Knowledge and Analytical Services

May 012014
 

‘Jac writing about Cardiff!’ I hear you exclaim, before dropping your coffee in your lap. Yes, and I’m not even going to gloat over certain sporting matters. I’m writing this post because the Cardiff LDP could have implications well beyond the city itself. Before getting down to it let me acknowledge that the post was inspired by Councillor Neil McEvoy’s article on Daily Wales. I only know Neil through social networking but he seems the type of energetic and awkward (in the best sense of the word) politician Wales needs. The kind of man who enjoys making life difficult for those who think their decisions should be accepted without question.

First, a brief explanation. Every local authority has to produce a Local Development Plan telling us how it proposes meeting the future needs of its area in terms of population growth and housebuilding. This is done with the ‘guidance’ of the Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. Statistics and projections are supplied by StatsWales via the Knowledge and Analytical Services of the same London department. Both the PI and KAS have civil servants based in Cardiff, which allows the ‘Welsh’ Government to claim that it alone is responsible for planning matters in Wales. In this, as in so much else, I fear, the ‘Welsh’ Government deludes itself and misleads the rest of us.Cardiff LDP Map

Local Development Plans across Wales cover the period 2006 – 2026 and are at different stages of acceptance and adoption, so the Cardiff Plan is already way behind schedule. Something else worth saying about LDPs is that they were first compiled before the figures from the 2011 Census became available (from July 2012). Which is odd, seeing as the Census results contradicted many of the assumptions and projections on which the LDPs were predicated.

One of the great mysteries of LDPs in Wales is why they were pushed through even though it was known that the presumptions and calculations on which they were based could be undone by the findings of the 2011 Census. It’s not as if the 2011 Census sneaked up on us, everybody knew it was coming, so why not wait for the hard facts it provided. It’s almost as if certain interests wanted to rush the LDPs through before the figures used could be proved wrong by the Census.

The Deposit LDP for Cardiff can be found here and if you scroll down the page you’ll find a link to the Background Technical Paper on Population, Households and Dwellings. On page 17 of the latter document you’ll find the table below. According to this table the population will increase by 71,612 between 2006 and 2026; resulting in 42,363 new households requiring  41,132 new dwellings. These figures are interesting, but even more interesting is the source for the 2026 figures, the ones used to determine how many new dwellings Cardiff will ‘need’. The Population figures for 2006 and 2011 come from the Office for National Statistics’ Mid Year Estimates (MYE). The Household figure for 2006 comes from StatsWales because household projections are contracted out by the ONS to Knowledge and Analytical Services (i.e. StatsWales). But the all-important 2026 figures are attributed to the “Edge Report”, so what is this? Well, it refers to Edge Analytics, “the specialists in demographic modelling”.

Cardiff LDP summary table

Click to Enlarge

Which then raises the question: ‘Why would Cardiff council recruit expensive consultants? The council already employs thousands of people, it has access through electoral rolls, council tax ledgers, planning and other data to a wealth of information about the city and its people; and all this can be supplemented by the population projections and other figures provided free by the ONS and StatsWales. So why employ outside specialists?

I’ll leave that question for a while to focus on the most recent national projection released by StatsWales / KAS, which says that the population of Wales in 2026 will be 3,238,000, an increase of 164,000 on 2012. At the 2011 Census Cardiff’s population of 346,090 accounted for 11.3% of Wales’ total. So 11.3% of 164,000 would mean Cardiff’s population increasing by 18,532 to 2026. This, I concede, is unrealistic, so let us assume an increase in Cardiff of double the Welsh average, giving a figure of 37,064 and a population in 2026 of  383,154. This, I think, is reasonable, because if we see anything more, such as the 30% of Wales’ total population increase predicted by Edge Analytics (or Cardiff city council), then the rest of the country needs to start asking serious questions of the ‘Welsh’ Government about investment levels and employment opportunities in other areas of Wales.

Cardiff LDP 4

Click to Enlarge

Which may give us one reason Cardiff city council decided not to use official figures – they didn’t allow for a big enough increase in the city’s population. (Though, in fairness to them, it seems that Edge did suggest reducing certain of the counci’s predictions – see panel – but the council rejected these recommendations!) Although we have the national projection to 2026, StatsWales / KAS needs to pull its finger out and produce the breakdown by local authority, no matter how unwelcome that will be to certain people connected with Cardiff city council.

Having dealt with population projections the other big issue is the number of new homes the council extrapolates from that figure. To be exact, 41,132 to cope with a projected 71,612 more people. Many factors go into determining how many new dwellings will be needed but the two principal considerations are household size, that is, the average number living in any dwelling; and new households forming, that is, people leaving the parental home to live alone or with a partner, marital break-up, etc.

The current average household size for Wales is 2.31 though higher for Cardiff due to its much younger age profile; and there has been a reducing rate of new household formation for a number of years, even before the recent economic crisis. (See the panel above.) One factor is that more people in their twenties and thirties are living with their parents, as this article explains. Another factor will be the changes in benefits payable to, for example, young single mothers. Finally, we need to consider the 3% of the population living in communal establishments, not households. Add it all up and it makes the claimed 42,363 new households from a population increase of just 71,612 difficult to accept, perhaps suggesting that it contains an element of wishful thinking or speculative housing. I would have thought that Cardiff had seen enough of the latter in recent years. Worse, to stick with the housing figure knowing that the population increase itself is exaggerated could mean that the whole exercise is driven by speculative housing interests.

Other factors also need to be considered in explaining why both the population and household projections are unrealistic. First, the city’s student population of some 37,000 accounts for many houses of multiple occupation (HMO), the large number of buy-to-let mortgages, and also helps push up Cardiff’s household size. But there is surely a limit to how many students Cardiff can attract without standards falling and / or too many students alienating the resident population. Second, the population increase figure between 2001 and 2011 was heavily influenced by immigration from the ‘new’ EU states, mainly Poland. The Poles are going home, and they will not be replaced because there is no large country poised to join the EU.

