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Westlake Legal Group > Manchester

Andrew Laird: The Prime Minister’s devolution drive will protect public services from Brexit chaos

Andrew Laird is a founder and Director of Mutual Ventures.

A couple of weeks ago, Boris Johnson’s first full policy speech as Prime Minister focused on English devolution. Manchester was a significant choice of venue as it is the area in England (outside of London) which has enjoyed the most devolution of powers.

As the former mayor of London, the new Prime Minister is clearly a big fan of devolving powers to cities and local areas. This is very good news indeed for local public services.

While ministers and Parliament focus on delivering Brexit, local services (e.g. adult social care, children’s services and even the NHS), are looking increasingly like unintended victims. These services need constant care and attention, both through legislative updates and serious policy research and discussion at a national level. But they haven’t been getting any of this.

Over the last couple of years there has been an increasing number of central government actions and decisions being delayed, which has made life more difficult for those delivering local services. This is largely due to ministers and MPs focusing on Brexit and thousands of civil servants being taken away from their normal jobs of supporting public services to work on exit planning.

Regardless of your view on Brexit, this was always going to be an inevitable consequence. The Brexit process has taken up policy-making and decision-making headspace usually spent on other things – things which are essential to smooth running of public services.

As an example, one of the biggest challenges facing the Government is the funding crisis in adult social care. Alongside devolution and infrastructure investment, Johnson has also identified social care as a key priority. The green paper on social care needs to set out a serious long term financial answer – but it has been continually delayed.

There are three Brexit-related issues causing this delay.

The first is creating the time for ministers and the Cabinet to agree to the plan – there hasn’t been much non-Brexit bandwidth at the top of government. This extends way back before the leadership election which itself caused additional ministerial stasis.

The second is that the planned cross-government spending review can’t really take place until our path through Brexit is confirmed. It’s impossible to set out a long term solution to social care without knowing the funding available.

The third is that any serious social care solution will involve tough decisions which will require media space to explain it to the public. Again, there isn’t much non-Brexit media time at the minute. So social care services have been left to struggle on without any long-term funding certainty.

This is already having a much wider impact across public services. Without setting out a long-term funding solution for social care, NHS reforms will struggle to take hold. The NHS and social care are inextricably linked, with service users often bouncing between the two in an unplanned way. So Johnson’s decision to focus on resolving the adult social care crisis is to be welcomed.

Turning back to devolution, distributing funding and decision making to cities and local areas is a big part of the immediate answer to challenges like social care – and also a mechanism to prevent the build-up of issues in the future.

Across the political spectrum, the Prime Minister is largely preaching to the choir on devolution. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is already showing what can be achieved for a region with devolved authority and has set out his asks from the new Johnson administration on this site. We also have the beginnings of the “Northern Powerhouse”, based around the 11 northern Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Inspired by this, a recent report commissioned by Bristol, Cardiff, and Newport City Councils (‘A Powerhouse for the West‘) is calling for a similar arrangement along the M4 corridor, from Swindon across to Cardiff and Swansea, and from Gloucester and Cheltenham to Bath and Bristol. Grand partnership strategies like this, combined with more localised devolution to cities, councils, and combined authorities, are what is needed.

The drive for devolution has been knocked down the priority list. This was once a really positive agenda item for central government. Giving local areas additional powers was a big step towards empowering local communities, elected mayors, and councillors, and had the added benefit of insulating local services from the process of delivering Brexit.

Johnson has recognised this, and he should move quickly to encourage and support a new wave of devolution deals.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Vindication: Trump Gets Grilled for Claiming His Rally Attracted a Bigger Crowd Than Elton John. But Look

Westlake Legal Group elton-john-arms-open-AP-620x317 Vindication: Trump Gets Grilled for Claiming His Rally Attracted a Bigger Crowd Than Elton John. But Look Uncategorized Social Media Politics New Hampshire Manchester Front Page Stories Featured Story Entertainment Elton John donald trump Culture Campaigns Allow Media Exception 2020

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour” at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

 

 

On Thursday night, Donald Trump unleashed a tweet that got a heck of a blowback. After his rally in Manchester, he tweeted the following:

“Tonight, we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena in Manchester, New Hampshire!”

