By this point you will have read plenty about the Prime Minister’s speech in Manchester. It was, unfortunately, the perfect metaphor for the perception of the current Government. Desperately struggling to get through to the end of a process made more difficult by unplanned interventions and the scenery falling apart.
Walking through the exhibition hall you could have been forgiven for thinking that this was a political party trying to rebound after a catastrophic defeat at a recent election. There should have been a sense that the Prime Minister had nothing left to lose so may as well start making some bold choices. Unfortunately, there only seemed to be exasperation among the attendees which ended in sympathy. Not the emotional response you are hoping for if you are Theresa May.
Just like at the Labour conference, fringe events on housing and planning were very well attended. Packed with councillors, cabinet members and Council Leaders, sessions debating how to address the housing crisis were popular. Cratus sponsored the Planning Futures’ fringe event where they unveiled their research into the capacity of local planning departments. There was a very good debate between attendees and the panel, chaired by Bob Neill MP, on how best to deliver a planning service while facing continued pressure on council budgets. The report, including the recommendations, can be found by visiting http://www.planningfutures.org/
It was a conference which was light on impactful policy announcements and those policy announcements that were made by Theresa May have, unfortunately, already been forgotten. Local councils and house builders alike are left pondering the impact of the announcement of £2bn to fund new council houses and homes for social rent. Clearly local councils are going to have an increased role in tackling the housing crisis. Here’s hoping the planning departments have the capacity.