Homelessness Review – Labour’s Response

Fareham Labour Party has submitted a response to Fareham Borough Council’s (FBC) Homelessness Review Consultation.

Commenting on the findings of the review Labour said “We believe that the report underestimates the true extent of homelessness in the Borough. We believe, for example, that many younger residents are transiting between sleeping rough and various temporary arrangements such as sofa-surfing.”

It is crucial that FBC strategy recognises the importance of early intervention to deal with the issue in the immediate hours and days after a resident finds themselves homeless as once someone or a household is homeless for a sustained period it is much more difficult to find solutions for the individual or family.

FBC states that in preventing homelessness strengthened mediation, working with other agencies strengthening planning and provide high quality tenancies.

While agreeing with these approaches Labour is concerned that when family relationships breakdown it may not be in the best interests of the young person that they are returned to the family home without early intervention to ensure they are protected from harm. We agree that it is important to focus interventions on those likely to be at risk of homelessness such as those leaving care or institutions. For people affected by reforms to welfare services stronger action is needed beyond the access to advice.

In providing solutions FBC says their target is to improve access to the private rented sector, improve the offer to private landlords, provide good quality temporary accommodation and ensure bed and breakfast is the last resort.

We agree that bed and breakfast should be the last resort. The importance of affordable social housing, whether directly FBC or through a housing association should be a priority with measures to ensure a supply of private rented sector properties at affordable rent and secure tenancy a less favourable option.

FBC states in meeting demand that the focus is on advice .information and staff capacity.

We believe this is inadequate, as it is all about information, advice is only useful if it leads to a positive outcome. For the strategy to be affective, it must focus on the availability of supply of appropriate accommodation – both immediately available and for the longer term along with the provision of support to people to enable a successful transition from homelessness to being housed.

FBC says ending rough sleeping should be by ensuring effective outreach services, explore creating additional emergency beds, continue to expand supported accommodation.

We agree with these objectives.

FBC’s delivery plan rests on monitoring internal systems. 

To help the council monitor the delivery plan we would urge FBC involve those agencies which provide accommodation for homeless people such as housing associations or organisations, for example Two Saints a local group.  

Labour to object to housing at Newgate Lane

Fareham Labour Party will submit objections to planning appeals which would risk the strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport. Three planning proposals would mean 289 houses being built on greenfield sites in the Newgate Lane area. The applications are for: Bargate Homes 99 houses north of Brookers Lane footpath and 115 houses north of Woodcote Lane footpath, Fareham Land proposes 75 houses in the area.

The appeals come as Tory controlled Fareham Borough Council failed to determine the applications in time leaving one of the developers to appeal regarding the non-determination of the 99 housing site. This leaves all three plans now being decided by a government inspector.

Labour spokesperson Richard Ryan said “Frankly the abject failure of the Tory controlled council to not decide these plans on time has put these greenfield sites and the strategic gap in real danger. By their incompetence the decision has been taken out of local hands and given to an inspector who will not know the area as well as local people. These developments would mean more loss of our precious greenfields”

Fareham Labour is on record as saying that Welborne should supply most of the housing development within the Borough with brownfield sites meeting any additional requirements.

Labour object to reduction in affordable housing at Welborne

Fareham Labour Party has submitted an objection to plans that would see a reduction in affordable housing at the Welborne development. Labour said:
“Fareham Labour Party object to the proposed revisions to the Welborne planning application. Affordable housing numbers are in danger of being drastically cut and we do not view this proposal as acceptable. The proposed change in funding to the redesign of the M27 J10 motorway junction negotiated by the developer and Fareham Borough Council would not have been necessary should the undue delays in the process caused Solent LEP funding to lapse. Whilst the modifications to the motorway junction are a necessary pre-requisite for the development to proceed without causing a significant adverse effect on traffic within Fareham, this redesign should not be funded by the developer to the detriment of affordable housing and we call on Fareham Borough to pursue alternative funding mechanisms for the highways changes needed.” 

Fareham Labour Party response to local plan consultation

Fareham Labour has submitted a response to Fareham Borough Council’s consultation on the revised Fareham Local Plan.

Labour said we welcome the fact that the revised local plan reduces the number of houses to be built on greenfield sites as we believe that the bulk of the housing needs for Fareham should be accommodated through a combination of the Welborne development and through the use of brownfield sites elsewhere in the borough. We welcome the removal of sites in Portchester and Wallington and preservation of the strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport. We remain concerned at the level of development proposed for the Western Wards. We are disappointed that greenfield sites remain under threat. We support prioritising brownfield sites, including building higher density housing in existing town centres. 

