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They want to pinch YOUR jobs!
AUDACIOUS council bosses in Birmingham and the Black Country are trying to take YOUR jobs - in an extraordinary last-ditch bid to rip up a Worcestershire blueprint for growth.
Rival planning chiefs in the West Midlands say the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) will bring too much prosperity to this county, threatening their own towns and cities.
They say the SWDP, which hopes to create 25,000 jobs in south Worcestershire, will result in too many people migrating here for a better quality of life.
The stance has been labelled “outrageous” by Worcester MP Robin Walker, who says the wider West Midlands is “running scared” of Worcestershire’s ambitions.
An independent inspector has just spent the last four days holding a public examination into the contents of the SWDP before it can be signed off by the Government.
During the hearing, people with an interest in Worcestershire’s future jobs and employment growth have been giving their opinion on it.
David Carter and Ian Culley, planning officers representing councils in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell, turned up to try and get inspector Roger Clews to shave off the number of jobs.
At the moment the SWDP has earmarked 280 hectares of land for employment, with the duo suggesting it could be reduced as low as 244 hectares.
Mr Carter said the plan’s current focus on jobs was “certainly on the generous side”.
"We have to recognise that there are risks in this current plan,” he said.
“There are risks with trying to maintain the urban renaissance and regeneration in Birmingham and the wider area.
“It’s unlikely that someone taking a job in this attractive location will live in Birmingham - they’ll want to move to Worcestershire to be closer to that job.”
He said a now defunct blueprint, the much-disliked Regional Spatial Strategy, limited south Worcestershire to 244 hectares of jobs land, suggesting the new blueprint could be reduced in line with that.
Mr Culley said: “From the Black Country authorities’ perspective, we fully share those views and concerns.”
Their arguments were countered by Mr Clews, who said: “There is an argument that offering employers a choice of sites is good.
“It would offer a range of choices for them to go to, and might not even necessarily result in a net increase in jobs if other employers close down.”
The inspector is now expected to announce a second stage of the public examination, due to be held later this year, before making a decision on whether it can be formally approved.
The SWDP earmarks land for 23,000 new homes by 2030 alongside the employment, and has already secured the backings of councils in Worcester, Wychavon and Malvern.
ROBIN WALKER - RIVAL COUNCILS ARE ‘OUTRAGEOUS’
Robin Walker says Birmingham and the Black Country are “running scared” of the county’s ambitions.
In a withering attack, he said he “always had a suspicion” the now-defunct Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) favoured the Midlands’ bigger cities and towns over Worcestershire.
“It’s completely outrageous and I only hope the inspector will ignore them,” he said.
“If Worcestershire grows, the whole region benefits and likewise, so I don’t agree with their argument at all.
“If there was ever any evidence that the Regional Spatial Strategy favoured the big cities, this is it.
“I have already written to the inspector to urge him to adopt this plan and ask that the SWDP be upheld as it is - I hope that happens.
“They are running scared of local areas like this one having its own say.
“The SWDP has been created by and given attention from local councillors and that’s the way it should be.”
The old RSS was part of the previous Labour Government’s plan to boost housing growth, and earmarked land for 365,000 homes across the West Midlands.
It was unceremoniously dumped by the Coalition amid concerns it was too centralised, favoured big urban parts of the Midlands, and was unpopular with residents.
The SWDP is an attempt to rectify those concerns by developing a plan created locally, with input from elected politicians who live and work in the county.
If the inspector does suggest changes, it will be up to the three south Worcestershire district councils to see if they can all agree the alterations.
If they can’t agree those prospective alterations, it puts the entire blueprint in jeopardy, effectively giving the inspector power to make or break it.
It comes amid growing concerns of an unravelling housing crisis nationwide, which is being hampered by the poor economy.
The National Housing Federation say over the last decade, waiting lists for affordable homes have shot up 64 per cent, and is rising further.