As mentioned in my last column, planning and development are indeed incredibly important issues affecting people within our area. The Labour run Leeds City Council is proposing to build 8,000 homes in our area which includes building on our greenbelt sites. We need new houses and development, but, we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to cope with it and we must begin by making better use of our brownfield sites.
This is why I recently took a local resident action group to meet the Planning Minister Nick Boles to discuss the concerns. He was very supportive and gave the group invaluable advice. I have also arranged for the Secretary of State Eric Pickles to visit our constituency over the next few weeks. I have been working with the community groups and been supporting them with developing a strategy and counterproposals to be submitted to the council and planning inspector. If these concerns are not addressed then it will put tremendous pressure on our schools, doctors, roads and services. We also need homes that are more affordable, and future-proofed to cope with the needs of our ageing population.
I am pleased to see the British economy continues to improve under this Government with the UK growth forecast to 1.5 per cent for 2013, from the 0.8 per cent it had predicted in May 2013. Surveys have shown consumer confidence has grown, which will only aid the economy further as consumption makes up two thirds of spending. There has been an income tax reduction for 25 million people and 2.4 million lower earning individuals have been lifted out of income tax all together. A total of 1.25 million new jobs have been created in the private sector, Council Tax has been frozen for three years in a row now and mortgage costs are lower; the British economy is moving from rescue into recovery. We still have a long way to go, but, the fact we are keeping interest rates lower, fixing the welfare system and cutting taxes ensures all hardworking people benefit during this recovery period. If we spend, borrow and incur debt as previous governments have done, then it is the hardworking people who will incur higher taxes, more expensive mortgages and higher bills. Therefore, this improvement in our economy is incredibly encouraging.
Finally, last week I attended a meeting in Outwood, it was to set up a community-led group called ‘Friends of Outwood Park’. It is designed to be resident-focused and a way to make the best use of our parks in providing facilities people really want. There were some great proposals and I look forward to updating you on these over the coming weeks.