John Clark writes…
First published: October 2002
It may not be appropriate to write a column that contradicts a fellow columnist. There are two reasons for putting pen to paper. The subject is very important for Ryedale and secondly, to put it simply, Paul Andrews has, in my opinion, got it wrong. (Ryeview August 21st?)
Along with many others he seems to believe that the proposed Yorkshire and Humberside Region would be controlled by the Labour Party. His reasoning being that Labour would be elected in the big towns and cities of Yorkshire. From this position Labour would dominate the whole Region. What is the cause of his concern? The Tories and Democrats don’t believe they will be elected in urban areas. If the Democrat policies are not supported by urban voters then maybe the policies are wrong. Just being electable in the countryside puts the Democrats in the political position of ‘pink Tories’
People who were born and bred in the countryside are being driven into the towns. The forces causing this migration are lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing and lack of public transport. The poorer and younger members of society are being forced out of the countryside. This is all contributing to the present’ rural crisis’. Farmers have lost contact with their customers. Many urban people believe that food ‘comes from the supermarket’. It is the supermarkets that tell them about food. Equally or maybe as a result many urban dwellers view the countryside as a ‘park’. They do not see it as where their food is produced. Any political party that doesn’t represent or aspire to represent most of the groups in society has a very weak claim, if any, to be elected. The Labour (old and new) and Tory parties have exacerbated this divide for over half a century. It is very disappointing that the Democrats wish to compound the problem.
Let us now examine the Ryedale angle. The £7million of Ryedale surplus is not as Paul says really for the people of Ryedale in general to decide. Yes technically, but morally no. It results, I understand, in the main from the sale of housing. It is certainly not an attractive dowry as described by Cllr. Keith Knaggs. It is not for schemes, however worthy, it is money for affordable housing.
There is a double benefit to it staying with affordable housing. Firstly housing is needed in Ryedale. It is needed for the poor, the young, and the residents of Ryedale. A few houses should be built in many villages as well as some in the towns. These should be social housing. Not for sale. Not for profit. Housing for those that need. Of course we need other facilities. What facilities do we need more than we need the younger and poorer members of Ryedale? This leads into the second reason. It is one of the areas described above. Thus money used for housing would help to reduce the urban rural divide.
If my understanding is correct the Democrats are in favour of hypothecation of taxation. For example, a penny on income tax for ‘education’. I don’t know what part the Democrats take in Ryedale District Council but here is an opportunity for them. An opportunity to use housing money for housing as was originally designated.
Rural versus urban policies have failed. The policy of ‘council house sales’ has failed the young and the poor. This is an opportunity for elected politicians to do something. Why am I not hopeful?