Brexit to the left – Local Elections to the right

We find ourselves living in ‘interesting times’. There is no question we would like to be living in markedly less interesting ones, but there is little we can do about it!

In the midst of debates about our place on the world stage and the impacts of the global economy in the face of Brexit, a huge swathe of the country are set to go to the polls. That in itself can threaten stasis – do we simply operate a wait-and-see approach – or get on with it? Over 270 councils, quite literally thousands of candidates are vying for air-time, campaign issues and fundamentally votes. A few brave and outspoken councillors speak up for development, speak out in favour of economic investment and transformation by embracing a new tomorrow.

However, the sad reality is many many more will simply choose the easy route – fuelling NIMBY energies – luddite like in their opposition to an economic future powered by the metrics of regeneration, investment and housebuilding. Those whom have served as councillors, find themselves honour bound not to pick up the NIMBY standard – as yet unsuccessful candidates fight the good (but rarely effective) fight and lead the charge against development and allocations.

The reality however, is that local authorities across the country are becoming more pragmatic, not less. Candidates who have campaigned in poetry – now find themselves required to govern sensibly in prose. Over years of service they develop a real understanding of the planning system, fundamentally underpinned by the presumption in favour of development enshrined within the NPPF. For those seeking to maintain objection or rejection, their greatest tool has become obfuscation and delay – they know they will likely lose out to the Planning Inspector, but they can drag their heels!

I’ve had the pleasure of being a candidate, never the honour of serving as an elected member. With almost twenty years experience working in politics and property I can testify that our working environment has changed. We are working across the country in local authorities spanning every type of behaviour; from the genuinely hungry, development friendly officers and members to the ones who only really answer the phone in order to hang up in indignation. We thrive on understanding the drivers for councillors, the intricacies of their wards, election cycles and it’s fair to say we even enjoy speculating on the risky business of ‘fortune-telling’ of election results.  

Elections (or even Brexit negotiations) don’t need to be a period of waiting for outcomes, it’s an ideal time to crack on. We would be happy to provide a little insight or offer some advice – just drop us a line.

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Andy Martin

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