Independence Index

Your in-depth guide to Welsh independence.

Assembly

The latest news, debates and reports from the Senedd. (Fourth Assembly stories are under 'Archive').

Bridgend

The major local political stories and developments from Bridgend county.

Laws

We gave AMs law-making powers; this is what's being done with them.

Committee Inquiries

Detailed scrutiny of how Wales is being run. (Fourth Assembly inquiries are under 'Archive').

Vice Nation: Sex

How could an independent Wales deal with issues surrounding sex?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Senedd Watch - June 2011

  • The Welsh Government declined to "bail out" a struggling care home provider. Southern Cross, which runs 34 homes in Wales, looked to reduce rent bills across the UK after a £311million half-year loss. The Welsh Government said there needed to be a "commercial solution to a commercial problem."
  • Capital expenditure forecasts for 2011-12 showed that Welsh Police Authorities are reporting a 35% decrease in their capital budgets to £39million. Overall, there's a 2% decrease in capital spending by local authorities to just over £1.06billion, which include local councils, national parks, police and fire authorities.
  • Office of National Statistics data showed that 1.3% of Welsh households have nobody who has ever worked - the lowest rate of all the home nations. England had 1.7%, Scotland 1.9% and Northern Ireland 2.1%.
  • Huw Jones was appointed S4C chair by UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He was previously chief executive of S4C between 1994 and 2005.
  • Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. West & South Pembs.), said that finding the cause of an explosion at the Chevron Oil Refinery in Pembroke Dock was "crucial" and that she was "very uncomfortable" with some of the rumours about the incident. 4 people were killed in the explosion, with a fifth person in a critical but stable condition.
  • The Queen officially opened the 4th National Assembly of Wales on June 7th, saying that the institution had "coped admirably" with the growth in its powers. Carwyn Jones said his government would work "night and day" to improve public services and make Wales "healthier and more prosperous".
  • Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones has been criticised for not attending the opening of the 4th Assembly due to a pre-planned holiday. He responded by saying that he "put his family first".
  • Figures obtained by BBC Wales, show that hospitals in Wales are becoming routinely overcrowded, leading to concerns about patient safety and cancelled operations. At some hospitals - such as University Hospital, Cardiff - the bed occupancy rate was 93%, while the Royal College of Surgeons suggests a maximum occupancy rate of 82%.
  • A former Lib Dem AM, Elenor Burnham, described leader Kirsty Williams' handling of the disqualification of two list AMs as a "shambles" and that it "looks like a farce". On June 23rd it was announced that they would not face criminal charges.
  • The First Minister refused to say whether a planned badger cull will go ahead. The previous Welsh Government pledged to carry out a cull, that was subsequently put on hold. Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Alun Davies (Lab, Blaenau Gwent) is a supporter of a cull. On June 21st the cull was put on hold, pending an independent review of the science.
  • The Welsh Government temporarily reopened the ProAct scheme to companies affected by the Tohoku earthquake, which  disrupted production in Japan. £4million has been made available.
  • Unemployment in Wales fell by 9,000 in the three months to April, to stand at 7.9%, slightly above the UK average of 7.7%. There was also a fall of 10,000 in the number of people categorised as economically inactive.
  • The value of exports from Wales rose sharply by 30% in the first quarter of 2011 to £3.18billion. During the 12 month period, Wales experienced the largest increase in exports of all the nations and regions of the UK.
  • The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) rejected plans by Welsh universities to charge the maximum £9000 a year tuition fees, because they failed to meet certain requirements such as equal access and improving student experience.
  • The Welsh Government announced that in future, planning guidelines for wind farms will be regarded as an "upper limit". This comes in response to a protest by Montgomeryshire residents against wind farms in their area. Carwyn Jones also called for the devolution of large energy projects to the Welsh Assembly. The UK Government has denied that there were any moves to devolve the powers, a situation described as a "slap in the face for Wales".
  • Plaid Cymru have appointed former Welsh Government special advisor Rhuanedd Richards as their new chief executive. She said that Plaid needed to "broaden its appeal" but that there was "no sense of crisis" in the party.
  • Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales)  said that the "stigma" of receiving free schools meals should be ended by a system of cashless payments.
  • From the end of this month, all payments over £25,000 will be listed on a monthly basis by the Welsh Government. The First Minister said "we are constantly looking to publish information that is of most use to the people of Wales to whom we are accountable".
  • A new National Literacy & Numeracy Framework for 5-14 year old was announced by Education Minister Leighton Andrews (Lab, Rhondda). It will help inform teachers of how to apply literacy and numeracy across the curriculum and monitor pupil progress. It is due to be rolled out across Wales by 2013.
  • ONS mid-year population estimates for Wales in 2010 show that the resident population crossed the 3million mark for the first time to stand at 3,006,400.
  • Projects announced this month include £21.5million to reduce orthopaedic waiting times, the £150million Gilwern-Brynmawr phase of A465 duelling (due to start in 2014), the granting of a licence for a £1billion gas-fired power station in Pembrokeshire and a £36million reorganisation of primary schools in Powys.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bridgend planning committee "approves" Island Farm scheme

