Monthly Archives: November 2016

Community Land Trusts

There are signs of a growing interest in initiatives long advocated by the New Economics Foundation: local currencies, housing co-operatives and credit unions. See footnote with links.

As more people feel the impact of the housing crisis some are solving their own housing problems. Martina Lees reports:

  • there are about 169,000 co-operatives that let tenants democratically control their homes,
  • more than 100 self-help housing projects are bringing empty homes back into use,
  • over 50 cohousing groups of private homes that share facilities
  • and 170 Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in England and Wales

The latest news noted relates to CLTs, half of which have been set up in the past two years. Together they have built almost 700 affordable homes, with another 2,300 on the way by 2020.

clt-wessex-passivhaus

Christow CLT: passivhaus buildings (more here)

Though all these initiatives are on a small scale at present, the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) is working to make community-led housing mainstream. Two examples:

Lavenham’s CLT bought a derelict storage depot for £1 from Suffolk County Council, which is granting planning on the condition that all 18 homes are for low rent or shared ownership.

clt-cornwall

Above: a development by one of several CLTs set up in Cornwall which has seen its young people leaving because of lack of affordable housing. In Rock, St Minver CLT paid a local farmer only £120,000 for the land where it built its first 12 homes – all sold at 31.3% of market rates to help younger people stay in an area where holiday homes have caused prices to soar. Cornwall council would not have given permission for the farmer to sell on the open market.

At the University of Salford, working with Community Finance Solutions, Pat Conaty – formerly of this parish – has been developing a national Community Land Trusts training programme that has been running courses since March 2011 for new groups and local authorities.

He believes that Community Land Trusts offer a community led ‘bottom-up’ approach to housing issues and creative, ecological developments.

Those who want to learn more should follow these links:

*

FOOTNOTE:

Housing co-ops:

https://concernedcooperators.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/grassroots-co-operatives-come-to-the-fo

http://www.radicalroutes.org.uk/

https://concernedcooperators.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/400/

Google reveals more in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Coventry, Edinburgh

Local currencies

https://brixtonpound.org/

http://www.totnespound.org/

http://www.exeterpound.org.uk/

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/stroud-pound.asp

Latest credit union

https://antidotecounteragent.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/tynedale-community-bank-is-launched/

Community land trusts – see links above

 

 

 

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Brexit: the urgent questions we face:

A member recently emailed to say that she is ‘hoping for a look at the economic consequences of Brexit at WMNEG and what we should be arguing as key for any final deal’. Here is NEF’s recent mailing, which offers four questions.

nef-video

To view, click here.

Marc Stears, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation, spoke at the Foundation’s relaunch event which took place at Coin Street Neighbourhood Community Centre on Tuesday 11 October 2016. He made three points:

  • This is a moment of urgent need
  • Old mechanisms for change don’t work any more.
  • Primary mechanism for change: making connections with those rooted in their communities.

From a recent mailing:

The New Economics Foundation exists to build a new economy where people really take control of their lives.

We have witnessed a huge step towards real control over Brexit. The Government wanted to design its plan in secret, but the High Court has ruled that the process must be brought out into the open and debated in Parliament.

This is a stunning and welcome development. But the control of Brexit must not end with our politicians.

We now need an open and honest debate about the future of our country and the urgent questions we face:

  • What should our place be in relation to the single market?
  • What is the future of free movement of people?
  • How can we maintain the environmental and social protections that membership of the EU has given us for so long?
  • And, perhaps most importantly of all, how can we bring people together again when they have been so deeply divided by all of these issues and more.

Just over three weeks NEF’s new agenda for change was launched. Community workers, campaigners, trade unionists and politicians from all the major parties came together to show how we can give people the tools they need to take real control of these important national debates.

These questions must not be resolved behind closed doors, either in Number 10 or in the Houses of Parliament themselves. They must be resolved in the country, with a clear sense of the options and vibrant public discussion.

 

 

 

 

SKILLS AND THE ECONOMY: Alan Clawley

Professor Hatcher’s presentation to the West Midlands New Economics Group (27 October at Friends of the Earth) was a critique of the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – its structure, its analysis and its programme for economic growth.

The absence of democratic accountability was an easy target. No-one had a good word to say about that. It will not even be up to the minimum level of the 25-member directly-elected Greater London Assembly that holds the London Mayor to account. Besides which there is and has always been no evidence of a ground swell of support for an extra layer of regional government.

The report produced by the WMCA failed to show in the Professor’s opinion, that there was a serious skills deficit holding the region back. Evidence from employers indicated that most of their employees are under-employed and are over-qualified for the job. [This should not be surprising given the huge expansion in higher education]. However Prof Hatcher did not define ‘skills’ or expand on the difference between ‘skills’ and ‘qualifications’. To my mind employers have always complained that young people emerging from school, and now from university, were not ready for the world of work. How could they be? Every workplace has its own culture and working practices. Practical skills are invariably learnt on the job.

So what are the businessmen who dominate the WMCA, complaining about? They have put aside a minute budget for ‘improving schools’ (or skills) that looks purely tokenistic. It’s as if they are saying what they are expected to say. Prof Hatcher let us to draw our own conclusions.

I see business people taking over schools and other learning facilities with the support of a government that believes business people know how to run them better than teachers, academics or librarians. Schools have always been infiltrated by ideologues, fundamentalists and propagandists of one sort or another [perhaps the British public was horrified by the Trojan Horse affair because the majority of them are not muslims].

Business people seem to believe that if they can control the education system they can promulgate the gospel of enterprise and private profit. I think this is no more worthy than promulgating a fundamentalist minority religion. Business people take it for granted that they have the support of the majority of the British people for doing this but we have never had a referendum on the question and it is certain that the nation would be equally divided on the issue.

What was clear to me at the end of the meeting is that we cannot rely on the WMCA to take account of the views of people who are not wholeheartedly pro-business. Going by their pronouncements so far there is not much chance of that.

 

Alan Clawley 1 November 2016

(More on this presentation here: https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/richard-hatcher-1-could-coordinated-planning-by-a-modified-wmca-be-in-the-public-interest/)