In July 2017 the London Borough of Havering called off a vote to make Havering a unitary district to solve it’s identity crisis and take back control from the City of London. It was put forward by UKIP councillor Laurence Webb and supported by many other councillors and the MPs of the borough as well. According to Cllr Webb the GLA is run like a ‘miniature EU’ where the amount of council tax paid to the city is not returned 100% to the local borough.
The issue at the time that started this was the way Havering receives funding from City Hall for planning issues but receives little support in return. However the money that is filtered back to Havering only goes on projects that the London Mayor wants, and not what the locals want. As a resident of this borough I was very much in favour of this vote. It became known as ‘Hexit’, although that’s not a name I would call it. I would call it a motion to reduce the expansion of Greater London, independent control of tax and planning, and a means to stop London from outgoing it’s boundaries.
Recently there have been calls to increase the number of new homes in London. But for the residents of Havering that will mean losing a lot of green fields and brown fields for development. In the time that I have lived around Havering I have walked through nice green, lush and beautiful fields. I go through some of them for nature walks and practice archery at one very good park that borders with Thurrock, which is a unitary district.
A number of new homes are already under construction in Havering and it is already becoming a depressing one for the residents. There is a plan to build over 30’000 new houses in the borough over 10 years. Now what concerns me most is what is going to become of London that it will swallow up and become within the next 20 – 40 years. This need for new homes isn’t just because of population growth and immigration crisis but of a socio-economic problem.
In the years that I have seen London grow in power, it is likely that by the year 2050 it will become so big that it will have reduced the surrounding counties to suburban and rural districts. In Essex you have to travel as far as Chelmsford or Colchester before you really feel like you’ve left the capital.
Also another issue with London’s increasing size is it’s power over the whole country. From what I learnt during the EU referendum the amount of power that is concentrated in the South East shows just how much wealth, power, economic freedom and development there is down here compared to the North and the other nations of Scotland and Wales. This social prejudice and lack of proactive support for the Northern cities and those outside the M25 is making the country divided in a social and economic way.
As a Londoner I really do wish for the country beyond the M25 to have such power and economic prosperity. It will allow the surrounding counties to free themselves from constant connections to London and make their own counties more centralised. My friends in the North and Scotland would welcome this action. It means that they get a better deal for themselves and have greater opportunities for commerce and business. As well as freeing up valuable space needed to preserve the green spaces around London and stop a growth in the toxic fumes that are caused by pollution from congested traffic.
There is also a class issue attached to this. In the fall out of the Grenfell Tower disaster there was a conspiracy stating that the council house tenants of inner cities were being ‘socially cleansed’ from the capital. There isn’t much action from the councils in Central London to improve or build new council properties as such. Some of the homes that are going to be built in Havering won’t be housing just the locals, but overspill from the neighbouring boroughs. At the rate things are going there is going to be segregation based on race, religion and social class.
When I was canvassing across London I noticed a distinction in the Londoners of Richmond and Romford. Canvassing in Romford I found a lot of working class towns people in very ordinary jobs in modest properties and council housing. When I travelled over to Richmond I saw a lot of middle to high class people in big home owning properties.
If London will ever continue it’s rapidly expanding increase in control on local affairs and planning for it’s boroughs then what is going to happen to it’s citizens? One Scottish newspaper declared that London is a separate state that impoverishes us all. As a Londoner I can confirm that. There isn’t enough room for it to swing it’s groove anymore. It’s an over bloated metropolitan paradise that leaves little room for the small bright minds of localism.