Following up from my last post on this issue, Bridgend Council planning committee voted by 11 votes to 7 yesterday to refer the proposed sports village at Island Farm to full council.

This doesn't mean that it's got the green light yet, but it is a big step forward.

I doubt the full council will vote against the wishes/recommendations of the planning committee. If the council approves it on July 4th, the plans will then go to the Welsh Assembly for a final rubber stamp. Only then will we know if this is actually going to happen.

I support the development and I support the developers. HD Limited are involved in several projects in Bridgend town centre at the moment - including Elder Yard - which border on civic philanthropy. I doubt many of these projects would've got off the ground if they hadn't have stepped forward.

My support for this scheme though, is more based on "heart" than head.

Bridgend has had its guts ripped out over the last decade. The town centre has a depressingly limited retail choice that leaves it trailing against many other similar sized towns in Wales. We've had car-centric developments that are welcome economically, but are soulless and sterile. We've lost our professional sporting teams, we've lost a lot of jobs down the years as well. Added to this, we've had to endure some pretty disgusting stuff in the (UK) national press due to the cluster suicides.

If there's one thing Bridgend can claim to be, it's quite an active, relatively youthful, sporting town. We might not have turned out to support our local teams as much as we should have in recent years but the people of Bridgend certainly like to play sport. I can think of more than a dozen rugby teams in a 5 mile radius of Bridgend town and probably as many football teams, golf courses as well.

I don't really care too much about the stadium itself - whether the town needs a 15,000-seater stadium or not is largely moot. The more important development is the legacy it could leave in terms of facilities for the next generation of athletes. Bridgend is Wales' sporting conveyor belt and I doubt there are many places that have churned out as many top-class athletes - per head - as Bridgend has.

Not only is a world-class tennis centre on the cards, but a boxing gym, extra sport pitches, indoor training facilities in addition to the science park extension and more open space.

The viability of the proposal is for the developers to worry about. HD Ltd will need to answer some pertinent questions about how all this is going to be financed and sustained. Like it or not, Crusaders have made their bed in Wrexham and I don't see them coming back. Likewise a 5th Pro12 Welsh region is unlikely unless it is completely privately financed and we know what happened the last time....

At the very least it's good that for once Bridgend, instead of asking "why?" Is asking "why not?"

Thursday, 23 June 2011

UK Government puts Charley to sleep

Mwrarawrwrararww
"Charley says his P45 is in the post"
The Central Office of Information (COI) is to close next year, with the loss of up to 400 jobs.

In the grand scheme of things, I guess such a move can be expected as it's low-hanging fruit for spending cuts. But believe it or not, this brings to close a long relationship between government and the public. A relationship that most of us don't know is there but certainly remember.

What I'm referring to of course, are public information films.

"Nanny state" to some. Life savers to others.

How many lives have been saved by Charley the cat's "advice" down the years? Or the Green Cross Code man? Perhaps Donald Pleasance's most important career role was to warn children to stay away from stagnant bodies of water.

Modern public information films are a far more polished, expensive and audience-savvy exercise and I doubt they will disappear all together. However, in a climate where attacking the "big state" is a popular thing to do - and sometimes the right thing - we should remember that even though it's not very glamorous sounding, the COI might've helped us all at some point.

Whether it's taking extra care with chip pans, or making sure you don't accidentally on purpose get hit by a train. It was comforting to know that the state actually cared enough about you to warn you of these things - even if it came across as incessant nagging.

I don't think anyone will believe me when I say we owe the COI a debt of gratitude, but younger versions of ourselves probably do.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

NIMBYs - Holding Wales back?

First things first. We're all NIMBYs at heart. The only thing that differs is how we approach and argue against developments.

Take for example, a theoretical "second Tryweryn" somewhere in a remote part of Wales.

