Tories attack Labour’s failure to deliver affordable housing

Councillor Judy Terry, Conservative Housing Spokesperson

Councillor Judy Terry, Conservative Housing Spokesperson

A retiring councillor has launched a broadside at the Labour Party, blaming planning policy for a failure to provide housing for people in need.

Councillor Judy Terry, who will be stepping down from the council next month, criticised the policies of the ruling Labour Party, telling a local newspaper that “There is too much political interference. The planning department has lost a lot of good staff over recent years which would slow things down anyway.”

However Labour Council Leader David Ellesmere retorted that he was “not going to apologise for trying to get as many affordable homes as possible as part of new developments in the town.” He added that when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were running the Borough they “gave the go ahead for luxury flats on the Waterfront that nobody could afford and look what happened. Look at the Wine Rack.”

Mrs Terry argued that the council’s insistence on enforcing the target of 35% affordable housing on all large proposals was actively putting developers off from investing in the town. She said “Last year less than 100 new homes were built in the borough. The economy is recovering, but we’re not seeing developments in Ipswich because the council makes so many demands.”

Her argument that 35% of nothing equals nothing is compelling. Of the 96 properties completed in 2012/13, the last financial year, just 7 were affordable homes. Yet in the final year of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration, 2010/11, 337 properties were completed, of which 134 were affordable homes.

Mr Ellesmere might argue that the financial downturn brought a halt to properties being developed. Indeed he did argue that, according to a local newspaper, which reported that “Mr Ellesmere said the hiatus of the recession had led to a national slowdown in house building, but it was picking up. It was right that planning policies should be observed.”

He is right. There was a clear drop in the number of completions since 2008/9 – 899 homes were completed in Ipswich that year, of which some 265 were affordable properties. The following year just 389 homes were completed, and just 68 of these were affordable. But it is also clear that the number of affordable homes delivered by Labour in the last three years, since they took control of the council, is fewer in total than in the previous three years. The last three years of the Conservatives & Liberal Democrat led council delivered 467 affordable homes, while Mr Ellesmere’s administration has only delivered 180 since taking over – and only 8 of these are the much vaunted council houses.

All figures accurate as at March 2014, provided by Ipswich Borough Council in response to a Freedom of Information Request.

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16 Responses

  1. As a Green Party member I hold no brief for the Labour party but I must say that Cllr Terry has a very selective memory. Who was it who arranged that thousands of affordable houses in local council administration had to be sold off at discounted prices? Why her party of course? Who was it who for many years stopped Councils from using the money received by these forced sales to build replacement affordable houses? Why Councillor Terry’s party of course. Come off it Judy!

    • Two things about council house sales – over the last few years in Ipswich they’ve been fewer than 100 a year. In other words, there was a net increase in affordable homes when Mrs Terry’s party was in power. Also, most of the people who bought their home still live in them. So it isn’t until the home changes hands that it becomes a property no longer available to the community.

      I would acknowledge that the great error of the policy designed to increase home ownership & the stakeholder society was the lack of replacement homes. But in the 13 years of Labour government there were no attempts to give local councils the ability to replace the homes being lost, yet it was one of the first reforms the coalition brought in.
      Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

      • Thank you Ben. I’m always ready to be corrected. Now let’s ask David Ellesmere what effort he and fellow members of the Labour party made during the time of the Labour government to get the changes that were needed in this matter.

  2. Well that’s what I like to see. Sensible debate from Eric and Spy & thats how it should be if we want to correct the things that matter to Ipswich. Good article and I await Labour councillors response. This should be interesting….

  3. Despite communicating with me on twitter to mock cllr Terry, a favourite pasttime of theirs, I’m still awaiting their comment. Noticeable that they are not refuting your figures, so I shall use them with confidence.

  4. “The last three years of the Conservatives & Liberal Democrat led council delivered 467 affordable homes, while Mr Ellesmere’s administration has only delivered 180 since taking over – and only 8 of these are the much vaunted council houses”.
    Can someone help me please? In both these cases can someone tell me the years in question so that I can mull over this comparison?

    • Last 3 years of Tory led was 2008 up to 2011 when Labour took over. Your next post is very interesting and worrying if it pans out, as you describe.

      • Perhaps I have misunderstand Ben Redsell. He says above “But in the 13 years of Labour government there were no attempts to give local councils the ability to replace the homes being lost, yet it was one of the first reforms the coalition brought in.”
        Yet the Con-Lib Ipswich Council was able to build 467 affordable homes before 2011. How were they able to do that if the restrictions were only lifted after 2011? ( I know I’m a bit thick sometimes!)

      • Sorry for the delay Eric. You are confusing affordable housing with council housing. The Con-Lib administration oversaw delivery of privately built homes for housing associations. They produced 4 council flats as well. The Labour administration has overseen delivery of privately built homes for housing associations – and 8 council houses. They may have plans for 300 in the future, but so far they have very little delivery to shout about.

  5. I know that Ipswich Spy is primarily concerned with local issues, but national or even international events have an impact locally so I hope people won’t object if I mention events happening far from Ipswich which may have an effect on our way of life. I’m referring to the ‘Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) and in particular a section of it called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism’ (ISDS). David Cameron has said of TTIP “This is a once-in-a-generation prize and we are determined to seize it”. I wonder how many local members of the Conservative Party would agree with him if they knew what it really means for us.

