By Cllr M Americanos-Molinaro, Hertfordshire Branch Chair

19th August 2020

Recently, an opinion column poured scorn on local Councillors trying to respect constituents’ wishes on planning and housing issues. Their sarcastic tone accused local groups of wanting to “preserve in aspic” the areas in which they live. It appeared that they thought little of ‘developing’ and changing the face of a pretty, peaceful village, against the wishes of residents and their chosen representatives.

In addition to having to contend with such views, Councillors throughout the UK are now being informed that all manner of changes are on their way; changes to planning legislation, white papers being drawn up with an ever increasing urgency, changes which shall result in a deluge of applications for all sorts of projects which will place even heavier burdens on local infrastructures and amenities.

Surely it is time for us to question why the urgency to loosen our planning laws? Why the persistent steamrolling over our local groups’ concerns about their towns and villages, particularly at a time like this? In the light of the last 7 years’ dropping UK birth rates why is it so essential to build so much new housing all over the country? What is going on?

Net migration figures into the UK which accelerated in 2019 provide at least part of the answer along with the “ask no questions” mass-immigration policies of Labour and Conservatives.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the legal UK population is approximately 67 Million. This does not include an additional 1.2 million illegal migrants in 2019. Over the past 10 years the net migration into the UK has averaged a staggering 256,000 each year with the highest level in 2019, since 2016. (Source Migration Watch UK)

Perhaps this is the driver behind the loosening of the planning laws? Perhaps this is why our local councils find themselves under ever increasing pressure from Central government to permit massive housing projects despite the concerns of the local people. Whilst our country has been on a painful lockdown, our government has been rushing through and pushing out changes to our local planning laws so as to get housing projects underway for more permanent solutions to the swelling migrant numbers. The ONS has already confirmed that immigration has “increased the overall demand for housing”, in turn there will inevitably mean pressure on our own services and finances.

The latest debacle, highlighting our government’s lack of will, is that of the illegal economic migrants crossing the channel. Escorted into British waters by the French navy in convoy they are escorted by our own border force to landing points in the UK where coaches take them to centres i.e. hotels for free board, free dental and medical care, a weekly allowance and a phone. One such centre is on our doorstep in neighbouring Epping, the 3* Bell Hotel. This despite having paid France to prevent migrants leaving their camps in their designated “safe country”.

These illegal crossings have doubled since 2019, estimated at 4000 this year the numbers are growing with the improving weather. Priti Patel’s inaction has seen an acceleration of numbers coming across. Does she even care that we are aiding and abetting the human traffickers in their profit making?

British people are required to quarantine when returning from some holiday destinations but the illegal migrants being escorted to our shores are held to a different standard, no draconian mask wearing for them in their hotels…

The 4 billion pound contract with Serco – set to run for 10 years, suggests our government has long term intentions towards housing a continuing stream of such economic migrants in UK hotels and purpose built properties for years to come.

So next time somebody wants to write in with an opinion piece attacking a Councillor or a small local group for wanting to preserve their district’s character, maybe they should instead direct their attention to those further up the chain of power. Perhaps direct your anger towards those who are facilitating the last leg of the inward journey of economic migrants with our own tax payer funded rescue services, those who have sold out the British taxpayer to provide homes for strangers from across the world – whilst our own people face a housing shortage created by successive governments’ failed immigration policies.

Cllr M Americanos-Molinaro
Hertfordshire Branch Chair
For Britain