Damn You Echo – Quote Your Source And Don’t Withhold The Facts!

PRESUMABLY IN A LEAD-UP to Bandwagon Bob’s release of another news letter extolling the success of his greenbelt campaign, the Echo today decided to eliminate the facts contained in an Observer piece from which their story ‘Joy at Tory plan to scrap Labour housing targets’ is drawn.

Housing will be a major issue in the general election campaign and the public deserves to be informed of a cynical ploy by the national Conservative Party to ensure they attract green campaigner votes from what is nothing more than an ‘intention.’

Castle Point Greens have already been manipulated by the sitting MP for his political ends, and it appears the Echo is content to let this continue by promoting an asinine ploy by the Conservative Party to remove the issue from the doorstep agenda.

In his article for the Observer, on Sunday, Nick Mathiason said this:-

Conservative MPs and councils have been advised to delay major commercial and housing developments until a Tory administration gets into power, according to a letter from Caroline Spelman, the shadow communities secretary, seen by the Observer. The move will infuriate housebuilders and anger homeless charities desperate to see more homes built as quickly as possible.

The letter, written in recent days, outlines the Conservatives’ intention of introducing a new local government and housing bill in its first year of office.

New Tory policy would “revoke … in whole or in part” all of Labour’s regional development targets. This, writes Spelman, will “put the brakes on elements of regional spatial strategies that [local authorities] find undesirable”.

The leaked letter states that a Conservative government “would not pay a penny of compensation to speculative developers as a consequence of changes in planning policy”. It gives a licence to authorities to delay developments. “We would advise councils not to rush ahead with implementing the controversial elements of regional spatial strategies [regional planning guidelines],” it says.

A spokesman from the Home Builders Federation said: “The letter gives rise to real concern. There is no recognition of the desperate need in all parts of the country for more homes of all kinds and tenures, or of the responsibility of local authorities to make provision for these. Rather, local authorities are seemingly being encouraged to put such considerations aside if they want to. Hard-pressed first-time buyers and those on the growing waiting list for social housing would suffer in particular.

“The timing is unfortunate: housing providers have been through the worst downturn in living memory and the letter would lead to a hiatus in planning for housing that could only exacerbate the supply crisis we already face.”

But Grant Shapps, the Conservative shadow housing minister, who confirmed the existence of the letter, said current targets were not working. “We don’t believe in a top-down approach that is Stalinist in nature,” he said. “Housing completions are at record lows. This has to be seen in the context that would give real incentives to build more homes. We are unabashed about the need for more housing.”

Shapps argued that many of Labour’s regional development strategies faced legal challenges which were delaying the provision of new homes. He suggested councils should not waste time fighting these if they thought a Conservative victory at the next election was likely.

Housing minister John Healey said: “I think the Tories are getting ahead of themselves taking the election for granted. Crude threats and uncertainty are the last thing builders need as they battle the recession.

“We are backing builders with £1bn to kick-start our way out of recession and the Tories are pulling the rug from under them.

“It seems that the Tories don’t have a plausible policy to secure the investment this country needs.”


Guardian Mulls Future

(Reuters) – THE GUARDIAN MEDIA GROUP is considering options for its Guardian newspaper, Observer Sunday newspaper and online publications as it faces the fact it will emerge from recession as a smaller organisation.

In a letter to staff written in response to media reports that the company was mulling closing the Observer, GMG’s chief executive said Guardian News & Media was conducting a strategic review and it was too early to say what the outcome would be.

‘When the economy recovers, so — to a degree — will our advertising revenues. However, due to structural change, these revenues will not be at the levels they were in the past,’ Carolyn McCall wrote in an email seen by Reuters today.

‘This inevitably means we will be a smaller organisation,’ she added. ‘A wide variety of different options, approaches and scenarios is being developed and will be considered.’

She said every aspect of GNM’s publishing strategy and titles would be examined, including the Observer, the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, which was first published in 1791.

Guardian Media Group, which is owned by the Scott Trust, last Friday reported a pretax loss of £89.8 million for its 2008/09 fiscal year, compared with a profit of £306.4 million the previous year.

GMG’s turnover increased slightly to £637.9 million, including its share of two joint venture companies.

The Scott Trust was created in 1936 to safeguard the Guardian’s journalistic freedom and liberal values. Its stated core purpose is ‘to preserve the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity.’ It does not mention the Observer.

Rival Sunday newspaper the Sunday Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, plans to launch its own dedicated website separate from timesonline.co.uk, a spokeswoman for News Corp’s UK subsidiary News International confirmed today.

The Observer’s circulation was 410,000 in June, slightly up from May, according to Britain’s Audit Bureau of Circulation. The Sunday Times, Britain’s best-selling quality Sunday, also slightly increased its circulation to 1.2 million.

… (Press Gazette, 03/08/2009) – Why closing The Observer is a terrible idea