Cardiff LDP Household gibberish

Click to Enlarge

I conclude that the true purpose of the Cardiff LDP is to increase the size, and importance, of the city at all costs, with one eye on speculative building. This to be done with no heed paid to damage inflicted on the city’s own green spaces nor the economic health of the wider region and Wales. To achieve this grandiose aim the LDP then has to pick and choose which statistics suit the purpose and, indeed, which recommendations of is own consultants can be used. This is one reason Edge Analytics was retained – to serve as a whipping-boy or scapegoat if the opposition got organised – ‘Our consultants advised us . . . ‘. But as we’ve seen, the council was very selective in what it accepted from its consultants.

This all results in hundreds of pages designed to confuse the curious and discourage those minded to oppose the LDP. Partly achieved by passages of near-gibberish, such as the one reproduced in the panel above. There were not “346,100 households in Cardiff” in July 2012, that was the city’s population (though I don’t recognise the figure). While the 2008-based household size projection for Cardiff is actually 2.36, so I have no idea where the 2.35 and 2.33 figures quoted come from. Edge Analytics? Though it may be worth remembering that the smaller the household size then the more new dwellings that will be ‘needed’.

In many respects the Cardiff Local Development Plan is no worse than other LDPs I have looked at, such as those for Carmarthenshire, and Denbighshire. The main difference being that with Cardiff it’s difficult to detect the behind-the-scenes insistence of the Planning Inspectorate on building more houses than an area needs, presumably because Cardiff city council, unlike many other authorities, needed no encouragement. Consequently the Cardiff Local Development Plan is a compendium of carefully selected statistics plus ‘statistics’ that seem to have been plucked from thin air. As a work of the imagination it might be worth entering it for some literary award. But it should never be implemented; for to do so would be damaging both for Cardiff and for Wales.

STOP PRESS: Last night there was a referendum in the Fairwater-Pentrebane area of Cardiff on the LDP. The question posed was: ‘Do You Think That The Deposit Local Development Plan Should Be Adopted For Cardiff?’ The result: Yes 31 votes (2%), No 1,311 votes (98%) Turnout 13.55%. Read about it here in Daily Wales.

Apr 252014
 

A few days ago I was directed to a piece on the MailOnline website about Barcelona or, more specifically, tourism in Barcelona or, to be really, really specific, high volume and damaging tourism. The problem is that “uncontrolled tourism” is attracting too many low-spending tourists who are turning Barcelona into a ‘theme park’ and making locals feel like strangers in their own city. To give some idea of the perceived problem, in 1993 the city attracted 2.5 million visitors but by 2012 that figure had quadrupled to 10 million. Going to YouTube turned up other videos on a similar theme. One about the Lake District, this one about Snowdonia. And there are others.

Does all this sound familiar – hordes of cheapo tourists over-running a place and making the locals feel like strangers? Of course it does, because it’s what happens in Wales. Though the citizens of Barcelona should be thankful that their city isn’t being bought up by these visitors, looking for holiday homes, a lifestyle change, or somewhere to retire to. Nor is it destroying the Catalan language and identity. And I guarantee that most of the businesses taking the tourists’ money are run by natives of Barcelona. (Though the pickpockets mentioned almost certainly come from further east.)

Wales tourism stats

Click to Enlarge

The traditional reason that Wales is a low-spend destination for tourists is because tourism in Wales was developed for the convenience of England, not for the benefit of Wales. Which has meant that in practice, we – or those who run tourism here – target English tourists saving their major outlay for holidays abroad, encouraging them to use Wales for weekend breaks and secondary holidays. Then, because these English tourists don’t spend much, we must have them in damaging and unsustainable numbers. This recent news story even rejoiced in the fact that Wales is “affordable” / cheap, without apparently realising that ‘cheap’ is also a derogatory term.

Though the story in WalesOnline is rather confusing. It claims a record 9.93m tourists spending a record £1.7bn in 2013. Yet the figures on the ‘Welsh’ Government website, for 2012 (see panel), claim 10.45m tourists (from the UK and overseas) spending £2,44bn. Presumably the article refers only to tourists from within the UK, though this is not stated.

Numerate readers (of whom I have many) will have worked out that this means in 2012 UK visitors spent on average £165 (up to £171 in 2013), whereas overseas visitors spent on average £405. So why aren’t we doing more to attract overseas visitors, of whom we’d need fewer? Well, in addition to the explanation given above, tourism in Wales also has a political purpose, in that it anglicises Wales; partly by smothering areas in English tourists for months on end and partly by encouraging English tourists to make a permanent move to Wales. And don’t overlook the financial benefits . . . to England. Money spent in Wales by English tourists will eventually make its way back to London, unlike money spent abroad.

(The panel from the ‘Welsh’ Government website also quotes “around 100 million day visits” earning “over £3bn”. I have ignored these figures mainly because we are expected to believe that these are all day trips made from outside Wales; they are not. The most popular pay-to-enter ‘tourist attraction’ in Wales is Swansea Leisure Centre. Most visitors come from within a 15 mile radius. Your next shopping trip or day out in Wrecsam, Llandudno, Aberystwyth, Brecon or Carmarthen may count as a ‘day trip’. So you will understand why I treat such figures with caution, if not contempt. The (nicely rounded) figures for day trips get wild guesswork a bad name, but are, regrettably, what we expect with tourism ‘statistics’.)

The table I’ve compiled (and I hope it’s clear) gives some figures for the tourism industries in Ireland, Scotland and Wales for one year. (Click to enlarge.) The figures for Ireland and Scotland were fairly easy to come by, but not so with the figures for Wales. The ‘Welsh’ Government website is difficult to negotiate, full of guff and propaganda on tourism but low on facts. So I went to StatsWales, the ‘Welsh’ Government’s specialist group for statistics – actually part of an English government department – but the most recent figures available there are for 2010. (A regular failure with StatsWales.)

Tourism table

Click to Enlarge

A few observations from the table. As an example of how little Wales really earns from tourism note that visitors from the Six Counties to the Republic spent £225 per head, even though many would have been staying with friends and family, or making just a short trip (e.g. Derry to Donegal). Compare this to UK visitors to Wales, who spent just £165. UK visitors to Scotland spent £227 per head. In addition, Scotland made over one billion pounds more than Wales from overseas tourists. Spend per head can be equated with the profit margin, which means that when other considerations – cultural damage, traffic congestion, environmental degradation, etc  – are factored in to the equation then tourism in Wales is a loss-making, bargain basement business. To tourism what the Reliant Robin is to automotive technology. Nothing to be proud of.

