Soubry And The Campaign That Isn’t Going To Plan.

Another post? So soon after you wrote your last one? Haven’t you got a birthday to celebrate tomorrow? What with this fervant need to tell us more stuff?

Still yourself, dear reader. I have an early birthday present and I simply can’t let it wait till I’m over 38 years old before I tell you. Before I start, grab a cup of tea, and get comfy. If your name is Anna Soubry MP, do the same, put perhaps substitute the tea for Grappa. You very well may need it.

Let’s talk housing; an issue that is without doubt the real number one zinger of a subject in Broxtowe right now. Beestonians possibly don’t see it as so – we are far too engrossed in the tram shenanigans- but zoom out a bit and the battles being fought in Stapleford and Toton regarding the siting of new housing are getting rather bloody.

A quick precis: Broxtowe Borough Council are charged by Central Government to draw up a plan to address the problem of a lack of affordable housing factoring in variables such as demographic projections, urban density and so on. This has created great controversy, due to various gree-belt sites being identified, and as such given our dear MP a strong stump to campaign from: she has done little else to show she is ‘Broxtowe’s Voice In Westminster’ as she promised before the election, so a popularist campaign on an emotive subject is a god-send for her, and her campaign manager (Neil Davidson, her partner, who we shall come back to).

So what’s not to like about this campaign? Who truly wants to build on green-field sites? We recognise the need for more housing, and I personally think the solution to that conundrum is a huge rethink on how property is owned in this country: not something that any party will dare get into unless the house-price obsessed populace feel the gold-mine they live in is under threat in any way.

Without such a radical overhaul, one has to be pragmatic and thorough. The process of deciding sites needs to be kept firmly within local democracy, however unpopular their decisions may turn out to be. The developments in Toton and on Stapleford’s Field Farm will never have outright cheerleaders (though it is worth remembering that where you are sitting right now was at some point in history greenbelt), but to fail to come up with a coherant plan that satisfies the Government appointed Planning Inspector will result in a virtual carte blanche to developers. The thinking runs thus: if you can’t sort it out, then tough, we’ll take that power away.

This is no idle threat. Planning Minister Nick Boles MP recently issued a statement, endorsed by the PM, that priority should be given in all Government departments to address the housing crisis, with an attack on the NIMBYism of those who oppose siting new estates on greenfield.

In regards to the above, I asked Soubry, via Twitter, if she would be willing to stand up in the Commons and rebuke this. No answer, unsurprisingly has been recieved. Where thus, do her loyalties lie? Does she stand up for Broxtowe campaign and clash with Cameron and the Cabinet, or does she pretend Boles didn’t say anything and let her Government do one thing while telling her constituents she’s doing all she can?

Anna’s response to solving the crisis has been consistent, that I will give her. We should look to Rushcliffe, of course, and the way they are treating the new-homes issue. A good point, maybe we should. I hadn’t really though of casting my eye that side of the Trent, but then again, I’m unlikely to ever live there, unlike Anna.

So what of Rushcliffe’s plan that Anna is so in awe of? Are we idiots not to demand our Borough Councillors look over to Rushcliffe? Until today, you might have thought it might be a good idea.

That was until the Government Planning Inspector responsible for overseeing Rushcliffe’s plans, Jill Kingaby, damned their proposals, regarding them as severely flawed and  unworkable  .  Still a fan, Anna?

If Rushcliffe don’t sort out their plan, then they lose control of where planning goes, and this is passed over to developers to do what they will. Is this what Soubry wants? Surely not. Surely this could never happen to any Council?

Step forward, Castle Point Council, in Essex, whose Core Strategy was rejected fter being pronounced ‘unsound’. Residents there are now fighting what seems like an unwinnable battle against developers there who seem to have been giving free-rein to build. The developers? Persimmon.

Soubry’s partner and Campaign Manager is the aforementioned Neil Davidson, who is a non-executive director, and shareholder at Persimmon. Just a coincidence, I’m sure: non-executive directors have, as the name suggests, have no (offical) executive power. Anna and Neil are notoriously tetchy on this point, to the point of issuing pre-legal notices to Broxtowe Labour Party when they noticed the connection. Draw your own conclusions.

To summarise, what looks like Anna’s personal Core Strategy for reelection in Broxtowe come 2015 (or sooner) is on shakier ground than a house built by Persimmon. How can she:

  • Claim Broxtowe should follow Rushcliffe in addressing planning strategy?
  • Reconcile her postion with that of Cameron and Boles?

Feel free to email / write / shout at a brick wall these concerns to our MP.

12 thoughts on “Soubry And The Campaign That Isn’t Going To Plan.

  1. Field Farm in Stapleford IS GREENBELT and not greenfield land. Just wanted to point that out.

    • beestonia says:

      My bad: you’re totally correct, I just checked the legal distinction, and amended as such. BTW, did you ever hear from Anna regarding Bole’s statement?

      • I haven’t spoken to anyone regards anything about Field Farm or any developments for a while now as I have been so busy with my Community Group. I wanted to keep the two issues seperate and the group has really taken over for me now. I need to work out wordpress as I am wanting to get the community group out to more people.

      • beestonia says:

        I would be more than willing to help you with that: I presently am doing that as my job but am more than willing to give free support for such a scheme: I’m, as you know, not just ex-Stabbo but ex-Perth Drive. Drop me an email on and we’ll sort out a meeting.

  2. Javid says:

    We must all await her pronouncements on this with baited breath. Just as we wait for her to fulfill her election pledge. How’s the move going?

  3. Javid says:

    I’m now confused. You say “Soubry’s partner and Campaign Manager is the aforementioned Neil Davidson, who is a non-executive director, and shareholder at Persimmon.”

    But Anna Soubry is on record as stating in the House of Commons that her partner “is a director of Persimmon and sits on its board”. (no mention of non-executive).

    Has she switched partners or have you got this wrong?

  4. David Watts says:

    Eric Pickles also allowed a huge housing estate to be built on green belt land in Bude because of their lack of an effective plan and their failure to properly allocate land for housing. This is the danger that we have been facing on the council which AS and her cohorts chose to ignore. No-one wants to sacrifice green belt land but if the options are between losing 2% of it (the councils plan) or losing all of it (the inevitable result of following AS’s approach) then I know which I prefer.

    After the abuse that my colleagues and I have had to take from the Tories over this, some of which has been very personal and vile, I do feel rather vindicated.

  5. Steve Barber says:

    Agreed David, I have had some vitreol but you have taken a great deal.

    Mr Pickles has also just approved, against the wishes of the local authority, a housing estate next to Ann Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford upon Avon. So much for localism.

  6. kerrycooks says:

    The whole earth was greenbelt once I suppose, but then people need somewhere to live. Shocking ineptitude by the Sourbs as usual, roll on the next election!

  7. I still question how much we need to build all these new houses…regenerating and renovating is harder work and just as expensive, but surely more sustainable?

  8. carol brown says:

    any chance there could be low cost housing for rent/purchase built on the “bomb sites” being created in Beeston town centre?

  9. […] Is Soubz ok? I’m only asking out of genuine concern for her. She has a lot on her plate at the moment, with her popularity in Broxtowe at worm-eye view; the reforms to the NHS she supports being universally tore apart by health professionals and her stance on her defining local issue, the Greenbelt, in ruins after her alignment with Rushcliffe’s strategy was rubbished, as I previously reported on here. […]

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