Barwell blanks Shirley meeting to oppose house building

Has Croydon Central’s Tory MP Gavin Barwell given up on Shirley already?

Shirley shome mishtake: Housing Minister Gavin Barwell could be bricking it over house-building

Shirley shome mishtake: Housing Minister Gavin Barwell could be bricking it over house-building

Shirley ward is ear-marked to be shunted out of the Croydon parliamentary constituency and annexed to Beckenham for Westminster election purposes under proposals released earlier this week by the Boundary Commissioners.

It’s all a little awkward for the career Conservative politician.

While Barwell lives in Sanderstead, his own constituency office is located in Shirley, on Wickham Road (handy for the nearby general store, where the MP became known for asking for a receipt for his expenses even on small items of personal spending, such as a packet of crisps. Every little helps…).

And Barwell was quick to jump on the Nimby bandwagon of the Save Shirley campaign, when residents’ groups moved to protect their properties and the essential character of the area against proposals in the Croydon Local Plan, and some ill-researched house-building plans from the council.

As recently as February – that is, before he became a Government Minister for Housing and Planning – Barwell was opposing plans to build more than 120 new homes on Metropolitan Open Land on the World of Gold site and he was demanding that the Labour councillors in another ward in his constituency, Ashburton, “need to explain why it’s wrong to build on green space in their ward, but when the council proposes building on green space in neighbouring Shirley ward… they don’t say a word in protest”.

Six months ago, Gavin Barwell was riding the populist groundswell opposing house building in Shirley. Now, he can't even bother to turn up to residents' meetings

Six months ago, Gavin Barwell was riding the populist groundswell opposing house building in Shirley. Now, he can’t even bother to turn up to residents’ meetings

But this week, six months on and now the custodian of a minister’s red box, Barwell was a no-show at a Shirley residents’ meeting to discuss house building in the area – despite having previously told the organisers that he would attend.

Was it because, having seen the Boundary Commission’s recommendations earlier in the day under embargo, Barwell has decided that there’s no votes in Shirley for him any longer?

Or is it because, since being appointed as Housing Minister in Theresa May’s Conservative Government, associating with a group pledged to block house building might be a tad awkward for the career politician?

Barwell and his tax-funded lackies have in the past been quick to publicise the absence of local Labour councillors from residents’ meetings, even when those meetings have been called at short notice.

But despite having been given a week’s notice of the meeting and indicating that he would attend, Barwell, the self-proclaimed “strong voice for Croydon”, has been silent about missing Monday’s discussions.

His previous support for the populist opposition to back garden development in Shirley and elsewhere is now at odds with his own government department’s position, which suggests that such development is “quite good”.

Barwell’s junior ministerial duties saw him on an official visit to south Wales on Tuesday morning – to give a speech encouraging more house building.

Perhaps having Shirley moved into another constituency won’t be such a bad thing for the opportunist Tory MP, as it could save Barwell any more embarrassing conflicts.

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This entry was posted in Addiscombe and Shirley Park RA, Andrew Rendle, Ashburton, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Environment, Gavin Barwell, Housing, Jo Negrini, Maddie Henson, Planning, Stephen Mann and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Barwell blanks Shirley meeting to oppose house building

  1. derekthrower says:

    A quote about the conviction politics of Gavin Barwell.
    “The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time” — Franklin P. Adams

  2. veeanne2015 says:

    Empty words on the Housing situation are the norm.
    For example Gavin’s ‘moral shame’ on homelessness (Inside Croydon article 5th September), and the Government, including Gavin’s, belief that getting more people on the property ladder is more important than providing more with genuinely affordable homes.

    Forced sale of Housing Association and Council homes will result in FEWER AFFORDABLE HOMES BUILT, as replacement will cost much more, and reduced income, so to maintain viability no doubt, will result in higher rents for existing tenants.

    All those desperate for an decent, affordable home will also resent that those lucky enough to already be living in one should be given a bonanza of tens of thousands of £s.
    Likewise, those who scrimped and saved to get on to the housing ladder and will be paying a mortgage for the rest of their working lives will resent large discounts in mortgages for their new neighbours.

    All this money, which has to come from somewhere, should have been given instead to reputable Housing Associations to acquire more property on a rent/buy basis, resulting in both more affordable homes, and more on the housing ladder.

    So does Gavin still approve this ‘moral shame’ of making a few better off to the financial detriment of many, or will the hypocrisy of ’empty words’ apply to housing situation in general too ?

  3. croydonres says:

    I recently attended a lecture by a top UK geography professor, who showed a graph which showed the number of houses built over the last 50 years.
    It was very clear that the number built by the private sector has been fairly consistent and constant over this time. They bubble along quite nicely, in the process making around 20% profit. I for one don’t grudge them that, as they actually produce something tangible to earn their money.

    What was even more clear was that when Mrs. Thatcher cut off funding to local government, the number of completions dropped by about 40% — and has remained the same ever since.
    Housing associations were regarded as less unacceptable –and they took up some of the slack, but overall the graphs showed silently but eloquently– we owe the current small number of homes being built to a political philosophy that Local Government should be kept in its place.

    Ironic that, considering the outcome for our children.

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