Furthermore, reReliant Robinmember that Ireland and Scotland are some four times the size of Wales and both see a ‘spread’ of tourists across the land, whereas most of those who come to Wales head for the west and the north, and stick fairly close to the coast. This, inevitably, results in the kind of overcrowding and unsustainabilty being complained of in Barcelona.

Given the damning facts why is ‘Welsh’ tourism trumpeted as a great success story that cannot be improved on? Why are we constantly reminded that our rural and coastal areas were wastelands ere the arrival of English tourists, and without them to wastelands they will return? In a word, we’ve been brainwashed. We can either continue accepting this ludicrous – and, frankly, racist – propaganda or we can start arguing for a tourism industry for the twenty-first century rather than the nineteenth, one that serves Wales and Welsh people.

Fundamentally, and for benefits across the board, we need to attract more overseas visitors and fewer low-spend tourists from England. To do that we must ditch the defeatist argument that says Scotland and Ireland have a higher international profile. Because even though this may be true today, there are successful tourism destinations now that were unknown a few decades ago. It comes down to promotion, and priorities.

The first priority is for the soi-disant ‘Welsh’ Government to start living up to its name, by putting Welsh interests first. A phased move from caravans to serviced accommodation would be a start. Tourism taxes – especially at ‘hot spots’ – would be another step in the right direction. The second priority must be minimising the influence of the tourism operators who currently control long-term and strategic planning. Few of these are Welsh and consequently have little regard for the damage being inflicted. Too many are driven by self-interest and believe there can never be too many tourists. That’s the major problem with tourism – if you allow it to be run by such people then you end up with the problems of Barcelona, or Venice, or Prague, or Wales. Restraining influences are needed.

Mar 132014
 

I had intended putting this out on Twitter or Facebook, just to inform people that the deadline for representations on the planned 1,700 new homes at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire has been extended to March 21st. In view of the new figures available for both population predictions and household size it is well worth challenged this plan because it is clearly no longer needed. (In fact, these 1,700 new homes were never needed.) I have chosen to develop the subject into a post after reading the planning inspectors’ report on Denbighshire’s Local Development Plan. (Click on image to enlarge.)Denbighshire blog map

I want to pick out certain comments made by the inspectors because they are worthy of a wider audience. I say that because although we may be talking here of Bodelwyddan, or Denbighshire, the attitudes displayed by the inspectors have national implications. Because this is how they operate all over Wales.

Let’s start by identifying the inspectors, Anthony Thickett and Gwynedd Thomas. We can safely assume that the report is the work of Thickett and that Gwynedd Thomas is there to lend a little local colour. I Googled ‘Anthony Thickett’ and found his name linked to planning matters all over England and Cornwall in recent years. Though he seems to be based in Cardiff, which provides further proof that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales body, and answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. So what did Mr Thickett have to say last year in response to Denbighshire County Council’s revision of their Local Development Plan? As you might imagine, I was specifically interested in those recommendations that related to housing.

Starting with 4.1 (page 16) we learn that, “The 2008 Welsh Government* projections indicate the need (my italics) for around 8,500 new units in Denbighshire between 2008 and 2023.” The council argued for a lower figure on the grounds that more recent statistics showed a reduced need. The inspectors would have none of it, and their response was a gem of officialese that can be found in the panel (click to enlarge). In essence, it says, ‘Yes, the council is quite right; but we shall still insist on thousands of unnecessary new housing units anyway’. So what are “the objectives and aspirations” that justify the Planning4.8 Inspectorate ignoring the council’s plea? We are told that Denbighshire has an ageing population – or “aging” according to the inspectors – with more deaths than births, which would result in a declining population unless young people moved in to the county. Let us examine this claim.

Denbighshire, like many other parts of Wales, has an ageing population due to the lack of a healthy and balanced economy. Worsened by tourism creating few worthwhile jobs for locals while attracting retirees and elderly people. This can be remedied, according to the inspectors, with a building programme to attract a younger population from outside of the county. But wait! if the lack of jobs forces many young people to move away, where are the jobs for this younger population moving in? Well, most of the jobs will remain where they are now, in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire. For what the inspectors are really talking about is attracting a commuter population. (Apart from the riff-raff being dumped in the coastal ghettoes.) This explains why the bulk of the planned new housing is close to the A55. Moving on, what do messrs Thickett and Thomas have to say on the Welsh language?

You may not have noticed – few have – that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) has started a campaign demanding that the Welsh language be a material consideration in planning matters. The inspectors address the very same issue, and produce another little gem of officialese (click panel to enlarge). What this says (again, in essence) is, ‘We shall always find a reason to ignore the Welsh language’. But there is sugar on the pill with the following assurance (yup, in essence), ‘Even though we are doing our best to kill off your language, and your very identity, we shallLDP Welsh Language 2 disguise this atrocity with Welsh street names in the new developments’. The kind of cheap and meaningless cosmeticism that has satisfied language (non-)campaigners in recent decades.

The answer to Denbighshire’s “aging” population is not an unending programme of house building but a healthy and balanced local economy to stabilise and grow the indigenous population. Coupled with a presumption against those housing developments designed to attract elderly buyers from outside Wales. These are hardly radical demands when Welsh identity is under threat in a way it never has been before. An assault that if it showed itself with the ugly visage of overt oppression would be resisted; but when it sidles up behind the mask of ‘development’ and ‘economic activity’, then too many are fooled. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled any more. There are too many areas where we Welsh are already in a minority. It’s time to say, ‘Thus far and no further’. Speak out and don’t allow the colonisation of our homeland to be brushed under the carpet any longer.

Now is the time to do it. I say that because for years the Planning Inspectorate has had everything its own way, It has browbeaten our local authorities with questionable statistics produced by in-house statisticians demanding thousands upon thousands of new homes Wales doesn’t need. Demands then mouthed obediently for them by those traitorous buffoons down Cardiff docks. The game is up. No one can persist in arguing that Denbighshire needs 8,500 new homes to meet a population increase of 4,134, and a household size of 2.31, without admitting to a colonisation strategy.

