Two thirds of rural England will be at the mercy of developers because of proposals to relax the planning laws, former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion has warned.
Sir Andrew was speaking as he was formally unveiled as the next president of the Campaign of Protect Rural England.
In his first public comments since accepting the role, the former poet laureate made clear his concerns about Government reforms to planning rules.
Ministers want to replace over 1,200 pages of planning guidance with a new 52 page document called the National Planning Policy Framework, which campaigners say will make it easier to build on parts of rural England.
The CPRE is worried that the draft NPPF includes a new “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, and puts communities at risk of large scale development. The Daily Telegraph is also urging ministers to rethink the reforms.
Earlier this month, the CPRE warned that an area in England which equates to an area almost three-and-a-half times the size of Wales was at risk from the reforms.
IN Easington, in County Durham, there were five or fewer, and the number was only slightly higher in Middlesbrough (7), South Sunderland (9) and Redcar (11).Now those lowly figures are at the centre of the latest Coalition bust-up between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, which broke out into the open this week.
The statistics refer to the number of young people, from each parliamentary constituency, who applied to study at the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge last year.
A stark North-South divide was revealed, with the seat of Easington bringing up the rear. Applications were so low that officials refused to reveal the actual number, recording it as “five or fewer”. At the other end of the scale, several hundred applications came from leafy parts of the South such as Oxford West and Abingdon (232), Richmond Park (230) and Cambridge (208).
This divide was predictable, but that made it no less shocking. Remember, the top jobs in law, politics, business, medicine, academia and the media are grabbed by Oxbridge graduates.
Emma Harrison, the head of a welfare-to-work firm which is being investigated over fraud allegations, has resigned from her post as David Cameron’s ‘Families Champion’.
Ms Harrison, the boss of the welfare-to-work-company A4e, said she was standing aside from the voluntary role to avoid it becoming a distraction. “I do not want the current media environment to distract from the very important work with troubled families”, she said. “I remain passionate about helping troubled families and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute in an area where I have been active for many years.”
A spokesman for Number 10 said the Prime Minister respected her decision, and thanked her for her work.
The Prime Minister asked Ms Harrison to lead the Working Families Everywhere campaign back in 2010, to help 120,000 problem families into work, calling her “inspirational”, and citing her “proven track record of turning lives around”. But she’s been coming under intense pressure to step aside, as it emerged that her multi-million pound firm had become the subject of a series of fraud allegations.
Thames police have already arrested and bailed four members of staff, and last night that probe widened: according to the Daily Telegraph, officers are focussing on the ‘business practices’ of the company as a whole. The Department for Work and Pensions said it had launched nine investigations into alleged fraud in recent years, and A4e was forced to pay back public money five times.
David Cameron swanned around a pro-market event with Prince Charles today to defend profit-hungry businesses against “snobbery.”
The Prime Minister and Prince of Wales attended the Business in the Community charity annual conference to hit back at “the snobbery that says business has no inherent moral worth like the state does.
“Frankly I’m sick of this anti-business snobbery,” wealthy Mr Cameron snorted.
“In recent months we’ve heard some dangerous rhetoric creep into our national debate, that wealth creation is somehow anti-social, that people in business are out for themselves.
“We have got to fight this mood with all we’ve got.”
He called on “those of us who believe in markets, business and enterprise” to come together and “prove the sceptics wrong”.
Mr Cameron’s speech follows massive criticism of the government’s work programme to force people on benefits into a month’s unpaid work.
It has been branded “slave labour” as benefits could be stopped if a participant leaves before completing a placement.
And Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said: “Big business has been rightly pilloried of late for dodging taxes, paying excessive bonuses, rampant profiteering, and now exploiting the unemployed through workfare.
“Cameron’s speech is a reaction to the inevitable public distrust and growing anger with his government handing over our schools, welfare system and the NHS to big business.
“Activists should be proud that we have forced the government on the defensive – and keep up the pressure!”
Business expert Professor Roger Seifert described Mr Cameron’s words as strangely Victorian.
Mr Seifert said: “Clearly in a capitalist society the profit motive and profit making are seen by its supporters and apologists as the engine and the steam of all things.
“We know that it does not actually function in that way: businesses, in order to secure profits, exploit workers and consumers alike, do not pay their way in terms of tax and costs they inflict through pollution and ill-health.
“They also distort the use of resources away from socially useful and economically needed to the useless and the wasteful,” he added.