A report by the think tank Centre for Cities was published yesterday which generated strong headlines and made a clear link between house-building and economic vitality in major urban areas.
Cities Outlook 2013 calls for more flexibility for local councils in these areas to develop ways of supporting house-building or improvements, which could plug the shortfall in the supply of homes the country needs (currently said to be running at more than 100,000 a year). Its research suggests that meeting this gap could create 150,000 new jobs and add 1% to national economic growth rates, making most of us a winner in the process.
On the Community of Practice website today, I came across a presentation about media myths that council comms teams battle against from Local Government Association deputy chief executive Jo Miller.
Her presentation in February covered common media criticisms of councils (non jobs, waste, bin collections, executive pay) and counters these with messages from the LGA and a call to action to authorities to stand up to the slating they get.
The recent decision by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to reject Eric Pickles‘ proposals to restrict the publication of council newspapers has reopened a debate on the role such publications should play.
In one corner is the Government, which is strongly critical of councils spending public funds on ‘town hall pravdas’ that they see as little better than propaganda magazines. They are supported by regional and local newspaper publishers who cite them as a threat to their businesses because some charge advertising revenue and publish weekly editions, putting them in direct competition with their papers. Publications like H&F Newsand East End Life (both published by London authorities) are cited of evidence of this trend.
BBC reports today of a spike in the number of people waiting to access affordable housing contain some stark statistics to stand up a pretty grim narrative. According to reports, more than 11,000 people joined council housing waiting lists in England between July to September last year, a rise of 12% on the previous quarter. Economic slowdown, the effect of the ‘right to buy’ policy on supply and a decline in housebuilding numbers are all cited as causes to address.