Make a start by writing to Denbighshire County Council arguing against the plan for a new town of 1,700 homes next to Bodelwyddan. (Many councillors and council employees will be glad to hear from you.) Send an e-mail to planning@denbighshire.gov.uk or write to the Planning Department, Caledfryn, Smithfield Road, Denbigh LL16 3RJ. Why not also contact the Planning Inspectorate at their Welsh outpost: either e-mail wales@pins.gsi.gov.uk, or write to, The Planning Inspectorate, Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ. Tell them you know what their game is, and from now on their ethnocidal strategy will be opposed.

* Talking here of “the Welsh Government projections” is rather naughty. The figures were produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services which, like the Planning Inspectorate, has a few staff based in Cardiff, pretends it answers to the ‘Welsh’ Government, but is in reality part of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.

Mar 032014
 

In a number of recent posts – work back from here – I have criticised the projections made by the Knowledge and Analytical Services (KAS), a unit based in Cardiff but answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London. These projections have raised questions as to their reliability and true purpose, especially when used by the Planning Inspectorate (an ‘executive agency’ of the same DCLG) to force on our local authorities tens of thousands of new homes for which there is no perceptible Welsh demand. We have thankfully reached the stage where no matter how abstruse the subject matter, or obtuse some of our politicians, it is now difficult for anyone to justify most of the new housing demanded.

Household SizeIn particular, I sought to explain the significance of household size; that is, how many individuals make up a household. Because linking household size with projected increases in population is the basis for determining how many new homes will be needed.

The KAS had previously projected a household size for 2008 of 2.27 reducing to 2.02 by 2033, with a figure for 2011 of 2.23. The Census showed that the figure for 2011 was in fact 2.31. Which meant that the KAS had to revise its figures, which now project household size reducing from 2.31 in 2011 to 2.23 in 2026 (and 2.18 in 2036). (See KAS table, click to enlarge.) Quite a difference across Wales. As I said in an earlier post: “This difference of .08 (for 2011) may seem unimportant . . . until you remember that it equates to 46,764 dwellings and (x 2.31) a population of 108,025. To put that into perspective, at the 2011 Census there were just 31,600 households in Ceredigion”. The KAS document can be read below.

Download (PDF, 317KB)

The projected population levels have also been brought down. The figure now being quoted, for 2012 to 2037, is for an increase in Wales’ population of just 247,000. To give some idea of the recalculation involved, just two years earlier the same statisticians were projecting a population increase of 363,000 between 2010 and 2035.

So we see that in a matter of two years the projected population increase is down and the household size is up, which must result in far fewer dwellings being needed over the next 25 years than was previously argued for. A simple calculation would suggest that over that period, and by dividing population increase by household size, Wales will need something like 112,000 new dwellings. Obviously there are other factors to be taken into account that will increase that figure, but one thing’s for sure – Wales does not need anything like the figure of 331,168 new dwellings being bandied about by Carl Sargeant as recently as last autumn. It’s time for a re-think.

Nowhere is this re-think more needed than in Denbighshire. (I know I bang on a bit, but I’ve got a soft spot for Denbighshire, though not its ruined coast, obviously.) The clip below from the BBC (click to enlarge) tells us that last year Denbighshire was forced by a Planning Inspectorate inspector to build 8,500 new homes in the LDP covering the period 2006 to 2021. Yet according to the latest figures (2011) produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services the county’s population will increase by only 4,134 between 2011 and 2021. Yippee! Everybody will have two homes!

Clearly, the new housing for Denbighshire is overwhelmingly speculative building. Which also goes a long way to explaining the plans for Flintshire and Wrecsam. This is the Mersey-Dee conspiracy in operation. Our north east being used to protect property values in Wilmslow, Prestbury and elsewhere by directing the less well-heeled commuters for Liverpool and Manchester over the border, helped by estate agents advertising properties in Wrecsam as ‘WesDenbighshiret Cheshire’.

This helps explain the anomaly of the KAS projecting huge percentage increases in the numbers living alone, and childless (elderly) couples – groups that would obviously need one- and two-bedroom properties – to justify the large numbers of new dwellings needed . . . yet after ‘consultations’ with the Planning Inspectorate and the Home Builders Federation what emerges is a deluge of planning applications for three- and four-bedroom houses!

All of which makes the motives of those arguing for extravant numbers of new dwellings deeply suspect. Greedy developers cannot be entirely blamed. Which is why I suspect there are darker motives at work; essentially an attempt to change an area’s – and eventually a country’s – character, identity, and loyalty. I may be right, I may be wrong; but it is now established beyond any doubt that the figures and projections used to intimidate Welsh councils into building homes we don’t need were most definitely wrong. Which means that the Local Development Plans are discredited. All must be scrapped.

No new development plans should be drawn up until we have had local government reorganisation. There is no reason to delay this reorganisation any longer, nor is there any good reason to get it wrong (again) by insisting that it can only be done by mergers within existing boundaries, or that the proposed new councils must stick to police force or health board boundaries. Five years from now we could have a national police force and just one health board for the whole country.

But while the future is always difficult to discern, the past, and the statistics produced in recent years by the Knowledge and Analytical Services – the figures that informed the Local Development Plans – are glaringly clear – and they are wrong! To continue as if they were right, and that nothing has changed, would be further proof of the “darker motives” I referred to above.

Feb 072014
 

I hope I can explain this without it getting too complicated. Here goes . . .

In a number of recent posts I have stressed the importance of household size / composition in determining how many new dwellings will be needed. So I thought I’d better check with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the correct definition, which is: “A household is defined as one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area”. Which means that a group of students sharing a house would presumably be a household, but a retirement or nursing home for elderly people would be a “communal establishment”.

This is important because each household is a separate dwelling. It follows therefore that predicted household size coupled with projected population increase will be used to assess the number of new dwellings needed. The smaller the household size, then the greater the number of dwellings.Households

Returning to the ONS, that agency’s Table KS101EW, says that when the Census was taken in March 2011 the number of persons living in a household in Wales was 3,011,182. Table CH01, also ONS, tells us that at the Census Wales had 1,302,700 households. If we divide the number of persons living in households with the number of households we have a figure of 2.31 persons per household. Yet in its (2008-based) household size projections, Knowledge and Analytical Services (KAS), an arm of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London, but based in Wales, predicted a household size for 2011 of 2.23.