As a civic nationalist, I would oppose it from the standpoint of Wales taking an unfair burden of undesirable development to suit the needs of a distant, foreign government over which we have no sway.

Environmentalists, nearby residents, the "good-lifers" and all the other assorted groups will no doubt come up with other reasons. There would probably be people who support it as well. Those people supporting it could also be NIMBYs. Well they wouldn't want it near them would they?

Does this attitude hold Wales back, economically and socially? Should planning be approached in an entirely utilitarian view, or should other factors take priority, such as sustainability?

Do local communities, contrary to popular belief, have far too much sway over the planning system?

Here's my (tongue-in-cheek) guide to Welsh Nimbyism:

1. Those opposed to all development
AKA – "BANANA" (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)

Miserable gits one and all. Found in urban areas, but seem to be particularly prominent in the Cardiff and south Wales Valley areas.

Admiral Group, one of Wales' private sector success stories, recently won planning permission for a new HQ for 3,000 people. The Western Mail comments section was immediately set upon by people who though this was, somehow, "bad news."

Any planning decision that doesn't have "rejected" stamped all over it "tramples on the wishes of the silent majority". Why cairn't Kairdeff be likes the good old days?

They'll be quite happy for large swathes of post-industrial Wales to resemble a Smiths album cover, as long as it doesn't interrupt their pint of Daiiirk over a copy of the Echo.

2. Drawbridge Mentality
AKA "Good-lifers"

They're middle class and probably retired. They move to Wales' quieter parts, with "quaint" names they can't really pronounce and not a dark-haired person in sight.

What's that? You were expecting that open countryside with livestock, farm equipment, silage storage and maintained woodland to remain like that until just after you sell your cottage on the market and move to the south of France?

Tough titty. Here come the wind turbines, slapping Wales quite hard in the face. Not satisfied with getting tea-bagged by the Chuckle Brothers in Westminster?

To the Senedd!

Wait. Didn't you say the Welsh Assembly was useless? And that you voted "no" in March?

3. Build it - just not near me....

AKA – "PIBBY" (Put In Black's Back Yard)


This species reside in Wales' leafier suburbs....oh for example.....North Cardiff and the commuter belt villages along the M4 and A55.

They support building homeless hostels (they need somewhere to go), new housing developments (my kids are priced out) or new supermarkets (more jobs for the unemployed). Just not around here. It's not "that sort of area".

It's about twitching curtains and twitchier sphincters as they realise their home equity is going to be affected by the proposed drug rehabilitation centre down the road. They'll make sure that the councillors know that they won't have their vote next time.

4. Organised Opposition

AKA "Citizens Against Virtually Anything"

Retirement getting you down? Feeling a bit lonely? Bored?

Break out the placards and photo shopped images! They've been "fighting for the community" for nigh on two score and twain. There'll be no skate park for teenagers on their watch! No new superstore while the "town" dies on it's feet.

Hyperbole is the name of the game. Everything is a disgrace. Everything will have a "catastrophic" impact on the "community". The community consisting of people they know and their dogs. They'll protest, they'll march, they'll be photographed handing over petitions.

Then, when that new supermarket is built, they'll be shopping there with everyone else and tutting about how it's ruined the town centre....as they pile the trolley with some reasonably priced organic lasagna.

5. The "Enlightened" Objectors

They just know more than you do. This development is about a much bigger issue. It's about global capitalism running roughshod over the proletariat - and there will be some obtuse reference to a socialist pamphlet of which only 50 copies were printed. Civic Trusts, environmental groups, the Welsh language intelligentsia and socialist sects fall into this category.

Long editorials in the national papers, using nice big words. The detail is certainly there but ultimately sending the same message.

"Don't build it near me, guv."

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Island Farm Sports Village "recommended for approval"

It's one of the largest, ambitious, contentious and long running development proposals in Bridgend County history, but it does seem that at long last, the Island Farm saga is coming to an end.

The original outline application for a "Sports Village" at the site was made in December 2008, and previously there was a plan for a WRU Academy and houses - as well as the long-term ambition of an extension to Bridgend Science Park. The planning application itself runs into hundreds of documents.

There has been a consistent fight against development at Island Farm by locals for the best part of a decade, and this application was no different. A petition/pro forma was signed by pushing 1000 people - though only 711 of them were from Bridgend County and even fewer were from areas adjacent to Island Farm itself.

