Daily Archives: December 14, 2012

DCLG ‘Polcy Advisor Andy Gale ‘frogmarched out’ of Eland House for revealing truth about Housing Policy – But only to Newham

Nearly Legal Housing Law

 

then there is the curious case of the advisor who wasn’t (or was he?). Andy Gale ‘CLG Policy Advisor’ was the author of a briefing paper to Council officers that appeared to advocate unlawful gatekeeping, reducing the homeless preference in part 6 to effectively nil, and acknowledged out of borough offers were going to happen (not the official CLG line or guidance). We revealed the briefing document here. The Guardian picked up on the detail of the briefing paper here, and then all hell broke loose.

The CLG aggressively denied to the Guardian that Andy Gale had anything to do with them (though I noted at the time the strange precision of the wording used “Andy Gale is not employed by the department and [...] it has no contractual arrangements with him”). Andy Gale vanished from a January 2013 conference where he was billed as CLG policy advisor. An erratum slip was issued at a November conference to say Andy Gale was not a CLG policy advisor.

Meanwhile, I was hearing odd tales, including one from several different directions that Andy Gale had been ‘frogmarched’ out of CLG HQ one afternoon about a week after the Guardian article. There were also whispers about him working at LB Newham as ‘a CLG advisor’. Bits and pieces were coming together to make it clear that the CLG’s denial was not necessarily as clear cut as it seemed.

Now the Guardian has gone public with the whole story, straight out of the Thick of It. Do read the full article. It might even make you feel rather sorry for Mr Gale. But some highlights are the CLG suggesting that Andy Gale had been effectively making up his ‘policy advisor’ title since 2008:

He [Gale] has advised the Government in the past, but he is not employed or seconded by DCLG, and it’s not true that this advice reflects our views. This alleged advice was not paid for, or commissioned by, or given to DCLG.

and

He has been told he should not present himself as a government advisor, and he accepted that.

Meanwhile Andy Gale was using a CLG email address…

As the Guardian Picks up

Gale, it turned out, was indeed not employed directly by DCLG. But unbelievably, the emails revealed the department was directly paying Newham to “host” Gale, precisely to advise local authorities on how to tackle homelessness

On 3 February 2012 an unnamed DCLG civil servant (the name is redacted) wrote to Newham:

 

‘I believe Andy has spoken to you about Newham hosting Andy Gale to continue to provide support to local authorities to tackle homelessness. I would be most grateful if Newham are able to help in this respect.
The objective is for Andy to continue to provide support for two day a week to local authorities. DCLG would provide additional grant funding to Newham this financial year of £72,000.’

Survey of Housebuilders show half think #NPPF made no difference

Of course research from NLP and other s shows it is making a difference in terms of residential approvals and residential appeal rates, but unblocking big new allocations for housing on sites that have been dragging on for years, no evidence at all on that front.  Indeed as we predicted the extreme language and tone of the NPPF, even in its softened final form, could lead to the hardening of the anti-development arteries of many LPAs, as it has proved.

Building

Respondents to survey conducted by Building say government failing residential sector

Government reforms of the planning system have failed to deliver an improved environment for housebuilders and residential developers, according to research conducted by Building.

A survey of more than 230 housebuilders, conducted for Building’s 2013 Housing and Planning White Paper, found that almost half of housebuilders – 49% – think achieving planning permission has become more difficult in the last two years, compared with just 10% that believe it has got easier, and over a third that said it was unchanged.

In addition, just a fraction of the housebuilders surveyed – 6% – said local authorities have become more open to development since the publication of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which placed a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” at the heart of the planning system.

More than twice that number, 15%, say councils are now less open to development, with a majority of 56% saying it has made no difference.

The findings come despite the fact chancellor George Osborne said in 2011 that the government’s planning reforms were “key to our economic recovery”.

The findings of the internet-based poll of housebuilders, conducted in November in conjunction with the National House Building Council, were also backed by a qualitative survey of 16 planning authority heads undertaken for the white paper. The majority said the publication of the NPPF hadn’t changed their attitude to development and that a financial incentive designed to make them more positive to housebuilding – the New Homes Bonus – had no impact on their decision-making.

In addition, the majority of housebuilders that expressed a preference said that councils were being inflexible on re-negotiating section 106 agreements that cause problems with site viability, despite repeated attempts by the government to encourage councils to strike deals that allow schemes to go ahead.

The government has attempted to boost housing output through publication of a housing strategy in November 2011, and the unveiling of further steps to reform planning and underwrite development, in September this year.

Nevertheless, housing starts in England in the first nine months of 2012 are running 15% below the first nine months of 2011.

John Stewart, director of economic affairs at the Home Builders Federation, said: “The survey emphasises the challenge developers face to take sites forward and the constraints on supply.

“While, in part, this could be put down to the new system bedding in, what is imperative is that central and local government ensure the system is ready to respond with more permissioned land when the economy improves.”

A spokesperson for the communities department said the planning reforms would create a “simpler and more effective planning system that enables more good quality sustainable development to get underway without delay.

He said: “The new Growth and Infrastructure Bill, currently going through Parliament, will help the country compete on the global stage by reducing confusing and overlapping red tape that delays development and discourages business investment, new infrastructure and job creation.”

The news came as the RICS released forecasts for the housing market for 2013. It said house prices will increase by 2% next year, the cost of renting a home will go up 4% and the number of transactions will rise just over 3% from 930,000 this year to 960,000.

Goldbug Caption Competition

‘Inspecting One’s Tungston’

‘Archaic Relic Inspects her Gold’

‘Ron Paul Asked a Favour of …One, Two Three…’

‘When are you going to replace them with bitcoins…?

‘They arn’t money are they, ones face is not printed on them?

‘Why are all the guards called Tyler Durden?’

‘Which country did we nick this rack from?

‘Is the yellow paint supposed to flake orf?’

‘where is the hole the Thunderbird’s Mole made?

‘Hurry up Phillip i’m late for the Max and Stacy show’

Phillip’ So this ultrasound probe thingy can tell if they are real gold through and the Goldbugs are talking bollocks, well done and carry on’

Can you do better?

Boles Resurrects the Local Plan Database

Boles on Wednesday said he was monitoring weekly the progress on the late runners without an up to date adopted plan.  How given the government announced with a flourish last year that it was abolishing its own local plans database, forcing many such as me to create our own.  Of course the database has been resurrected as it was inevitable and unlike the council tax database one presumes the CD was never given to big Eric.  Its abolition was a clear example of the neo-liberal Redwood doctrine, don’t keep statistics, don’t keep databases, because without data you starve the public sector beast and the private sector can operate unregulated.  A doctrine that fails of course when by definition the activity is a public sector one.

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