round – are limited. In this context it is good to see reports that Liberal Democrat MPs Tom Brake and Mike Crockart are tabling amendments to seek to address some of the most …

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Opinion: Boosting housing supply

The Conservatives’ proposal to resuscitate the Right to Buy through increasing discounts appears to be an attempt to bask in some of Mrs Thatcher’s reflected glory. Unlike the 1980s version, though, Mr Cameron and Mr Shapps are emphasizing that each property sold will be matched with a newly built property at “affordable” rent. This is an attempt to head off criticisms that the Right to Buy reduces the supply of “social” housing. So, it would appear, this initiative could lead to a net increase in the housing stock.

Of course, things are never as they first appear. It is not yet …

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  • User AvatarStevan Rose 26th Aug - 1:33am
    "though I wasn’t a member during the (alleged) destruction of the party." Me neither, left the Liberals in the early 80s, rejoined Lib Dems in...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Aug - 1:05am
    Barry does say some things above in response to Matthew, that must be said , if the left of our party are ever going to...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Aug - 12:05am
    Caron, thank you , yes , of course what you say makes sense on the Tories UK wide and in the rest of the countries...
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 25th Aug - 11:56pm
    Barry Snelson 25th Aug '16 - 11:16pm "As to the view that market forces are the work of Satan, well that’s a pity as the...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 25th Aug - 11:54pm
    Lorenzo, Ruth Davidson did well up here by decoupling herself almost completely from the Conservatives down south. I don't think she'll get away with that...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 25th Aug - 11:52pm
    @Dave Orbison "So please point me to the articles in Guardian, Indy, Telegraph or others where the official LibDem response has been made and where...