Reportedly, he was referring to the Crocodile Rocker’s 2004 triumph.

Cue the ridicule:

Ya gotta love this picture:

There’s one problem with the social media slam: Trump’s claim was actually correct.

That’s according to Manchester Deputy Fire Marshal Mitchell Cady, who oversaw the crowd count.

Here’s what he told The Daily Mail:

“[Attendance was] just over 11,500. … [T]he arena staff said Elton John was around 11,300.”

Additionally, Mitchell noted The Donald had about 8,000-9,000 fans outside the arena watching the jumbotron.

And there’s more:

“Had some more snuck in during the period when we’re trying to assess the situation and get the door closed, when we’re trying to get everyone through the mags (walk-through metal detectors), then maybe it’s 11,500-plus.”

As pointed out by The Daily Wire, just Wednesday New York Times writer Gail Collins took this jab at the Trumpster:

“Trump can’t bear suggestions that he’s not a crowd megamagnet. Every time he gets on a stage, he seems compelled to claim the audience is of epic proportions. The place is packed! Not to mention the masses waiting outside!”

If I may, I’d like to add: I really like Elton John. As a person, he seems wholly unencumbered by groupthink. He does things his way, thinks his own way, and he doesn’t care what anyone else has to say about it. In my estimation, the world could use more like him in that regard. The man dueted with Eminem — despite his anti-gay-labeled lyrics; Elton performed at the wedding of Rush Limbaugh, for Pete’s sake.

He’s his own man.

As for Rush’s nuptials, Elton offered this:

“Life is about building bridges, not walls.”

-ALEX

 

See 4 more pieces from me:

Louisiana Woman Accused Of Theft Tells Cops She Has No Idea How The Meth & Money Got There – In Her Vagina

The 10 Stages Of Genocide: A Social Media Marvel Provides A Window Into America’s Growing Mental Disorder

Best & Stupidest This Week: The UK Wars With Cutlery, Offers Knife-Free Chicken Boxes & Tales Of Murder For Dinner

A Popular Meme Points Out The Idiocy Of Democratic Dissent As Women Long To Be Free As Guns

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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The post Vindication: Trump Gets Grilled for Claiming His Rally Attracted a Bigger Crowd Than Elton John. But Look appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group elton-john-arms-open-AP-300x153 Vindication: Trump Gets Grilled for Claiming His Rally Attracted a Bigger Crowd Than Elton John. But Look Uncategorized Social Media Politics New Hampshire Manchester Front Page Stories Featured Story Entertainment Elton John donald trump Culture Campaigns Allow Media Exception 2020   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: The hustings. From Manchester to Belfast – and on to Nottingham.

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

‘Populist’ has replaced the phrase ‘Alt right’ as the lefty choice of word to insult politicians on the Right. Boris Johnson is often now described as a ‘populist’ politician. It’s meant to put him in the same class as Matteo Salvini, Viktor Orban and, of course, Donald Trump.

He is, of course, nothing like them if you actually look at what he believes. As I put it to him at one of the hustings, he’s actually very much on the liberal side of conservative thinking.

This is the man who once flirted with an amnesty for illegal immigrants. This is the man who has an exemplary record of supporting the adoption of pro-gay rights legislation. On that point, it’s always good to remind Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters that Johnson voted to repeal Section 28 in 2002. Corbyn did not.

Brexit blinkers those who just view Johnson through the ‘populist’ prism. They deliberately ignore the rest of his beliefs in a vain attempt to smear him as some sort of far-right ideologue. My suspicion is that if he goes on to win the leadership, we’ll see a government that is very far from what the Guardian and its ilk likes to imagine.

– – – – – – – – – –

Talking of the hustings, I’ve now compered five of them, with number six coming up tomorrow morning in Nottingham.

One of the challenges is to keep things fresh and to introduce new areas of questioning on each occasion. In Manchester on Saturday, I decided to devote my ten minutes with each candidate to Northern Powerhouse issues. Rather hilariously, just before we went on stage I got a text from Greater Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, with a couple of questions for the candidates – well, five actually.

I rather theatrically waved my phone at the 800 strong audience and asked them if I should ask Johnson a question from Mayor Burnham. “YEEEES”, they cried. So I did. The audience then clapped the question, and he then paid tribute to Burnham and agreed with the thrust of the question. Strange times.

