Planning in the media

While politicians fall over themselves with ever greater claims of public spending cuts, a former member of the Bank of England monetary committee warned of the consequences to the wider economy.

Danny Blanchflower said cuts should be delayed until 2012 as otherwise the country risked creating "a lost generation" of young people born at the wrong time. Writing in the New Statesman, he said: "If large numbers of public sector workers, perhaps as many as million, are made redundant and there are substantial cuts in public spending in 2010, as proposed by the Conservative Party, five million unemployed or more is not inconceivable. Crime will inevitably rise and there will be widespread social unrest if this happens."

The writing may well be on the wall for regional development agencies (RDAs) with both the Tories and Liberal Democrats pledging to scrap them. But Deborah Cadman, "chair of chairs" of the RDA Network and chief executive of the East of England Development Agency, which deals with 52 local authorities, told The Times that she "would actually die in a ditch for the principle of having a strategically delivered regional economic development function". RDAs have a role to play in giving perspective on large infrastructure projects that cross boundaries, she added. "The Conservatives are saying they believe that planning decisions about growth should be made at a local level. On one level that is absolutely right. But you could see difficulties if local authorities take the view that they don't want to take any new house growth or that they are only going to take it if they get the associated infrastructure. If you have 52 local authorities saying that, you have only a limited pot of money, so that potentially would be very difficult to manage."

John Prescott, now special representative for the Council of Europe on climate change, launched a stinging attack on nimbies who protest against wind farms. Speaking on BBC1's Politics Show, he denounced the two-thirds of planning decisions on wind farms that are turned down and offered a solution. "The way to deal with nimbies is to make councils suggest where the wind farms can go. Then you would say: 'Tell us where the space will be and if you refuse to do it we will see it implemented.' When I see nimbies with a banner pressurising councils not to approve wind farms, I hope that children will turn up with another saying: 'It's our future and you can't dismiss it.' You might enjoy the chocolate box picture for a few more years. Just think about the children."

Consumers face a new "shopping tax" for parking spaces provided by supermarkets, department stores and out-of-town malls, according to The Daily Telegraph. The outlets would be charged around £600 per parking space, "raising millions of pounds for councils struggling to cope with increasing demands on their services". The scheme also aims to encourage people to use their cars less and walk or take public transport.

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