However, Bridgend planning officers are giving the scheme a thumbs-up with no fewer than 39 conditions:
"The application is recommended for approval as the substantial number of benefits, that can be attributed to the proposal, largely outweighs any land-use policy conflicts and the mitigation and planning requirements, identified in relation to each of the planning considerations, can be secured through planning conditions and a Section 106 obligation and satisfied all other relative material considerations."

In English : There's no reason to turn it down as long as the developers meet the conditions.

The decision date has been pushed back several times in the last few months. Next Friday (24th June) Bridgend Councillors will decide whether the development, by local company HD Limited, will be given the final go ahead.

I'll post my own, more detailed thoughts on the scheme when we have a final answer from BCBC next week.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Is that it!? - Labour's legislative programme aims low

I've always believed - to a certain extent - in the mantra "aim low and you'll never be disappointed". Some might say this is pessimistic, others might say realistic. When governments do this though, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Considering the high turnover in AMs, it's perfectly sensible to slow down the pace of the Assembly in the first few months when it comes to legislation. The Assembly shouldn't rush into making laws for the sake of it, Geraint Talfan Davies explores that in more detail here.

However, when looking at Labour's legislative proposals, one thing stands out and is becoming depressingly familiar - a complete lack of ambition.
  • Two proposed Bills could easily be described as "tidying up" previous measures: Children's Rights and Social Care Regulations.
  • One is important, but should've been largely unnecessary : the Education Bill. A funding body for Higher Education already exists!
  • Four proposed bills are structural changes and about "efficiency". These could just as easily be dealt with through policy delivery and don't need to be on the statute book. This includes the Cycling Bill and Heritage Protection Bill.
  • Three are what I would personally consider "proper" laws, including the Sustainable Development Bill, (long overdue) changes to planning laws and the Organ Donation Bill.

Please excuse me while I try to contain my excitement.

One of the valid criticisms of the Assembly and Welsh Government since devolution is an obsession with procedure, managerialism and micro-management. I don't want to see this creep into our laws. I'd rather have five good bills than ten mediocre ones.

I hope the opposition parties push hard to ensure these "tinkering, tidying up and efficiency bills" are given a lot more meat.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Republic of Wales/Gweriniaeth Cymru - Exploring the options

Following on from my last post, I think it's worth brainstorming potential future republican options for Wales in a bit more depth.

Referendum or declaration?

Australia held a referendum in 1999 on amending their constitution to become a republic, and a republic was rejected by just under 55% of those who voted. The Australian proposal was a president elected by a two-thirds majority of Parliament 0 not in a separate general election. Whether that had any impact on the result I don't know.

Putting the "right sort" of republic to the electorate may matter as much as the issue itself.


South Africa also held a (successful) republic referendum in 1960, but whether that's a worthy example (for obvious reasons) I guess depends on individual interpretation.

On the other hand Wales could just "declare" a republic post-independence. The Irish Free State doing so via the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921-22 and the Executive Authority (External Relations Act) of 1936. Tthe latter reduced the role of the King in Irish affairs to almost a token role barely worth the effort of.

And, of course, there's that other famous historical example from across the Atlantic.

What sort of republic?

A republic by definition is a system where the people at large have ultimate control over the government. There are obvious example in the World today where they have a funny definition of "republic", especially those with "people's" and "democratic" in their official name.

As Wales is a liberal multi-party democracy - albeit with dominant party system - there are three main types of republic that we can realistically choose between.

1. Presidential Republic

This is where a president has executive powers, usually constitutionally limited. More often than not there's a clear separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The president has a "direct mandate" and is usually elected in a separate election.

However because of the principle of separation of powers, the cabinet is usually hand-selected by the president and sits outside of the legislature. Examples include the United States, Brazil, South Korea. This doesn't appear to be a form of government that's too popular in Europe.


2. Semi-Presidential Republic

In semi-presidential republics, the president and prime minister usually share powers, (sometimes but not always) defined by the constitution - so both take an active role in government. For example, the president may have power over external and foreign policy while a prime minister controls domestic affairs. The most prominent example is France, but it's also used in Finland, Russia and Ukraine.

3. Parliamentary Republic

The executive powers are largely retained by the legislature and there's no clear separation of powers. This is the most common form of republic in Europe. The head of the legislature is usually the head of the government - for example the Chancellor of Germany.

In these republics, the role of president is usually ceremonial, with a few defined powers, such as : signing treaties, appointing ambassadors, commander-in-chief and the general representative role the monarch fulfils currently.

It would enable the widest possible stream of Welsh society to stand for election, while a presidential republic would require candidates with some political nouse. This does seem to be the most common path for former constitutional monarchies.