– – – – – – – – – –

At the end of interviews with the candidates, I have taken to asking them a light-hearted question. The answers  often give people a very different insight into the candidates’ characters, and also demonstrate an ability (or lack thereof) to think quickly on their feet.

In Manchester, I had forgotten to prepare such a question, so I just asked something very simple: which place in the North West that they had visited had left the most memorable impression. OK – not very original and not exactly the most challenging question I have ever asked.

Johnson chose the Midland Hotel in Manchester…and I could almost sense the collective mind of the audience start to boggle. He then explained that, in 1906, Winston Churchill had held a very important meeting there, the details of which now escape me.

It then came to Jeremy Hunt’s turn. I’m pretty sure he hadn’t heard Johnson’s answer, but he too gave the Midland Hotel as his choice. He looked rather perplexed when the audience collapsed into fits of laughter. He then went on to explain that it was where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce. Who knew?

– – – – – – – –

On Tuesday morning, I got up at 5.30am to fly to Belfast from Heathrow. Apparently, I wasn’t deserving of a place on the private jet which flew the candidates and their entourages there!

Unusually for me, all the travel plans went smoothly, and I arrived at Belfast City Airport on time. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Northern Ireland politics, so I spent some time getting a briefing from someone who does. Always a good idea when you’re keen to avoid causing some sort of diplomatic incident.

I arrived at the venue quite early, and spent some time talking to audience members as they started trickling into the hall. Hunt varied his standard hustings speech rather more than Johnson did – and we were spared another rendition of the McHuntyface joke.

Praise be. I know it’s difficult when there are 16 different hustings to do a different speech at each, but both candidates would be well advised to shake it up for the final eight. If they don’t the media will lose interest.

I had been told by various people in advance of the Belfast hustings that Northern Ireland Conservatives were just like English Tories but about 20 years behind in terms of their social views. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the questions in Belfast were of a better quality and incisiveness than at any of the other hustings so far. And they were generally quite progressive, and not obsessed with issues which only related to Northern Ireland. It was also good to see so many under-30s in the audience.

– – – – – – – – – –

The styles of the two candidates are clearly very different. Hunt is never going to match Johnson for rhetorical flourish, but his great asset is his unflappability in his response to hostile questioning. And there’s been some pretty tough questions from each of the audiences.

He sits up, back ramrod straight, then leans into the audience and tries to reassure them. It’s part of the reason David Cameron appointed him Health Secretary. He has a nice, reassuring bedside manner and the audiences have liked it.

– – – – – – – – – –

Let me finish by paying tribute to a 16-year-old British Asian lad called Ajay who sent in a question to the Manchester hustings, and which I chose as one of those to ask Johnson.

His question was a challenging one, both to ask and for Johnson to answer. When I called Ajay to ask his question, he stumbled with his words a little. I willed him on.

He explained that he suffered from clinical depression and mental health issues and wanted to know what a Boris Johnson led government would do to help people like him. He used the phrase: “If you are elected…”. Some wag in the audience shouted out: “You mean when…”

That could have easily put Ajay off his stride, but it didn’t – and he completed his question. I really hoped the audience would applaud him, as it must have taken balls of steel to ask that question, especially given his age. The crowd didn’t let me down, and nor did Johnson, who gave a very detailed answer on what he would do to expand mental health services.

– – – – – – – – – –

You’ll have noticed that I’ve been scrupulously balanced in this column, and said positive things about both candidates. I’ll save any negative things for the memoirs! Actually, truth be told, that would be a short paragraph. I’ve actually been impressed by how both of them have done so far. I think the whole process has been handled well by both of them.

In addition, let me conclude (again!) by paying tribute to Brandon Lewis and the CCHQ team who have organised these hustings at very short notice. He leads a highly professional team and I can’t speak highly enough of everyone involved. A job well done, but it’s not finished yet.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: If you’re coming to a hustings I’m chairing, draft an original question – and I’ll try to call you.

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

I’ve just finished reading ConservativeHome’s highly informative and entertaining interview with Boris Johnson. Put together with some of the other interviews he’s done this week, and you start to get the impression that the BoJo MoJo is returning.

