‘Time to make a judgement call on new homes’

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I was accused the other week of skirting round the big issues facing our little town.

I tend to muck about and mock when in fact I should be some sort of social commentator. Some people would occasionally like Jeremy Paxman instead of Stuart Hall.

So I thought for this week’s article I would make a judgement call on the proposals for 700 new houses which are to be built in Thame.

I researched this thoroughly, by reading the front page wraparound supplement that came with this paper the other week and which I recalled having some interesting answers.

Unfortunately the paper I needed was lining the Guinea Pig cage, which at least proved that my work does serve a useful purpose.

However, the gist of the article was that South Oxfordshire District Council have ‘decreed’ that we need 775 new houses to be built in Thame over the next 15 years. To put that into perspective, that’s 51 houses a year, and there are roughly 12,000 people living in Thame.

Regular readers will know that my mathematics is a bit hit and miss, but the average figures for the UK show 2.3 people per household, so 2.3 times 775 is 1,782.5 more people who would live in Thame. That’s about 15% more, over the next 15 years. And we can’t stop that happening. Originally the district council wanted to build most of those houses on one site , but the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ which has been put forward would allow people in town to at least have a say in how those houses are developed, what the infrastructure is and what we need.

Basically, people in Thame would get a say, if they wished, rather than everything being dumped on us without asking. We will be asked to vote in a local referendum on whether we let the district council start decreeing, or whether the town council, in consultation with the residents, sort it out themselves.

I have probably oversimplified things, and a fuller, slightly duller, explanation will be on the letters page next week. There might even be some name calling, which will be nice.

All I can do is be honest, right? If the houses are going to be built anyway then we might as well have a say in it. So we vote for the referendum, when we are asked to in spring. Easy.

And if we are going to have a say in how things develop around us then it’s better to start planning what we need. Obviously we are going to need the essentials: a bigger school, a great big supermarket on the cattle market*, a bigger kebab van, and way, way more speed bumps.

There. I think I’ve proved I have political insight in my locker too.

*Not really, just winding you up.