More homes not the solution

SIR – I was surprised by Mike Hobday s letter (WHT, June 4). His assertion that the case for more homes in Hertfordshire and the south-east is overwhelming just doesn t hold water. Yes, people are living longer, and yes, the family structure of the UK

SIR - I was surprised by Mike Hobday's letter (WHT, June 4). His assertion that the case for more homes in Hertfordshire and the south-east is "overwhelming" just doesn't hold water. Yes, people are living longer, and yes, the family structure of the UK is changing, but this doesn't cause the scale of problem we face in the south of England.

What's caused the problem is more to do with where the jobs are. People move to where they can find work. Large parts of towns and cities around the UK are half empty. Why? There are few decent jobs, fewer good schools and even fewer prospects. Anyone who wants a future, and can leave, does so. They arrive in the south and then need somewhere to live as well as work.

So what is the solution? Rebalance the equation. Make more jobs available where the houses are. Many companies move to the south-east because that's where their contacts and competitors are.

Business costs are virtually the same whether you're located in Hull or Hertfordshire. Rents might be different, but then Hertfordshire is closer to your suppliers and customers. The incentives are skewed to Hertfordshire. A sensible change to how businesses are taxed and charged could change all that. The big question for Mike is why Labour haven't already done this! They've attempted to address deprivation through redistributing council tax, but that has no effect whatsoever on businesses. The idea of allowing local councils to set their own business taxation would mean areas with a lack of jobs could cut taxes to really encourage businesses to relocate there. When you move the employer, you move the people. Get the balance right and everyone gets a better place to live. No more 10,000 new houses.

If we did this now, by 2021 Hertfordshire's current housing stock could be adequate for its needs, and any new developments needed could be done gradually and sustainably without the problems that the recent plan will clearly cause.

Mike also misses the point about infrastructure support for the housing development. Local infrastructure is covered within developers' costs, but wider infrastructure isn't.

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When we get an A1(M) so clogged with traffic it needs widening to three lanes right to Stevenage, it won't be the developers that pay, it'll be the taxpayer. Billions of pounds of road development would be needed, all from our pockets, whilst the developers walk away with multi-million pound profits. When we find there's not enough water because of 10,000 new lawn sprinklers in Hatfield alone, and a water pipeline needs building from North Wales to supply enough water (a distinct possibility, it's feasibility is already being discussed), how much will the developers pay? Nothing.

The costs will hit our water bills. We pay again. To state that 'developers will be forced to pay for the infrastructure required' is naïve in the extreme. Our taxes and bills will all rise because of these housing developments, and to deny otherwise is to deny the nose on your face.

That is why I'm opposed to this development, and why this misguided idea needs to be abandoned. Developers pay a bit, the taxpayer pays a lot, our environment pays the most, and all because this government (and the Conservatives are no better) have simply not understood what causes the problem in the first place.

Paul Zukowskyj, Liberal Democrat prospective Parliamentary candidate.