This difference of .08 may seem unimportant . . . until you remember that it equates to 46,764 dwellings and (x 2.31) a population of 108,025. To put that into perspective, at the 2011 Census there were just 31,600 households in Ceredigion. Also bear in mind that, due to the ONS ‘outsourcing’ household size projections to the DCLG, it is KAS projections that are used to determine how many new homes will be needed in Wales in future years. Clearly, anyone wishing to make Wales plan for more new homes than she really needs has only to underestimate household size.

I understand that new household size projections covering the next 25 years are due out any day. These projections from the KAS will be invalid from the outset if they do not start at 2.31 in 2011, because this figure comes from the Census, it is not guesswork. The new household size projections must also take into account other evidence that suggests a slowing in the rate of household size decline, if not a static household size.

These new projections must then be used to revise Local Development Plans and all other housing need projections in Wales.

Feb 052014
 

There was a piece in today’s WalesOnline by Graham Henry telling us that Wales needs a few hundred thousand more dwellings than are currently planned. I don’t know who fed him the story, but I suspect the Wales-based statisticians of the Knowledge and Analytical Services, who answer to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London. I say that because anyone doing serious journalism on housing projections and Local Development Plans would be bound to mention the Planning Inspectorate. Not mentioning this executive agency of the DCLG is rather like discussing the current upheavals in Welsh rugby and ignoring the role of the Welsh Rugby Union.

What is perhaps worse is that this omission allowed the article to be read as if Welsh local authorities are solely responsible for deciding how many new homes will be built. They are not. That power rests with the Planning Inspectorate, which does not hesitate to regularly insist that councils increase the number of new homes to be planned for. Councils accept these diktats because they simply cannot afford to challenge them, with the Planning Inspectorate backed financially by the UK government.Household projections Carmarthenshire

As the WalesOnline article focused on Carmarthenshire let’s look at the county’s Local Development Plan (of October 2013). Go to section 5.4.7 and we learn that the council anticipates an increase in population from 175,063 in 2008 to 192,740 in 2021, and a projected increase in households in the same period (5.4.8) of 15,197. (The 2011 census gave Carmarthenshire’s population at 181,227.) That the number of new households is not much smaller than the projected population increase is due partly to new families forming, partly to in-migration but mainly to projected smaller household size. In fact, before I started investigating housing and planning in Wales I hadn’t appreciated the importance of the household size figure. Yet it’s difficult to make sense of LDPs and other demands for housing without understanding the relationship between population growth and household size. Put simply, a household means a dwelling. If the projected population increase for an area was 20,000, and average household size was four persons, then a council would need to plan for the building of roughly half the homes needed if the household size was only two persons. Smaller households = more dwellings.

The table above right (click to enlarge) is taken from a June 2011 document, Population and Housing – Revised Topic Paper 2, used to inform the Carmarthenshire LDP. It tells us that the statisticians predict massive increases in the following types of households: single people, couples, and single parents with children. The figures come from, Household Projections for Wales (2006-based), which sees household size in the county drop from 2.25 in 2006 to 2.04 in 2021. Though seeing as this Topic Paper was produced in 2011 it’s strange that it used the 2006 figures rather than those for 2008, which predict a slightly higher average in 2021. It should be pointed out here that the Office for National Statistics has “sourced out” household projections to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. This being the department to which the Knowledge and Analytical Services (KAS) answers.

Living at homeSo how reliable are these household size projections? Not very. The 2011 census tells us there were in Carmarthenshire 78,800 households of one or more persons. If we divide this into the population figure of 181,227 it gives us a household average size of 2.30. Obviously this is not exact, but even so, it is higher than the KAS estimate for 2011 0f 2.17. Other information suggests that, far from falling, household size may actually be rising. For example, this recent report tells us that an increasing number of young adults are living at home with a parent or parents, and that this trend was observable before the economic downturn. (See panel, left.) Then, the UK government plans to cut housing benefit for under 25s rather than reduce universal pensioner benefits. Both measures are bound to increase household size. And, as a consequence, reduce the need for new housing.

No one reading this must think that I’m talking only of private, open market, dwellings, for these projections also apply to social housing, which is covered in the Housing (Wales) Bill (see recent posts). This legislation, handed down by the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, will ‘harmonise’ the provision of social housing in Wales and England. In other weopposebedroomtaxwords, anyone qualifying for social housing in England will automatically qualify for social housing in Wales. Which, when added to the UK government’s welfare reforms (such as the ‘bedroom tax’), might explain the Carmarthenshire household projections in the table above . . . if Carmarthenshire is being prepared for an influx of single mothers and others from the Great Wen.

Before concluding I must return to private housing in order to bring to your attention the remarkable transformation that occurs between statisticians’ projections and housebuilders’ planning applications. As we have seen, statisticians argue for ever smaller household size, due to more and more people living alone and an increasing number of childless – usually retired – couples. One team of academics employed by the ‘Welsh’ Government (or someone) told us that, “Of the projected net increase of 269,000 households between 2006 and 2026, 66 per cent are one-person households and 21 per cent one-parent families. ‘Couple’ households contribute 16 per cent of the total increase in households”. (Numerate readers will have noted that these three categories alone add up to 103 per cent!) Which should result in the vast majority of properties built being one- and two-bedroom dwellings – but they’re not. The latest figures available, July – September 2013, tell us that 62.6% of completed dwellings in Wales were three- and four-bedroom houses!

Clearly, a deception is being practised. On the one hand, the UK government and its Wales-based statisticians predict – against increasing evidence – smaller households in order to bump up the number of new properties needed. But then, the Planning Inspectorate, working with housebuilders and others, takes the ‘new dwellings needed’ figures, transforms them into much larger dwellings, and forces Local Development Plans on our councils. We are being made to build social housing to meet an English demand, and also private housing, from Carmarthenshire to Denbighshire, to accommodate a wealthier English influx. All part of a wider strategy of colonisation.