We do not agree that the provision for affordable homes in the plan is adequate. We question whether this plan is accounting for growth in demand over this period or even seeking to maintain a bare minimum in providing good living conditions for local families. We see town centres as one area that can provide much needed affordable housing.

Fareham Borough Council should not ignore the fact that many especially young people need affordable housing. The council should identify further brownfield sites for development.

The Fareham local plan should include a new railway station on the Western edge of the Welborne development, this is relevant for the whole of Fareham, not just for Welborne. Residents in existing housing in North Fareham would be able to use this new station at Welborne including by walking and cycling. The provision of such a railway station is essential to take sufficient traffic off the roads in Fareham to avoid severe traffic congestion. A bus service will not achieve the necessary modal shift to public transport. If people can walk to and from the railway station in Welborne and only have to buy a rail ticket they will take the train. If people have to spend time and money travelling by bus to Fareham Railway Station to take the train they will drive and we shall have severe road traffic congestion in Fareham. 

Action demanded as three stores announce closure

Portchester Branch Labour Party has demanded action from Fareham Borough Council after the announcements that three key shops in Portchester will be closing.

The Co-op supermarket, Lloyds Bank and McColl’s are all set to close this year. Branch Chair Richard Ryan said “This is devastating news for Portchester. By August we will not have a supermarket, a bank or post office/convenience store in our shopping centre. These closures mean people will not even be able to get cash as all the three ATMs will go.

I’ve written to Cllr Woodward calling for immediate action from the council to stop this huge loss of service in our village.”

Fareham Labour Party urges more affordable housing provision

Fareham Labour Party has pressed for more affordable housing in the Borough. In a submission to Fareham Council’s recent affordable housing consultation Labour said,  “Given the proposals highlight the need for 1000 families who need housing, we feel the building of 3500 affordable homes over the next 17 years is totally inadequate. We question whether this plan is accounting for growth in demand over this period or even seeking to maintain a bare minimum in providing good living conditions for local families.”

We were disappointed that the council seems to be stepping away from it’s earlier commitment, made in the Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document 2005, where it defined affordable as being mortgage payments which amount to no more than three times that of a households earnings.

The consultation stated that notwithstanding the 1000 families currently on the housing waiting list another 3000 families needed affordable housing. Both these figures show that there is a need for more housing than the 3500 proposed in the consultation.

Fareham Labour is also concerned that sheltered accommodation, often designed with older people in mind, is included in the Council’s definition of affordable housing. We believe that whilst the affordability of sheltered housing provision is important, that it should be placed in a separate category as it performs a special job.  By including both types of housing the Council’s affordable housing category it is ‘hiding’ less provision for families than the headline figure suggests.

What we need in Fareham is enough housing to cover the many thousands of people in desperate need of good housing. These proposals fall far short of what should be happening to help local families.

Fareham Labour Party Chair, Matthew Randall said:

‘Almost 70 years after the UK adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which amongst it’s values declares in article 25 the right to housing, it is a sad fact that we still struggle to house the most vulnerable in our society.

Without a serious effort to tackle the issue of affordable housing in Fareham, how can we expect families to put down roots, our local economy to flourish, and to create a sustainable community for all in Fareham and the wider area.’

Labour join climate march

Fareham Labour members joined the climate strike march in Fareham on Friday as part of the global day of action.

Women’s Officer Julie Kidby who attended said, “It was fantastic to see Fareham residents turn out to make their voices heard. Just like the 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started all this in Sweden just over a year ago, Fareham’s strike was organised by a 16 year old girl too and I extend my congratulations and thanks to her for doing a great job.

It is now down to those in office in our government and councils to take fast, significant and long term action to help save our planet and environment. There are many things that need to be done, but in particular Fareham borough is a heavily car-dependent area due to insufficient and expensive local public transport – this must be a priority area for improvement to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

While outside the Civic Offices the climate strikers were handed the following statement from Cllr Seán Woodward:

“I am aware that many councils have declared a climate emergency but not necessarily backed up their announcement with a detailed plan of action. That won’t be our approach. What we will be doing in Fareham, and I will be announcing this at a Meeting of the Executive on Thursday 26 September, is to set up a working group that will identify what further actions we can take to mitigate climate change in Fareham and reduce our carbon footprint.