I’ve always thought with big personalities like Johnson that things only start to wrong when their handlers try to muzzle them. He is like a big, loveable bear. Try to restrain him, and he becomes all sad and morose.

But give him the opportunity to show what he can do, and he will entertain the crowds and reap the rewards. The simple message is that sometimes you just have to let Boris be Boris, and accept the risks that come with that in terms of messaging.

In the ConHome interview, he reveals that he will expect every cabinet member to sign up to leaving the EU on  October 31st, come what may. It’s not quite the promise Esther McVey made in her short-lived leadership campaign, where she said she wouldn’t have any Remainers at all in her initial cabinet, but it’s quite something to reveal at this stage.

In theory, this might rule out Jeremy Hunt remaining in the cabinet. David Gauke has already said he wouldn’t serve, and it’s highly doubtful whether Amber Rudd or David Lidington could sign up for that. It’s clear that the composition of the next Cabinet will be very different to the current one.

– – – – – – – – – –

Some of you will have been at the Birmingham hustings last Saturday. It proved to be quite an event.

Given the story that dominated the news that day, I had no option but to ask Johnson about it, when it came to the 15 minute interview stage of the proceedings. I had planned my first question, but not what happened afterwards. I believed he might address the so-called elephant in the room during his speech, which I thought would have been the ideal way to deal with it. But that didn’t happen.

Without going into all the details of the exchange, I would genuinely have only spent a minute or two on it had he given any semblance of an answer. It was his prerogative not to, of course – and that’s the option he chose to take.

At the third time of asking some in the audience started booing me, while some others were apparently shouting to him to “answer the question”. My first reaction when I heard the booing was to burst out laughing – but I didn’t. Frankly I had expected some sort of reaction like that, but I was only doing my job.

To CCHQ’s credit, no one tried to influence any of my questioning to either candidate. I totally get that if you’re supporting a candidate you want to protect them and their reputation by any means possible. I certainly wasn’t trying to do anything other than do my job – even though clearly some people thought I was grandstanding.

I didn’t look at Twitter until much later that evening, and it was quite something. A lot of people thought I shouldn’t have even asked one question, let alone five. Well, it’s a point of view I suppose, but we don’t live in a country where journalists are shackled from asking any question they like.

Just think of the fallout – not just for me, but for the party, or indeed Johnson himself – if I hadn’t asked a single question and just talked about Brexit or whatever other subject. It would have been written up as being something that might happen in North Korea. Move along, nothing to see here.

I would have rightly been seen as a complete patsy. No one would have emerged well from it. I totally get that Johnson himself, and his entire campaign team were probably pretty displeased by it, but a few days later, in the cold light of day, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t accept that I did the right thing.

– – – – – – – – – –

Today. I’ll be chairing the hustings in Exeter, then tomorrow it’s Carlisle and Manchester, followed on Tuesday by Belfast – and, next Friday, Gateshead and then next Saturday in Nottingham.

I had thought it would be great to spend so much time with the future Prime Minister of this country.  But I suspect whoever wins will be sick of the sight or me and the sound of my voice by the time we get to the last of the 16 hustings in London on July 17.

The challenge for me is to try to keep things fresh and not cover the same old, same old territory in each hustings. In a sense, I’m relying on the audience to do that, by coming up with some original questions.

I thought both candidates were very revealing when I asked them in Birmingham: “What’s the biggest personal crisis you’ve faced, and what did you learn from it?” We need more questions like that, rather than the hoary old chestnuts of “Will you definitely promise one hundred per cent to leave on October 31st?” or “Will you cancel HS2?” Been there, done that.

So that’s your challenge. If you’re coming to one of the other hustings, please do submit the most original question you can think of. No one from CCHQ interferes in the question selection process – so if it’s a corker, and I think it will elicit interesting answers, I’ll try to call you.

– – – – – – – – –

One other aspect of this week has fascinated me and it’s that people seem to think they know which candidate I favour. Some think it’s clear I support Johnson, others think it’s clear that I support Hunt.

Truth is – I don’t have a vote, and in all honesty I am genuinely undecided who I would vote for. I totally get Johnson’s argument that we must come out on October 31st, and the consequences for the Conservative Party and democracy would be catastrophic if we don’t.