The Local Development Plans for Carmarthenshire and other local authorities were rushed through before the underpinning ‘statistics’ could be invalidated by: a) the consequences of the economic crisis that began in 2008 and b) the 2011 census. Almost as if the Planning Inspectorate and the statisticians knew they had only a short ‘window’ in which to force their plans on our local authorities. Now that we have more reliable statistics the Local Development Plans thus far adopted are invalidated. They must be revised. From now on we must plan for Welsh need and Welsh need only.

Jan 192014
 

As regular readers will be aware, I have recently focused on planning and housing in Wales, more specifically, the data being used to forecast how many new homes Wales will ‘need’ over the next couple of decades. What I have learnt is that the forecasts produced in the name of the ‘Welsh’ Government bear little relation to the data supplied by the Office for National Statistics nor to any genuine Welsh need. This is because those producing the forecasts are serving agendas that have nothing to do with meeting Wales’ housing needs.

Before proceeding, a brief recap might save you having to refer to recent posts too regularly. The raw data is, as I’ve mentioned, produced by the ONS. This comes in the form of the 2011 census findings and subsequent population projections. The ONS however does not produce household projections – i.e. the number of new homes that will need to be built – this is “sourced” to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. In Wales, household projections are made by a unit calling itself Knowledge and Analytical Services, which answers to the DCLG in London. These figures are then used by the Planning Inspectorate, an ‘executive agency’ of the DCLG. Both claim to have some separate Welsh existence, and to answer to the ‘Welsh’ Government. This is absolute bollocks.

Carl SargeantThe figures produced by the KAS and PI underpin the Local Development Plans currently being forced through and also the Housing (Wales) Bill (see recent posts) which deals specifically with social and rented housing. This means that all plans for new housing in Wales are concocted by civil servants answering to a UK / England government department. These machinations are then presented as a fait accompli to Carl Sargeant, the ‘Welsh’ Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, whose role in the whole squalid affair is limited to saying what civil servants tell him to say.

On January 5th I wrote to the Stats Housing unit in Cardiff asking how a projected population increase (ONS) of 357,000 between 2008 and 2033 could explain a need for 331,168 extra households being predicted by KAS, bearing in mind that the projected household size doesn’t fall below 2.0. This is even more difficult to explain when we remember that both projections, household size and household numbers, are made by the same people. Read the exchange below or click here to download it.

As you can see, the response came from a Tony Whiffen, who works for the ‘Demography, Heritage and Equalities Statistics unit of the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit of the ‘Welsh’ Government. My first thought was, ‘Seeing as demographic change in Wales invariably means the destruction of Welsh identity and heritage you have to be a real joker to link demography and heritage like that’. Anyway, Mr Whiffen’s defence seems to be that household projections are accounted for by a) predicted levels of in-migration; b) a great increase in the number of (i) people living alone or (ii) childless couples; and c) a big increase in the number of elderly people. This is supposed to explain the increase of 331,168 new households for a projected population increase of only 357,000. Now, you can accept that, or you can – like me – be a little more sceptical.

Because if Mr Whiffen is right, and the Planning Inspectorate acts on his group’s predictions, then most of the new properties planned for Wales would be one- and two-bedroom properties, bungalows and flats. Yet Mr Whiffen’s argument is fatally undermined by the Planning Inspectorate and its Local Development Plans when we see, in Carmarthen, Bodelwyddan and all over the country, schemes for thousands of new three- and four-bedroom houses, schools, and other amenities for a more ‘balanced’ population.

In the final paragraph of Mr Whiffen’s e-mail he admits that, Since then (the 2008 projections) the 2011 Census has shown that average household size has not fallen as much as projected . . . we are currently working on a new set of household projections and these will take into account the results of the 2011 Census. These will be based on the 2011-based Local Authority Population Projections for Wales and are due to be published in February.” Which looks promising, until we remember . . .

1/ These new figures will be compiled by the same people – Knowledga and Analytical Services – that wants us to believe in a population increase attributable almost entirely to people living alone. Telling us that while we can trust the data produced by the ONS the same cannot be said of those using the reputation of the ONS to make insane extrapolations.

2/ Mr Whiffen says that “we are currently working on a new set of household projections  . . . based on the 2011-based Local Authority Population Projections for Wales”, which predict a population increase for Wales of 269,777 between 2011 and 2036. But why use the 2011-based figures rather than the more recent – and reliable – ONS figures of 2012? Simple. The 2011 figures are of course the work of the KAS and predict a higher increase in population.

THE TRUTHOwen Jones

Local Development Plans and the Housing (Wales) Bill have little to do with housing (certainly with housing us Welsh), and all to do with attracting into Wales as many English settlers as possible. It is part of a wider colonisation strategy. Why? Well, this has been happening in one form or another since the national awakening of the 1960s, but it took on extra urgency when we voted for devolution, twice. With Scotland voting on independence in September it becomes essential for our masters to ‘secure’ Wales. There is no better way of doing this – proven throughout history – than by populating a territory with one’s own people.

What is sad is that many Welsh will be willing participants in this process, for a number of reasons. One is Owen Jones, a director at Boyer Planning. According to British Bullshit in the Colony of Wales, aka BBC Wales, plans have been submitted to Denbighshire county council by Barwood Land and Estates to build 1,700 new homes near Bodelwyddan. Boyer Planning acts as ‘advisers’ to Barwood (who, despite what the BBC Wales report says, are based in Northampton not Cardiff).

Though let me make it absolutely clear that I am in awe of Owen Jones. For what I have quoted in the second paragraph of the panel reveals a talent for bare-faced lying that takes my breath away. Anyone who can keep a straight face while saying that trebling the size of Bodelwyddan will not change it is a man to be watched. Very carefully.

Because Welsh identity is under threat from so many quarters, defending who and what we are must take precedence over everything else. These current housing plans are a deliberate assault on our identity. They seek to make Wales less Welsh. They are another step in the ongoing process of assimilating Wales into England. They must be fought by anyone who cares about Welsh nationhood.

From now on Wales must plan for no more housing than we Welsh need. Housing plans must not be based on earlier, and undesirable, levels on immigration. And they should certainly not be formulated to encourage downsizers, commuters, white flighters or any other category from England. Fight these plans! Make Bodelwyddan a new Tryweryn!

