Just 24 hours left for inner-city council chiefs to come clean and admit that the effect of their local planning policies has been to cause inner city decay, and that this is not the fault of EU regulation.
To draw the conclusion that these local policies have created a class of dispossessed, with little access to “stepping stone” jobs, who experience the prospect of the cushion of welfare being systematically reduced and local services stretched by unplanned immigration.
To accept that this dispossessed class has looked for reasons behind its declining living standards and made a connection between their lower quality of life and the EU’s trading and freedom of movement rules.
To confess to being “intensely relaxed” about regions of poverty and lack of opportunity emerging in the inner city, because these regions are associated by politicians with shoring up a pre-booked vote for the left at local and national level for these wards and constituencies.
To confess that many local library closures are really the result of a loss of footfall, as surrounding local shops have been lost, making these areas less appealing as destinations and making these libraries appear “less popular” when reviewing funding of local services.
To accept responsibility for the lower quality of life which has made so many low-income workers desperate for some kind of significant change, and therefore inclined to vote Brexit.
To pledge fundamental policy change, promising to encourage and protect local businesses and employment by:
- increasing the cost for resident parking permits
- reducing the number of resident permits available and introducing needs-testing to qualify for these permits
- ensuring there is enough free short stay parking in side streets to equate to one space for every high street business
- issue a moratorium on all shop-to-residential conversions for two years until these changes had have a chance to take effect
- forcing all commercial landlords to advertise their premises for at least 6 months on their local council website before applying for conversion to residential or other change of use
- forcing disclosure of all offers received for properties advertised
- issuing compulsory purchase notices where landlords refuse to advertise or tenant empty commercial premises, to discourage “hanging on” for a conversion-to-residential bonanza
- conducting regular resident surveys to test whether there is demand for better quality or a wider range of local goods, services or jobs
- if the answer to (8) is “yes”, compel local landlords to let their empty properties for the highest offer, even if this offer is £1 per month, on pain of compulsory purchase
- replacing the strategy of commuter-based food and drink local economies with one where the council actively encourages businesses in all sectors to locate in the inner city, and explores ways for a support economy to evolve in the inner city which supplies services directly to professional services firms in the centre, other than sandwich deliveries
The promise of fundamental economic change within our sovereign powers inside the EU, and the delivery of the pound of flesh demanded by a dispossessed class, would replace the urge to use the Referendum to “send a message” which would not otherwise be heard.
This act of contrition and pledge for change by council chiefs would surely confirm a Remain vote beyond doubt.