Labour Party parliamentary candidate for The Cotswolds Mark Huband today demanded that Cotswold District Council urgently finalise and publish its long-delayed Local Plan and fully explain its strategy to meet the housing crisis which is forcing young people from the area.
In a highly-charged debate with three other General Election candidates, broadcast live on BBC Radio Gloucestershire (#cotsdecides), Mark warned that unless urgent steps are taken to meet the current Cotswolds housing target of 8,400 new homes and for a substantial number of these to be priced with young people in mind, the area will lose its young population.
Turning to the threat to pensioners posed by the Conservative Party’s dumping of the ‘triple lock’ and the ending of the winter fuel allowance, Mark condemned the Tory attack on the old, telling the BBC: “We should treasure our pensioners – they have served their country for years, and should be looked after in their old age. Clearly what has happened is that Mrs May has made the crude calculation that she no longer needs them as voters. It seems that the Conservatives have the view that those in most need can be dumped whenever necessary.”
While national issues dominated the hour-long BBC debate, Mark made clear the Labour Party’s strong focus on the needs of Cotswolds residents, emphasising the danger that the housing needs of other towns may be neglected as Cirencester expands.
Mark strongly rejected assertions by Tory candidate Geoffrey Clifton-Brown that Theresa May’s approach to Brexit negotiations would benefit The Cotswolds – which voted by a substantial margin to remain in the EU – and the UK more widely. Mark told Clifton-Brown: “Theresa May’s utterly reckless approach to Brexit runs completely counter to our national interest. Her incompetent approach – accusing the European Commission of interfering in the UK election – is hugely damaging. Her readiness to accept ‘no deal’ is proof that she is wholly unsuited to the task. The European countries are our allies and friends – and she treats them as if this is a war and they are our enemies, when in fact these are countries with which we have shared thousands of years of history.”
Asked for his view of Theresa May’s call for a free vote in Parliament on the future of the hunting ban, Mark highlighted the bizaare timing of May’s sudden interest in the matter, emphasising that it seemed designed to divert attention from more pressing issues. Mark was clear, however, that the ban on hunting with dogs should remain, and that more efficient and humane ways should be found to deal with the damage caused by foxes.