The President - elected or appointed?

Some republics appoint their president from within the legislature. It was proposed in Australia and is currently used in South Africa, Germany, Iraq, Italy and Israel. It's surprisingly common to do it this way - especially in parliamentary republics - but by and large presidents are directly elected.

How should we elect them?



  • Straight up first past the post?
  • A two-round system, as used in France, where only the top two candidates go forward?
  • Supplementary Vote, as used in the Mayor of London election?
  • Alternative Vote, a step further than supplementary vote?

First past the post is simple, but it doesn't ensure the backing of the majority and could lead to low turnouts. While a ceremonial president wouldn't be high-stakes enough to go through multiple rounds of voting.

Who would we want? What should their role be?

Having a ceremonial president answers this to a certain extent.

I'd picture a President of Wales having powers/role such as:
  • Commander-in-chief of the Welsh Defence Forces
  • Represents Wales abroad and at home with dignity and tact.
  • Receive and entertain visiting dignitaries and guests of honour, organise state visits and functions.
  • Conferring honours, appointing ambassadors, commissioning officers etc.
  • Act as a mediator in inter/intra government disputes (i.e coalition negotiations)
  • Declare a state of emergency, national holiday and order lowering of flags on public buildings.
  • Signs Bills into law and treaties - with the authority of the legislature (majority vote).
  • Appoints the Prime Minister (with backing of legislature) and approves cabinet appointments.
  • Accepts/declines resignation of government ministers.
  • Dissolve the legislature, and call an extraordinary general election at the request of the legislature (i.e. Vote of no confidence in the government).

I can't help but feel that in reality the only candidates put forward by parties would be as some "reward" for loyal service because it's "their turn" - President Irene James anyone?

I would prefer prominent Welsh citizens from all walks of life to run, with as many independent candidates as possible. Off the top of my head: Tanni Grey-Thompson, Henry Englehardt, Gareth Edwards, Simon Weston.........I'm sure there are plenty of others too.

There's also the chance to create some "pomp" and ceremony of our own around a president. For example, some sort of formal inauguration ceremony and an evolution of the "Celebration of the Mace" that took place before the Queen's visit this week.

There are also other assorted questions that would need to be answered:
  • What would be the qualifications of office?
  • Would the president have an official residence and office? If so where?
  • What sort of security arrangements would be needed?
  • Would there need to be a Welsh language requirement for the job?
  • How much would the president be paid?

Summary

I'd prefer a directly elected, ceremonial president of a parliamentary republic. The president would be elected by either supplementary vote or alternative vote and would have a clearly defined list of powers and role in a written constitution. The president wouldn't have the power to pardon criminals, make or amend laws or veto legislation. Although commander-in-chief, only the legislature can authorise military action by majority vote. The president would be limited to two four-year terms.

To stand, candidates would need to meet the same requirements as those seeking election to the legislature, but with additional citizenship requirements, i.e. candidates must have been verifiably resident in Wales for (x) years and/or have at least one parent who is/was a naturalised Welsh citizen.

Additionally, they cannot be a sitting member of the legislature. There would also be a larger deposit for those seeking election as president and a higher vote threshold (10-15%) to retain said deposit.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Whether citizen or subject - you should attend our Assembly's state opening

It's alright, she doesn't bite!
Attend and smile through gritted teeth if they must, sit at the back, even break the odd bit of royal protocol.

On days like today, AMs are there to represent us - not themselves. Today wasn't about making political points. Or, in this case, making a political point by not being there. The first official opening of a new, empowered institution should be a celebration regardless of your politics (hardcore Unionists duly exempted).

Whether the state opening of the 4th Assembly is by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Betty Windsor - everyone's favourite mamgu, an Elvis impersonator or Bartley Bluebird matters not. It's a little like boycotting a (theoretical) Welsh football game as a Cardiff City fan because an ex-Swansea player is managing the side. Today was about the Assembly itself - not the Queen.

It's with some dismay that Plaid Cymru AMs have decided to use this as an opportunity for some sixth-form politics.

They have every right to boycott it of course, and I don't think any less of those who've done so. If anything, I'm pleased we have principled AMs - even if actions like these are an open invitation to beat Plaid with a stick by those appealing to base populism. That particular kind of toadying is nauseating.

I'm a republican. I believe that when Wales is independent, we should have an elected head of state - if the people of Wales want it via a referendum - in addition to a written constitution and Bill of Rights.

