Monthly Archives: July 2011

A step in the right direction

Last week it was drawn to my attention that the number of people currently on the Elmbridge BC housing waiting list had fallen below 1,500.

Last year, when the question of the Wootton development was a live issue the waiting list stood at 1,700, with on average 300 homes becoming available in any one year.

There are no grounds for complacency about these numbers. Elmbridge is still a difficult place to find somewhere to live if you are on a limited income. But at least the figures are moving in the right direction, and I would like to think that the fact that 185 new affordable homes were delivered in the financial year 2010-2011 – a significant increase on recent years – has made a positive contribution to getting the numbers on the waiting list down.

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Fortress Elmbridge?

Here is Charles Moore in this week’s Spectator:

“You cannot blame people, I suppose, for blocking their drives with electric security gates, but they are a bad sign. The gates make one feel that a neighbourhood does not exist. We lives 50 miles from London, and there are virtually no security gates in our village, but I notice that you only have  to go about 5 miles nearer the capital for them to become more frequent, and 20 miles for them to be everywhere.”

When I first moved to this part of the world I was quite taken aback by the number of electric gates. Some of course are behind further security in the form of private roads, closed off by electric gates or manned security. I had never encountered this before, and like Charles Moore, I do not believe that they add anything to the sense of community.

Whilst not wanting to sound complacent, this is not a high crime area. I have on more than one occasion left my garage door open at night, to find nothing stolen in the morning. So why do people feel the need for high security? Do they genuinely feel under threat? Perhaps if you are an oligarch, or a spiv property developer, hiding behind the extravagant security on high-spec estates makes sense as you are protected from those who have a sense of grievance about the way in which you came into your money.

But these people are in the minority. Would it therefore not increase the sense of community belonging, and certainly assist those whose job it is to deliver things (including political hacks at election time), if these gates were done away with?

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