Lose this fight and everything is lost. 

Jan 142014
 

Following on from the previous post, here is my response to the Welsh Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing (Wales) Bill. The deadline for responses is Friday, so if you want to make a point then do it now, and send it to CELGCommittee@wales.gov.uk.

In case the PDF version below should disappear (as they have a habit of doing) the document should be available here.

 

Jan 092014
 

In my recent posts I have dealt with the projected increase in households Wales will see in the next few decades. Predictions made by civil servants answering to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London, and who are provided with a fig leaf of ‘Welsh’ credibility by Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration in the self-styled ‘Welsh’ Government.

One problem is that these household projections made by the DCLG’s Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (KAS) have been used to formulate Local Development Plans that insist Welsh local authorities plan for the building of new dwellings in quantities that cannot be justified by any future Welsh demand. But we mustn’t overlook the fact that, while the majority of these new properties will be for sale, a sizeable percentage will be for rent. Which is an opportune moment to introduce you to the Housing (Wales) Bill, new legislation proposed for the rented sector in Wales. This Bill is currently being nodded through by the buffoons down Cardiff docks, with Carl Sargeant again acting as ‘fig leaf’.

Let’s look at the Bill; click here or read it below to appreciate the emotional-ideological triggers designed to elicit the right response from the right-on: ‘Social housing’ – ‘Hooray!’ ‘Private landlords’ – ‘Boooo! Bastards‘ ‘People with “problems”‘ – ‘Ah! Poor dabs.’ ‘The Homeless’ – ‘Bloody market forces’. ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ – ‘Innocent victims of persecution’. Among other things, this Bill is an attack on the private rented sector. For it seeks to ensure that housing associations, charities and the like, have a virtual monopoly in the rented sector. Which would be bad for Wales. We know what housing associations are guilty of now; if this Bill becomes law it will give them carte blanche to ignore local need and concentrate on taking in England’s problems. Before explaining the Bill’s other intentions, I want to mention something that throws light on issues raised in recent posts, and also helps us better understand the Bill.

I previously mentioned that the household numbers projection came from the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit of the Department for Communities and Local Government but, so the KAS claimed, was based on population projections made by the Office for National Statistics. So I contacted the ONS to ask if they produced their own households projections. By way of response, I was provided with this link, which takes us back to the DCLG! (The ONS has subsequently confirmed that household projections “is sourced to the Department for Communities and Local Government”.)

Clicking on the link in the second paragraph takes us here. Scroll down and you will read what I have reproduced in the panel. What struck me was the phrase “changes in household formation contributed about 3% of household growth”. Which means that, as the ONS predicts Wales’ population will increase by 247,000 between 2012 and 2037 then, with an average household size for Housholds contribution to growththe period of 2.12, and allowing for the 3% (changes in household formation), the projected increase in population could be accommodated with roughly 120,000 new dwellings. Yet the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit, speaking through its mouthpiece, Carl Sargeant, says we must prepare for 323,009 or even 331,168 new dwellings between 2008 and 2033. Doesn’t add up, does it? Let’s go back to the Bill, and something else that caught my eye.

If you go to the ‘Welsh’ Government website page for the Bill, and click on the link for Explanatory Memorandum, scroll down on that document to Section 3.4, you’ll see that alongside the opening word “Research” is a tiny 4, directing the reader to a reference that, in this case, takes us to Housing Need and Demand in Wales 2006 – 2026, by Alan Holmans and Sarah Monk of the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research. On this document scroll down to 2.12 and you’ll read what I’ve reproduced in the panel.one-person households This research tells us there will be an increase of 269,000 new households between 2006 and 2026, to cater for a projected population increase (ONS) of 282,600. With an average of some 2.12 persons per household this is a very high figure . . . but there’s an explanation – 66 per cent of that increase will be made up  of one-person households, and 21 per cent one-parent families!

If these predictions are correct, then they presage either the end of family life as we have known it, or they warn us to anticipate an influx of the elderly, the unemployed / unemployable, ex-cons, substance abusers, single mothers, ‘battered wives’, etc. This, let me remind you, is the “research” that underpins the Housing (Wales) Bill and the Local Development Plans. (The figure used by Sargeant is just an ‘updated’ version.) Reliable “research” that elsewhere – Table D6, page 98 – informs us that Denbighshire will see over 80,000 more households between 2006 and 2026! To put this into perspective, at the census of 2011 Denbighshire had just 40,500 households.

The evidence presented in this post, and recent posts, suggest strong linkage between the Department for Communities and Local Government in London and Carl Sargeant, the ‘Welsh’ Minister for Local Government and Communities. The Local Development Plans, for which Sargeant acts as front man, are ruthlessly pushed through by the Planning Inspectorate using ‘statistics’ concocted by the Knowledge and Analytical Services unit (aided by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research). Both are arms of the DCLG. Now it appears that the linkage may be getting even stronger.

A comment to my previous post provided this link. It tells us that the DCLG is providing funding – made available by the European Investment Bank (EIB) – to social housing providers. Something that should be of little interest to Wales . . . except that down among the English organisations listed as recipients of this funding we see the Wales and West Housing Association, which is receiving “up to £25m to build 251 homes in Wales & West HousingWales”. Does it qualify because it’s a cross-border outfit? I don’t think so; the website says it has offices in Cardiff and Flint (convenient for Merseyside) but says nothing of any activities in England. So why is an English government department giving money to a Welsh housing association to build properties in Wales? Why isn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government handling this funding? One suggestion is that this is devolution being secretly rolled back. And here’s another oddity. This Bill is, supposedly, Welsh legislation, dealing with housing and building in Wales – yet in 85 pages it contains not a single reference to the Welsh language!

In fact, the Bill abounds with curiosities. Here’s another. I was struck by the number of references to ‘England’, thirty-nine in all. So, for comparison, I consulted the Housing (Scotland) Bill, and do you know what? – it doesn’t contain a single reference to ‘England’. Because the Scottish Bill is precisely that – legislation for Scotland; whereas the ‘Wales’ Bill is yet more Englandandwales treachery, legislation that seeks to fully integrate social housing provision in the two countries. But not equally. For the Bill seems to suggest that someone refused social housing in England because of criminal or other behaviour must be housed in Wales. And that a local connection to any English local authority counts as ‘local connection’ in Wales!

