A while ago, Bradford Council - by which I mean the full council of 90 elected councillors - decided not to indulge in more research into the supposed "housing crisis" in the District. I recall the debate as I spoke in it and argued that the money spent on a Strategic Housing Market Assessment and a Strategic Housing Land Allocation Appraisal was probably enough to tell us about the District's housing needs.
However, our shiny new portfolio holder, Cllr Slater, thinks differently. We've got into bed with lefty think tank IPPR to play the game of "let's create a housing crisis" (for connoisseurs of crisis I shall mention "lintilla"):
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a well-known think tank, is working with Bradford Council to look at issues surrounding housing.
The online survey is aimed at learning about residents’ housing ‘aspirations’, including where they would like to live, whether they would prefer to own or rent and what could most affect their chances of achieving their ambitions.
Where would I like to live? Sometimes it's a top floor penthouse overlooking the marina at Monte Carlo, on occasion a vast, ancient pile set in a rolling North Yorkshire park or perhaps a palazzo in Venice. And I can't achieve this ambition because I'm not yet a billionaire. How this helps with housing issues in Bradford, heaven alone knows! Yet Bradford Council is prepared to waste its resources (against the views of the majority of its elected members) on asking daft questions like this!
What we'll find (and I give you this exclusive insight now) is that people want to live in pleasant surroundings, they want to get out from cramped terraces, to escape from the dreariness of estate life, to dwell in a place with a little less anti-social behaviour and, ideally, to own their house. People don't want to live in Holme Wood, in Girlington or in Bolton Woods; they want to live in Ilkley, in Addingham or (dare I suggest) in Leeds.
Simply asking a self-selecting (this is an on-line survey with no quota sampling, no randomisation and no checks) audience is both bad research - the IPPR should know better - and lousy politics. What this silly Labour councillor is pushing is an agenda where her scramble for votes justifies a housing policy based on me wanting to live overlooking the marina at Monte Carlo.
There will be lots of lovely words wrapped around this project but, in the end, it will not make a jot of difference to ordinary people in Bradford. What it will do is provide Councillor Slater and other well-off, middle class Labour councillors who don't live anywhere near the places they represent, a platform to pontificate about "exclusion", "poverty" and a made-up "housing crisis".
If Bradford has housing problems, they won't be solved by the IPPR. Of that I'm absolutely sure. And they certainly won't be solved by this indulgent, biased, poorly designed piece of "research".