Cllr Mione Goldspink's article for "The Flyer", February 2022

14 Feb 2022

Liberal Democrat Views by Mione Goldspink February, 2022

The District Council is updating its Housing Strategy document. This contains the noble ambition to deliver more affordable homes across the District and to improve their quality and sustainability. It also contains the stark reality of the sky-high cost of all types of housing in East Herts, and of the near-impossibility for people on lower-average incomes to be able to afford them

The Tories claim that East Herts council has enabled a 10% increase in the provision of "Affordable" Homes over the last 10 years, and I accept that figure. But, I do question their definition of "Affordable"- 80% of market price is still enormously expensive. The average house price in the district is £423,000, and 80% is £338,400 - way beyond the reach of someone on an average income of £37,164 p.a. The adjective "Affordable" is grossly misleading. Looking at "Social" housing (50% of market prices), this term seems slightly better. But, East Herts enabled only 2 such properties in the whole of the year 2020 and none at all in 2021.

Part of the cause of this tragic failure to provide Social housing is the Conservatives' decision in 2002 to sell off all its council houses to the Housing Associations. (a decision which was vigorously opposed by the Lib-Dems at the time.) This resulted in the closure of the Housing Revenue account, which meant that the Council was no longer able to build any new houses. At the next important Council meetings, I will be calling for a Working Party to be set up to investigate the possibility of opening a new Housing Revenue Account. We do need to build again, as everyone deserves the chance to live in a decent home.

The District Council also needs to make Savings in its forthcoming Budget. Central Government has slashed the funding to all local councils and, at the same time, it has withdrawn its permission for money-making schemes, so, painful cuts are having to be made. There is a suggestion that funding for the community toilet scheme should be stopped. Although this is a poorly advertised scheme, under which the Council pays shops to allow members of the public to use their toilets, it is much better than nothing. The Liberal Democrats will be arguing for the scheme to be saved.

Another entity which I hope will be saved, is the sloping access to the Station from Station Road east. The developers, Solum, have now committed to finding a way to do this.

A Planning Application by Lidl for a new large food store at the northern end of Stansted Road will soon be coming before the Planning Committee (Development Management). I am still not convinced that all the potential traffic problems have been sorted out. Some of the surveys were done in the Christmas holidays, which would not have given an accurate picture, - I think that more should be done.

I would like to commend the year 6 pupils at St Michael's School for undertaking and completing a 10mile sponsored walk around Bishop's Stortford, which raised £1,000 for Refugee Action. They had read a book about the experiences of a real child refugee, and this had stirred their imagination and compassion, and had fired them into action. What a heart-warming story.

Mione Goldspink


East Herts District Councillor

Lib-Dem Group Leader, EHDC.