Sunday, 10 January 2010

Tree-bulldozing national holiday declared

I was reading the Bath Chronicle when I stumbled upon a most controversial plan by the Bath & North East Somerset Council to build 2000 houses on 115 acres of the greenbelt surrounding Bath. What is outrageous about this is that many members of the public have voiced their concerns that such expansion will jeopardise Bath’s World Heritage status. Such criticisms, however, have fallen on deaf ears. Why, you ask? Because it is the Government, not the local council, that has set these housing targets with little regard for anything other than meeting these targets the way a good, bloated bureaucracy should. As one has come to expect in these times, there was little transparency in creating these targets and the method employed to reach such conclusions were anything but fair. The projections were made before the recession, during rapid growth and are thus based on the premise that such growth shall continue unabated. It is obvious that the Government cares little for guaranteeing open space for its constituents. Open fields are a threat to Gordon Brown’s agenda, after all, for he dislikes non-industrious areas of land (unless the non-industrious land is a concrete street block filled with ASBO‘s).

Meanwhile, the city of Bath has an ample supply of dilapidated properties that could be rehabilitated to serve these housing targets. The government has done nothing to encourage such brownfield development; why is this? Perhaps this plan will contribute to the already hefty pile of evidence that suggests that the government has become so bloated that it can’t help but overlook environmental, cultural and practical factors in big decisions. If the critics are right, our nation shall be one greenbelt less ‘green‘, Bath will lose its World Heritage status- along with all the revenue the city makes from tourism- and the politicians will have ignored their constituents yet again. All this just for some more houses? What is more disturbing is that the Government hasn’t released details on the ratio of council-owned houses to privately-owned ones. It’s bad enough that the Labour party have been giving financially disadvantaged individuals incentives to have children and allowing more immigrants in. Now those whom Brown has bribed into voting for him need places to stay, and those places might as well be built to the detriment of our heritage and environment, right?

As I said, a lot of these criticisms are being dismissed by the Government. The Government would defend itself, claiming that people have been given a chance to voice their opinions and have an impact on policy. The problem there is that many would retort that the Government purposefully made the publicly viewable document too complicated for the average constituent to comprehend, let alone gave them enough time to give feedback.

As a Libertarian, my conclusion is quite simple: such matters should not be trusted in the hands of a bloated, national government, but should be handled at the local level by a limited government - taking counsel from local residents, of course - and local businesses. Perhaps then, such embarrassing and potentially dangerous mismanagements of taxpayer’s money can be avoided.

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