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Not in my backyard

Here in Newcastle, there’s been a long-running saga about a massive new housing estate—Great Park. In fact, ‘massive housing estate’ considerably undersells it: with more than 4,000 homes planned, it is essentially a whole new suburb of the city.

Construction started in 2001 and has continued apace. A town centre was constructed some years ago, but until recently it was the subject of great controversy because there were virtually no shops or services open in the units built along it. Residents were very upset that they had no local services. Earlier this year, Morrisons opened in the town centre to great fanfare.

It’s against this backdrop that I read over the weekend that Rishi Sunak disapproves of services being close to where people live. To quote BBC News:

The Government said its plan would stop councils implementing “15-minute cities”, where essential amenities are always within a 15-minute walk.

Apparently, Sunak considers building essential amenities close to people’s homes to be part of a

war on motorists

A war we can only assume is being waged by the Government. Imagine how angry he will be when he realises who’s in charge of that.

Now, Newcastle hasn’t had so much as a Conservative councillor for almost three decades, so perhaps I’m out of touch. Indeed, in the latest round of local elections, their percentage share of the vote didn’t make it into double figures, their 27 candidates averaging fewer than 300 votes apiece. I walk past my local Conservative club most days, and their brass plaque is frequently defaced with amusing, topically critical slogans written on masking tape, which always strikes me as a politely British form of protest.

Yet: I can’t imagine that a desire to put essential amenities further away from people’s houses is likely to be a vote-winner. I don’t know anyone who has ever said “I can’t rent this place, the GP is less than 15 minutes’ walk away!”

This is Sunak pandering to ridiculous conspiracy theorists, seemingly without any insight into the fact that the Government is assumed to be part of the conspiracy. It is literally laughable: I was sitting on a park bench when I read that BBC line, and I laughed out loud.

Today, we get to see whether he has enough similarly insane policy ideas to turn his first—and, I’d happily wager, last—conference party leader speech into a stand-up comedy act.

Here’s hoping.

This post was filed under: Politics, Post-a-day 2023, .

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