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Bulldozer Ruth must be stopped in tracks.

IT didn't take long for Ruth Kelly to grab control of John Prescott's bulldozer in her new job.

Ms Kelly, who made a bit of hash of it at education, is now the Communities and Local Government Secretary, taking over a lot of Prezza's role.

And she could do more damage to this green and pleasant land than anyone since the Blitz.

Social or affordable housing is her top priority. Now no one will argue with the need to give young families and poorly paid key workers a leg-up on the property ladder.

But Ms Kelly's tone will alienate more people than it endears. She has launched an attack on Nimbys, regular householders who are of the "Not In My Back Yard" persuasion.

She automatically assumed that Nimbys are middle class moaners who don't want a thousand affordable houses dumped in their back gardens.

She's wrong. People are not Nimbys because they have abandoned all social responsibilities.

They are Nimbys because they have worked long and hard to have their own homes and want brownfield options explored more before greenfield sites that make our countryside a bit special are dug up.

"I will solve the problem," she says, which means steam-rollering over decades of sensible planning regulations.

I don't think she will. She wants 30,000 more homes built every year, either by housing associations or through various Government agencies.

She wants planning laws to change and wants homeowners who object to a development to "change their thinking".

What planet is she on? Apart from putting mind-bending chemicals in drinking water, how does she intend to do that?

HOW does she answer the nagging thought that the Government will help a favoured few get on the housing ladder in desirable areas?

That would give such people keys to a property that could treble in value in a decade. Would that give them an unfair jackpot, not avail able to those who mortgage themselves to the hilt?

Our environment is not just the four walls of our homes. It's also the nearby park, woodland or open field where we can escape into the fresh air.

Instead of developing a green space, let's target former industrial or commercial areas which with a bit of thought, planning and imagination could become new communities with proper roads and facilities.

Let's plan sensibly, not in a panic - as Ms Kelly did in 2000 when she blocked the building a 600-home estate in her Bolton constituency.

She stopped developers FIVE other times in local planning disputes, according to reports.

She was quoted as saying on one occasion that it was "a victory for people power". Ms Kelly is either a hypocrite or guilty of being bulldozer happy in her new job.


HOMES: Kelly wants to build
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 14, 2006
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