But then again, Hunt’s argument that he’s best placed to negotiate a deal with the EU is also compelling. The truth is that, since I am uncharacteristically on the fence, I’m actually in a good position to give a voice to the ‘undecideds’ in these hustings.

The difference is that they have to come to a conclusion and put their X in a box. I do not.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Damian Flanagan: What drives the Conservatives’ underlying problems? For answers, ponder our exile from the cities of the north.

So why am I even writing about this secretive group of no-hopers? Because they happen to be called “The Conservative Party” – and it currently runs the country. Also, I happen to be one of them, having recently taken over the running of the newly reformed Manchester, Withington Constituency Conservative Association.

The position of the Conservative Party not just in Manchester, but in cities across the North of England is so dire that it is probably beyond the imaginings of people in the rest of the country and certainly seems to be a blind spot for Conservative Campaign Headquarters. There hasn’t been a single Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for over 25 years, and until two years ago, the council was a hundred per cent Labour, with no opposition whatsoever – leading to zero scrutiny of any Council policies.

In the recent local elections,t he Conservatives sunk to a new low in Manchester, attracting just 6.5 per cent of the vote, half that achieved by both the Greens and Liberal Democrats, and barely 1/9th of the 58.8 per cent achieved by Labour.

The opposition to Labour in Manchester now consists of three Liberal Democrat councillors (who recently complained that the council was too “right wing”). There is also not a single Conservative councillor on the councils in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle…

So why should people elsewhere care about this? If Northerners like Labour so much, shouldn’t they just be allowed to get on with it?

You could argue that the local elections were an aberration and that people were venting their frustration with the Brexit stalemate in Westminster, that two unrelated issues – local government and national government – were being conflated.

Yet the crisis over Brexit and the full-scale retreat of the Conservative Party from many cities in the north of England are profoundly connected.

Think back to the last time that the Conservative Party enjoyed thumping majorities of over 100 in the House of Commons and was able to act decisively. You have to go back to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s, a time when the Conservatives still had MPs in urban constituencies in places like Manchester, had a considerable group of representatives on the council there and could appeal to voters in northern cities.

Since being rooted out of those northern cities in the 1990s, the best the Conservatives have been able to hope for are slim majorities in general elections, leaving them highly vulnerable to party divisions over Europe.

Having the vision and doggedness to produce policies that re-engage with the inhabitants of places like Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, Tyneside and Newcastle has seemingly not been in the mindset of anyone in the Conservative Party. That needs to change urgently.

The fact is that the Conservatives have for over 22 years been incapable of ruling without the support first of the Liberal Democrats and now of the Democratic Unionists. Parliament has been paralysed, Brexit frustrated and finally the Conservatives went begging to Labour for agreement with their policies. All these things are intimately connected to the fact that there has not been a Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for 25 years.

Imagine, though, that the Conservatives were to declare their determination to win back these “lost” Northern cities, starting by setting up a permament office in Manchester and sending some of their best people to find out what exactly is going on and to find a solution to the ingrained antipathy to Conservatives. Supposing we were to make it a marquee policy that we will not, as Conservatives, accept the age-old, north-south wealth divide – why should we? There is no reason whatsover why the north should be poor.

Let’s commit ourselves as Conservatives to those neglected northern cities by taking radical measures: offering tax incentives for companies to set up there and moving government departments north – the relocation of sections of the BBC to Salford and the creation of Media City there has been transformational in the economy of that area.

Let’s commit ourselves to the end of failing, inner city northern state schools which trap many children in a cycle of ignorance and poverty for life, and demand that minimal standards are met instead, and that we will closely monitor and put in targetted resources to these areas until that happens.

Imagine if people in the North began to think of the Conservatives not as the “Nasty Party” only concerned with their own interests and support base in the south, but rather as the visionaries who lifted them, once and for all, out of relative poverty and offered unprecedented opportunities, rediscovering the entrepeneurial drive and world-beating heritage of these post-industrial cities.

In Manchester, the populace are constantly told, over and over, that the source of all problems are “Tory cuts”. It is a matter of almost existential, religious belief.

The local governments of such cities as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle – cities which once led the world as centres of invention and industry – tend to focus on a culture of welfare. There is little sense that a spirit of enterprise, self-reliance and sense of public good is required to guarantee a prosperous future: it’s this compassionate and engaged Conservative vision that the North needs to rediscover.