Thirty-nine references to England and no mention of the Welsh language should tell you all you need to know about this Bill, and why it should more honestly be renamed the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill, for that’s what it is, and it’s been handed down by the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. It’s a plan to give more money and powers to ‘Welsh’ housing associations – bodies exempt from Freedom of Information legislation – in order that they can take in tens of thousands of English tenants. Why now? Well, for a start, there’s the ‘bedroom tax’, and the changes in benefits, which will result in many thousands being moved out of London. Now the UK government is talking about reducing housing and other benefits for under-25s. We could be moving towards a situation where, with legislation being slightly different in Wales to England, Wales takes in a large part of the London exodus; a paedophile refused accommodation in Birmingham could be housed in Bargoed; a young criminal evicted from a flat in Bradford will be dumped in Barmouth; and non-working families with 7 or 8 unruly kids will become your neighbours in Blaenau Ffestiniog or Blaenau Gwent. Because, don’t forget, the Department for Communities and Local Government is calling the shots, framing the legislation and dishing out the cash.

It would be nice to think that some, at least, of our AMs will see the Housing (Englandandwales) Bill for what it really is, but most will fall for the ‘triggers’ and think it ‘progressive’. And all the while, those who wish to destroy Welsh identity through colonisation will be smiling; and the parasites of the Third Sector, Labour’s Fifth Column, will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of the increased power, and more money, they’re being handed by a Tory minister in London! Wales carved up by the Brit Right and the Brit Left, both getting what they want. With we Welsh losing out, yet again.

The consultation period ends on January 17th.

Please make your feelings known about this disgraceful Bill.

Jan 062014
 

To recap . . . I believe I have established in recent posts that the ‘new households’ projections used by the Planning Inspectorate to force through the recent Local Development Plans are flawed. Deeply flawed. So obviously flawed that they were almost certainly contrived to serve a darker purpose than the provision of new housing. So let us consider the origin of the figures used and, more importantly, who produced them.

First let us go to StatsWales, a very useful and well-ordered website providing – as the name suggests – statistics about Wales. You will recall that in my two most recent posts I drew attention to the mismatch between the population projections and the projected increase in the number of households. In a nutshell, the ‘households’ figure argued for new homes greatly in excess of what would be required by the number postulated by the anticipated population increase.

So let us first consider the population projections. These can be found here, with the most recent, 2012 – 2037, predictng an increase of 247,000. If we scroll down to the ‘Metadata’, then click on ‘Author’, we see that these figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics (and can be found on the ONS website). However, when we consult the household projections and select the 2008-based projections (the latest available) these predict 323,009 new households 2008 – 2033. When we scroll down as we did with population projections we read, ‘Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government’. Is this what Carl Sargeant alluded to in his November letter (see previous post) when he said, that the methodology used to work out the households projection was ” . . . based on a Welsh specific methodology which is separate to the methodology used in England”.

(There may even be a higher figure than 323,009. You will note that in the Sargeant letter it says this figure is “slightly lower” than the figure ‘his’ civil servants were originally working with. I believe the ‘lost’ figure is 331,168. This can be found in the 2008-based households projections by totalling the figures for eachAnalytical Services local authority. Though why this doesn’t tally with the national projection of 323,009 is a mystery. Maybe when you’re being ‘imaginative’ with figures such anomalies are unavoidable)

As you might guess, I just had to find out more about the Knowledge and Analytical Services. In my enquiries I found this on the ‘Welsh’ Government website. (Click panel, right, to enlarge.) Let’s go through it carefully, for it would be easy to mis-read this little announcement.

Note first, that, in the heading, it mentions the ‘Minister for Local Government and Communities’, and later on we read, “the Department for Communities and Local Government”. The same thing, surely? No. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is in London, whereas the Minister for Local Government and Communities referred to is Carl Sargeant, down Cardiff docks. Why have a ‘Welsh’ Government department with a name so easily confused with a separate(?) department in London?

Anyway, the notice says that Carl Sargeant was ‘asked’ “to approve a list of priority analytical activities, and associated research spend, for the KAS team over the remainder of 2012-13”. Analytical activities presumably decided by, and funded by, the minister in London. In other words, a Labour Party minister in Cardiff is ordered to agree to a directive from a Tory minister in London to allow English civil servants to determine what happens in Wales. This is Carl Sargeant’s “Welsh specific methodology”! But wait! have we Carl Sargeantnot encountered this UK ministry before? Yes, indeedy! For the Planning Inspectorate itself is but an executive agency of the very same Department for Communities and Local Government.

Let us start connecting the dots. The Office for National Statistics produces population projections. However, skulking behind the original and respected imprimatur of the ONS the KAS unit then extrapolates wildly exaggerated ‘households’ projections, which are in turn taken up by the Planning Inspectorate to force through Local Development Plans that demand new housing in numbers that cannot be justified by any conceivable future local need.

To be more precise, the KAS unit and the Planning Inspectorate argue that for the ONS’ projected population increase of less than 250,000 over the next 25 years Wales will need some 330,000 new homes! (See recent posts.) Also worth noting is that KAS ‘households’ projections were produced in 2003, 2006 and 2008, so why nothing since then, especially as the ONS population projections – on which the KAS claims to base its own projections – were revised in 2010 and 2012? The answer is obvious – the 2008 ‘projections’ were concocted specifically for the Local Development Plans, to ‘justify’ some 200,000 new homes that we Welsh will not need. Making it obvious who these new homes are being built for.

Wales being controlled by unelected and anonymous English civil servants, taking their orders from London, shows up, yet again, the sham of ‘devolution’; and exposes the self-regarding buffoons of the ‘Welsh’ Government as nothing more than errand boys and mouthpieces. Worse, the refusal of these puppets to challenge the ethnocidal policies being implemented – in their name – makes them complicit in these crimes. Confirming, yet again, that the Labour Party remains the greatest enemy of Welsh nationhood.