Personally though, it's quite far down the list of priorities. It's behind the state of our economy and education system. It's behind a separate legal jurisdiction, energy devolution, protecting Welsh culture, tax varying powers, independence itself and even a Welsh national cricket team!

I doubt I'm the only nationalist who could live with retaining the monarchy if it meant independence.

I'll give you another snippet of information too. Back in the Golden Jubilee year, I planned my own protest against monarchy. Only a Geography A-Level exam clash prevented me from going through with it.

That sense that all perceived injustices in the world have to be opposed by marching, loudhailers, raised fists, boycotts or waving a few placards seems as distant and old hat as that exam.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

How can we solve the housing crisis?

The Home Builders Federation estimated earlier in the year that there are 100,000 Welsh families on waiting lists for housing, and that as much as £30,000 was required as deposit for a home.

People without adequate housing will become people without families who will eventually live in a society where dependents outnumber the working age population (Andrew Rawnsley going into more depth in The Observer today). The impact of artificially high house prices, limited social housing supply and the subsequent lack of workforce mobility because of it will become demographic, social, health and economic problems in the future unless the matter is addressed.

In March 2011, ONS statistics showed that the Welsh average house price was £155,393. This is near 6 times the Welsh average salary of £26,832. It illustrates the herculean task first time buyers (FTBs) have to get a foot on the property ladder. Your average Welsh 25-35 year old is unlikely to be earning anywhere near £26,832, and all things point towards as downward trend here as higher-paying roles in the public sector are cut back and inflation - combined with moribund saving rates - eat away at wages regardless of where they are earned.

The housing market is a pyramid scheme to a certain extent. It needs people entering at the bottom to enable those above to move towards the top. No first time buyers, no housing market (in theory). In Wales we have the added complication of second home owners and "good lifers" willing to buy expensive rural properties which keeps a housing market alive that would otherwise be dead.

If the housing market becomes a closed shop between the property owning middle age, middle classes and downsizers then it will be a generational betrayal of epic proportions. Sustained house price falls are a good thing.

So how can Wales ease the pressure?

Build houses in sustainable locations.

Despite the good intentions of Cardiff Council's desire to build exclusively on brownfield sites, people should be pulled from the Valleys not pushed there. Likewise, large towns and cities elsewhere in Wales should be the focus of development - not small villages like Bodelwyddan. People should live as close to transport links or jobs themselves as possible. Wales lacks agglomeration, and that holds back our economy and probably stunts us socially and culturally too.

As an example of the latter, if Welsh is to survive as a first language it needs to be spoken by the young and young families. That means more starter homes in the larger Welsh-speaking towns of Y Fro. What better deterrent to second home ownership than towns full of rowdy young Welsh- speakers doing the sort of things young people enjoy?

Prefabricated, modular and self-build housing.

A popular solution to housing problems post World War II. The technology has changed however and the pre-fab housing of the 21st Century is a lot easier on the eye than back then. If the supply chain is local or regional - and if the major house builders can come up with imaginative designs - then it could be one way to increase supply, reduce cost and boost manufacturing in one swoop.

How about laying the utilities and roads on patches of land, and selling plots off for self build or to a cooperative group of individuals? Ashley Vale in Bristol is an example of such a development.

Self-build houses don't always have to be cock-sure, grandiose (and presumably expensive) architectural statements of course.

A national points system for social housing allocation.

It makes sense that while supply of social housing is limited, it's rationed accordingly.

Those prioritised for social housing should be : smaller families in low paid employment, those with a strong local connection, carers and their dependents, Armed Forces families and those moving for employment purposes.

Those at the back of the list could include : workless households, people with dependency issues who are not actively seeking treatment and the unemployed with no local connection.

Longer term private tenancies.

It's been brought up in the media recently and long-term rent agreements are common on mainland Europe. Private landlords should be legally obliged to offer long-term rent arrangements to tenants who have been living in the same home, with no problems/arrears, for a probationary period i.e 6 months.

Some sort of "rent stabiliser", a formula/guide to how much someone should ideally be paying in rent in an area, to ensure tenants are not being ripped off by their landlords might be also an idea.

Bring abandoned housing stock back into use

Instead of endless houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), those sturdy Victorian stone terraces Wales is famous for, should once again become family homes or 1-2 bed apartments. Incentives by local and national government to encourage developers and housing associations to regenerate abandoned or under-utilised housing should be encouraged.

New home building is a messy and mostly environmentally costly process, so using old and abandoned housing and retrofitting them to modern environmental standards is one small contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.