You may have noticed that this site tends not to cover Bexley Borough as much as those further west. There’s fantastic sites in the borough already covering news and events such as Bexley is Bonkers and Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich.
However this week some statements have been made by one of Bexley’s Councillors that were quite eye-opening. I’d never heard much of John Davey (Conservative – Crayford) until very recently. I’m sure Bexley is Bonkers had featured him before but that’s about it.
However he’s been making some statements on housing which are likely to go down like a lead balloon.
In response to questions on housing numbers, he claimed:
As a major issue, many would expect councillors to have at least a general knowledge. Could it be because the numbers are very poor?
A 359 home development in his ward was recently approved with zero affordable housing, let alone any social housing.
His last line here is a corker:
I have sympathy for politicians on Twitter. They can be bombarded. For many it would make more sense to write up a post every week or two on a website detailing what they are doing and how to contact them. But very few do.
It’s telling though how some good politicians rarely get any criticism as they do answer questions – even if it’s just to be honest and say “I don’t know” or that they’ll look into the issue without being dismissive or defensive.
On a wider level, many ignore questions or write statements that are flat out wrong and then become very touchy when it’s remarked upon.
When it was highlighted that this wasnt a great look (in an advisory way as much as anything) he immediately did what some councillors do and claim any questioning must mean that you’re a political opponent.
We’ve seen it from some Labour councillors in Greenwich. It’s a shame some live in a polarised world where questions, or sometimes mere comments, must mean the questioner is at the other end of the political spectrum and an enemy. A sad state of affairs.
As anyone who reads this site knows, issues with Labour in Greenwich borough are often highlighted. Any group in power should be held to account and issues raised – Labour or Tory.
Wider impacts of housing
The shortage of truly affordable housing and its effects do not only impact upon a small minority.
A lack of truly affordable homes has resulted in ever-increasing numbers of family homes, often in Conservative areas, being converted to Homes of Multiple Occupation due to the housing shortage.
This is also leading to a shortage of owner-occupied homes for families to live which damages the Tory vote. This process also often causes issues and friction with neighbours due to turnover of residents. Community bonds are broken with highly transient residents.
Those in secure rented accommodation or owner-occupiers are also now discovering housing issues mean children staying in the family home longer and longer due to high costs.
The statements made by Cllr John Davey seem a bit tin ear to say the least, given these issues which affect his ward of Crayford, and that this issue will increasingly hurt the Conservatives on a wider level.
Many pollsters claim last year’s surprise election result of a hung parliament was in large part due to a big growth in younger voters, many of whom are frustrated at very expensive housing.
With a small 200 seat majority John Davey seems to be playing a risky game in appearing not to be dismissive on an issue of ever increasing importance.
EDIT: He is moving from standing as a Crayford councillor to West Heath which covers areas of Bexleyheath, where there was a larger Conservative majority at the last election.
But even solid owner-occupier parts of suburbia like Bexleyheath are increasingly seeing buy-to-let landlords and HMOs move in to the frustration of many. The impacts of little new truly affordable housing are reaching ever further.
There’s an ever increasing number of pissed off people when it comes to housing. Many politicians on all sides are still way too slow to realise this. Those that do will gain the electoral rewards.