COVENTRY PEOPLE want ‘homes they can afford’ – says independent candidate Merle Gering as he launches his council election manifesto.
Mr Gering – a passionate environmental campaigner – will be running in the local elections on May 3 for Sherbourne ward.
He will stand on a ‘brownfield first’ platform with the purpose of “giving people a vote on green belt and the local plan”.
Mr Gering accuses the present Coventry City Council of failing to address the need for affordable housing in the city.
He says it is focusing instead on putting ‘thousands’ of luxury homes in the green belt, doing little to provide low-cost homes to rent and buy.
Mr Gering said: “I am angry and fed up with the way officials and councilors ignore what local people want.
“When asked last year, 80 per cent of local people opposed the local plan and building on greenbelt, but it went through anyway.
“While one in four children live in deprived families, and one in seven families are in fuel poverty, the council should not be focusing on luxury homes.
“You would expect a Labour council to do everything possible to ease poverty but not so.
“Councillors obsess about making Coventry into a ‘Top Ten’ city, rather than dealing with real problems.
“Ironically many of the grand homes planned will be outside the city, so the extra council taxes won’t go to Coventry.”
He insisted people should vote for him to protect the green belt and get more low-cost homes built.
He pledged to reject plans for homes on Green Belt in Keresley, Eastern Green, and Kings Hill.
He has also called into question the validity of figures used to justify housebuilding on the green belt – saying the evidence used by the council is ‘appalling’.
As we reported in November, the controversial local plan for around 25,000 more homes – including on green belt – is based on ‘stupid numbers’ which miscalculate population growth, finance cabinet member Coun John Mutton admitted.
Despite this, the local plan was approved by Coventry council last December – which Gerling points out included 7,000 houses to be built on green belt land.
The Observer also highlighted how Coventry’s data show a fall in the city’s child births, and take-up of reception-year school places.
Mr Gering said: “Can anyone believe that Coventry is going to grow twice as fast as Birmingham or Solihull, three times as fast as Warwick, and four times as fast as Stratford-upon-Avon, as the council claim … apart from blinkered councilors and avaricious property developers?
“I want an immediate review of the new local plan because it is based on completely unreliable and implausible numbers.
“On any reasonable estimate of future growth, Merle argues that we can build all the houses needed on brownfield, and keep our beautiful countryside.”
Meanwhile, he says the city is investing millions in “risky” commercial ventures, like Friargate.
He also criticises excessive numbers of students in some neighbourhoods saying that other councils – including Warwick – limit the number of family homes that can be converted into student houses in an area -to reduce noise and nuisance.