As Conservatives, we need to support and nurture such a vision. But we are not going to manage it as a London-centric organisation that just views the cities of the north as largely unwinnable provincial backwaters.

The Conservative revolution that needs to begin in cities across the North should also transform the Conservatives nationally. The Conservatives cannot be merely a party of the South and the countryside: it must strongly engage with the interests and concerns of England’s northern cities.

Many people think the great irresolvable fault line in British politics lies between Britain and the EU or else on the border of the Irish Republic. But delve further into what exactly is causing the underlying weakness and reliance on coalitions in Conservative governments, and you will see that it is the long Conservative exile from the cities of the North which is a chief cause of what is stopping the UK advancing forward with decisiveness and unity as a nation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Simon Cooke: Who owns England? Not, it would appear, big business after all.

Cllr Simon Cooke is a councillor in Bradford and a professional marketer. He has been leader of Bradford’s Conservative Group, Deputy Leader of the Council and led on regeneration in that city for six years. He blogs at The View from Cullingworth.

Companies own 2.6 million hectares of UK land. One striking fact revealed by Guy Shrubsole in a Guardian article presenting an extract from his book Who Owns England? Equally striking is that this is just 18 per cent of the country – over 80 per cent of England isn’t owned by ‘corporate entities’ but, presumably, by private individuals or the Government. This startling fact doesn’t, of course, stop Shrubsole from launching into a search for scandal.

Take land banking. Every examination of the problem reveals that big housebuilders do not hold large amounts of land purely for speculation. Shelter say that the housebuilders own enough land for six years housing supply, a figure that matches the requirement in the English planning system for local councils to identify a five-year supply of land for housing.

Yes, there is a speculative market in land – but much of this is investors betting on the outcome of the local plan process: buying up parcels of green belt land knowing that, given the massive difference in value between agricultural land and housing land, it only needs a few of these sites to become housing land for the overall investment to succeed. And in the meantime, the land delivers rent from its agricultural use.

This speculation is only made possible by our planning system. In areas dominated by Green Belt, the supply of land for housing is controlled by local councils through their Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and local plan. Shrubsole accuses corporate interests of ‘outgunning’ local councils, but provides no evidence beyond Peel Holdings funding a business lobby a decade ago opposing proposals for a congestion charge in Manchester, something entirely understandable given Peel’s then ownership of the Trafford Centre.

The real picture is that the political pressure on local councils with green belts is actually to release as little land as possible. I’ve been a local councillor for a ward entirely in Bradford’s green belt for 24 years, and opposition to new development is consistently the number one local issue.

Shrubsole wants us to believe that government, local politicians and the public are powerless faced with these corporate behemoths but, in his search for bad boys, he makes mistakes – conflating investments by a pension fund for BAe workers with the activities of the company. It would indeed be weird if an aerospace business owned a pub in Blackpool, but it isn’t at all odd for a pension fund to make this sort of investment: the West Yorkshire Pension Fund, for example, owns 101 Embankment, a large office block in central Manchester, as part of its significant property portfolio.

For me, the significance of Shrubsole’s work isn’t the ‘look at all those secret, tax-avoiding businesses owning land’ but, rather, the picture he provides of how land investment is skewed by the UK’s planning system. Without housing land supply being controlled by the Government, there would be no need for land banking and no speculative markets in green belt agricultural land.

Moreover, we now know that corporate land ownership is mostly purposeful rather than speculative – companies like Peel Group own things (the Manchester Ship Canal, John Lennon Airport, the Port of Liverpool) that are actively managed, income generating assets, and the same goes for the land ownerships of water companies and other utilities.

It is good to see land registry information more readily available, but the picture we get is of a mostly stable land ownership where companies see land assets as working capital rather than speculative investment. It simply isn’t true to say that corporate ownership of land and property is ‘biased towards short-term returns’.  Nor is it the case that the pattern of ownership is the reason for agricultural intensification, the decline of high streets or the lack of housing. Places like Bradford welcome the attention and investment from property businesses: it’s how we get regeneration projects to work, how we get the houses we need for our residents, and how we get the jobs for those people.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com