    UKIP talks a lot about giving Britain back its independence from Brussels, some of which I agree with, but its silence is deafening on the proposed erosion of our hard-won rights to decide things democratically so that we lie on our back whilst multinational corporations do what they want irrespective of majority wishes by us. Could this have anything to do with the fact that Nigel Farage is by profession an investment banker ( i.e. that group of individuals who have almost bankrupted our country) and a great believer in ‘free trade’?

    As an example, our regulations on the welfare of animals destined to become food, are stricter than in many if not most countries and I think I can safely say that most British people approve of that. However under these new TIPP and ISDS rules, (if they are passed I would add), we could be taken to a private court ( not our legal ones) set up under TTIP and made to compensate these big multinationals.

    In a nutshell;It is expected that the European Commission will seek to include in the deal a mechanism known as the investor-state dispute settlement. (It has been used for many years in the North America Free Trade Area) This clause is intended to protect foreign investors from discrimination by governments. In practice it means that companies will have the right to sue foreign governments if they don’t like the local legislation. The cases are heard in private. Governments often lose. Millions of dollars have been paid to private companies when a secret panel of arbitrators decides the government has overstepped the mark by legislating, say, to make generic drugs more widely available or to stop tobacco companies aggressively marketing to children. It means in fact that foreign companies investing in Britain will have more power than British companies. So where is UKIP on this?

  6. Not speaking for UKIP – but as someone in International Trade; As concerning as the ISDS appears, I don’t see that there is anything new about having to adhere to the national laws and regulations of any nation that you trade with; or travel to.

    The UK was a founding member of EFTA; the European Free Trade Asssociation. Its objective was an intergovernmental organisation set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its member states.

    I don’t believe that anyone would argue with membership of any such group seeking to unify and simplify legislation and to promote free trade. Unfortunately those seeking a United States of Europe didn’t stop there…

    • Mark you say, and I agree,”I don’t see that there is anything new about having to adhere to the national laws and regulations of any nation that you trade with” But this ISDS breaks that custom. It means the opposite to what you say. To read a fuller account go to

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/transatlantic-free-trade-deal-regulation-by-lawyers-eu-us

  7. Eric, I don’t disagree with your point about ISDS or the very real concerns that this could have in potentially undermining or overriding established international laws governing trade.

    Many laws governing international trade (and in any aspect of life) are determined by “trial and error”, and eventually you reach a set of precedents which generally work. However, it is an ongoing process to fine tune.

    I worked for many years representing container lines at shipping conferences. The EC (DGIV) viewed them as cartels and sort their abolishment; the U.S indirectly backed the conference system requiring lines to file shipping rates with their Federal Maritime Commission. Trying to please two masters was a tipe rope walk, but over many years common ground was found. Trade carried on, goods still got shipped, while the commissions took two decades to resolve it.

    My basic point is only that Britain was the champion of free trade, and we are still a class act. The EU and parliamentary democracy is, however, is a wholly different matter. If the British electorate formally and directly endorses a handover of power to the EU then fair enough, but as it stands power over our sovereign parliament has been systematically conceded over 40 years without any direct consent by the electorate. ISDS is alarming I agree, but it pales into insignificance when measured against the impact we have felt from the undemocratic and immoral handover of power to the EU.

    • Thanks Mark I agree with all you say above. However I would like to say, and I’m no expert on this so may well be wrong, but I think we only became a champion of free trade once we were well on the way to becoming a world power. Up until that time we built up our industry behind protective tariff walls. Isn’t that so? As I understand it, doesn’t free trade almost always benefit the stronger of two nations engaged in trade with each other?

  8. Eric, I’d say that trade is not perfect but it is always more mutually beneficial than conquest or war.

    Britain has arguably been the foremost initiator of two way trade since the Magna Carta. I believe we were importing wool and exporting wares from Ipswich as early as the 7th century.

    At various and numerous times we have revolutionized industry and world trade. Prior to WW2 we had regularly produced trade surpluses and exported all over the world. Sterling was the global currency. Our banking centre was paramount.

    Many of the prevailing laws and banking structures were or remain based on our frameworks. Admittedly those heady days have long gone, yet we remain an impressive and highly respected power and a foremost proponent of free trade.

    Arguably the only time we turned our back on world trade was when we joined the EEC in 1972.

  9. Returning to the theme of who does best in provision of housing in Ipswich I’m not clear about what is meant by the words “overseeing delivery of privately built houses for housing associations” in relation to actual work done by I.B.C. Do they initiate or do they just receive planning applications? How proactive are they in pushing building projects? Do they spend their own available money and do they quickly utilise all of what they have? I assume that in all cases they have Building Inspectors. Also, in comparing the performance of one administration with another, I would have thought that as available land is slowly used up then it becomes harder for successive administrations no matter what their political colour, to emulate the performance of past administrations. Sorry if I’m raising things I ought to know about. I’ve noticed that there are not many (or even any) councillors contributing to Ipswich Spy just now. That seems reasonable considering that they are ( or should be) spending every spare moment out knocking on doors. No doubt debate will resume after May 15th.
    PS I like the story in today’s Saturday Diary of the wife of a UKIP candidate nominating a Green. Why not? Should she automatically support her husband and not have views of her own? Are the spouses of all Ipswich Councillors docile followers of their wives/husbands’ views?

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