“One of the Council’s six corporate priorities is to ‘Protect and Enhance the Environment’; an important part of this is to minimise the impact on the environment by reducing our use of natural resources; minimising the generation of waste and maximising the collection of recyclable materials.

“Last year we launched our ‘Give Plastics the Push’ campaign, which is about reducing how much Single Use Plastic (SUP) we use. This initiative was led by Cllr Simon Martin who has the Executive Portfolio for Streetscene and is proving extremely successful. I will therefore be calling on him to help drive this new project forwards for us and to develop a bespoke action plan for Fareham.”

At Fareham Labour we look forward to hearing what plans and actions the new Council working group will put forward.

Labour condemns Tory Plans for Fareham.

Labour has condemned Tory controlled Fareham Council’s plans to build on green spaces and bolster the economy. In a submission to the Borough Council’s Local Plan consultation Fareham Labour Party has said that the proposed loss of land would be devastating and the economic plans were weak.

The council proposes to release land which only a few years ago they said would be protected by the Welborne development. Now in the latest plans most of these areas are designated for building. Fareham Labour has consistently been on record as saying the Welborne should supply most of the housing development with brownfield sites taking up any additional requirements.

In the submission we said: ‘We would support the prioritising of brownfield sites in the local area, especially those suggested in this consolation ( which includes building higher density developments in existing town centres).  We object to the current proposals seeks to designate areas of green space that were previously protected by development on the Welborne site.’

The council’s proposals to bolster Fareham Town Centre, Portchester and Locks Heath are weak. They haven’t even mentioned Stubbington in the plans. Labour has proposed  encouraging  independent retailers to build a thriving local economy. We believe this strategy would put money back into the local area, which otherwise might be drawn out by national retailers. Where possible we would like to see the building of additional affordable properties in these areas, to bring life back to the high street.

Matthew Randall, Chair of Fareham Labour Party said  “The response from Conservative majority run council in Fareham would be comical if it wasn’t playing with lives of present and future residents of the borough. Trying to shift the blame for the failure of the local plan from a Conservative run council to a Conservative run government is beyond farce. Whether it’s a failure to draft a housing plan at the local level, or the formation of an unrepresentative cabinet to oversee vital Brexit negotiations, there is only one Conservative party. Such tactics, treating residence of the area as fools, only serve to highlight that the Conservatives in Fareham take local people for granted.”  

Our full submission can be seen on Fareham Borough Council’s website.

Plans for 125 houses on greenfield site condemned

Fareham Labour Party has condemned the plan to build 125 houses on a greenfield site at Newgate Lane East.

Labour spokesperson Richard Ryan said “We all agree that we need more housing but this site threatens the green gap between Fareham and Gosport and will add to the already congested roads. The Labour Party is on record as saying that major new housing developments should be built either on brownfield sites or at Welborne. If this plan is approved by Fareham Council it will again show the Tory controlled council cares little about our environment.”

Labour’s response to the application says:

Fareham Labour Party wish to object to this planning application. This proposal threatens the strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport. It will increase the number of vehicle movements which will add to the already congested roads leading to and from Gosport. Traffic movement from the proposed site heading north along Newgate Lane will affect the A32 which is already causing concern about the high levels of pollution.

This site is not designated for development in either the Fareham Draft Local Plan or the Fareham Borough Core Strategy 2011.

We believe that further major development in the Borough should be at Welborne or on brownfield sites. This development goes against the Borough’s existing policies and against the whole concept of Welborne as the major development area in Fareham.   

Labour welcomes Downend decision

Fareham Labour Party’s Portchester Branch has welcomed the decision by Fareham Borough Council to refuse Miller Homes permission to build 350 houses at Downend.

The plans submitted by the developer would have seen the destruction of open fields between Downend Road and Portchester Crematorium.

Portchester Branch Chair Richard Ryan said “We are very pleased that this plan has been refused. Labour campaigned against this plan as we were concerned about the number of houses being proposed and the effect it would have on the infrastructure and traffic congestion in the area. We have fought against this and other plans which are slowly but surely taking away our last pieces of green open space in Portchester. Labour will continue to oppose unnecessary building in and around our village.

This is not the end of the threat as the developer could appeal against the Council’s decision. If this happens the Labour Party will oppose any attempt to overturn the refusal.”