A lack of diversity in local government? Not in my back yard

Heygate Estate

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Today Theresa May is set to speak about housing at a planning conference in London, where she will criticise “nimby” local authorities and developers sitting on land, watching its value rise without building on it.

It is embarrassing for the Prime Minister that this is being billed as a major speech when its unambitious proposals were first unveiled a year ago, as pointed out by shadow housing secretary John Healey. Its focus also misses the point. The chair of the Local Government Association – who is a Tory, don’t forget – has already criticised the speech on Twitter: “If we want more houses, we have to build them, not plan them”.

Sajid Javid last week sent back over £800m to the Treasury after underspending on housing. As Healey said, if the MHCLG secretary “can’t defend his department’s budget from the Treasury, he should give the job to someone who can”.

Meanwhile, the housing crisis deepens. The fact that rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 is a source of national shame, as one Labour member has written about for LabourList today. The Tories need to take urgent action and stop shifting the blame onto overstretched councils.

On the subject of those councils, the Labour Party has asked the government to implement a raft of measures that would improve diversity in local government. Councillor and NEC member Alice Perry has shared with us some of the proposals.

From introducing parental leave and reforming the allowance system to removing home addresses from ballot papers, the demands are straight-forward and would go some way to address the issues faced by people from under-represented groups who are either currently in post or looking to stand.

It’s International Women’s Day on Thursday, so keep an eye on LabourList this week for more articles on how we can change structures for the better, keep fighting for women’s liberation and celebrate the political achievements of women.


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