From Mr Richard Darlington
Sir, - I thoroughly agree with the Bishop of Manchester's
comment on the Conservatives' right-to-buy policy (News,
17 April). This policy has been a disaster for low-cost housing
I was a local-government housing architect. In the early 1970s,
the council-housing waiting lists were getting met. In Derby, we
had to stop plans for new estates. The same in Coventry. Then,
after the right to buy came along, the waiting lists started to
grow again, especially once tenants were able to sell their
The enormous discounts mean that some ten or 11 houses have to
be sold to have sufficient money for councils or housing
associations to buy land and build one new one. If the politicians
want the right to buy to continue, then they should at least sell
at market value. Even then, a new one may cost more than the income
from one sold.
And there should be a clause that stops children and prospective
landlords paying for the house and then turfing the tenants out,
once the purchase has gone through. I knew of two cases where this
1 The Woods, Grotton, Oldham OL4 4LP
From the Revd Paul Nicolson
Sir, - I was the Vicar of Turville, in Buckinghamshire, from
1982 until 1999. I was there when they were filming The Vicar
of Dibley. There are 35 houses in this ancient settlement in
the beautiful Chiltern Hills, nestling in the under the windmill in
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The Church of St Mary the Virgin
dates back to Benedictine origins when it was owned by St Albans
When I arrived, there were six households renting two-bedroomed
semi-detached council bungalows. The Housing Act 1980 had
introduced the right to buy. One of those bungalows was sold to the
tenant for £25,000; when the time came, they sold on for £250,000
and moved to Australia. Another was bought by a local peer for his
servants. Now the bungalows are selling on for £500,000 or more.
Location, location, location.
The consequence is that families who rented for generations in
the Chiltern Hills have been pushed into the surrounding towns.
Vicars, farmers' workers, and the servants of the wealthy living in
tied houses will soon be the only poor-to-low-middle-income workers
left who can still enjoy living in the Chiltern Hills.
I now live in Tottenham, where the renters are in a majority of
58 per cent householders over the owners at 42 per cent, according
to the 2011 census. Renters are 33 per cent of households
nationally, and 47 per cent in London.
National policy from all the main parties panders to the
majority as owners with rising equity in their homes - either by
leaving renters to the whims of landlords and speculators in the UK
free market in land and housing, or tempting renters into owning
with offers to buy at below-market prices from which they can make
a handsome profit.
As a result, there is no coherent policy for secure tenancies in
which families can bring up their children with a strong sense of
community and solidarity with their grandparents near by; and there
is a desperately short supply of truly affordable homes.
Tenants in Tottenham can look forward to insecurity of tenure,
eviction, demolition of council estates, or dispersal to
who-knows-where. Home-owners will enjoy increasing value in their
homes until there is a collapse in the market as a result of
governmental failure to provide a just housing policy in the
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road, London N17 0BF
From the Revd Jonathan Page
Sir, - "Nearly half the Anglicans in the UK are planning to vote
Conservative in next month's election. . ." (News, 10
In the light of the House of Bishops' recent Pastoral Letter (News, 20
February), does this mean that bishops are out of touch with
their flocks, or are churchgoers out of touch with their
Christ Church Vicarage, Bridge Street,
Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1BA
From the Revd Dr Marcus Braybrooke
Sir, - Like Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 17 April), I have
voted Green in the past. Unlike her, I intend do so this year. The
Green Party recognises the real urgency of protecting the planet;
it opposes Trident; it insists that the Minimum Wage should be a
Living Wage; and its tax proposals will ensure some redistribution
To the defeatism of R. A. Butler, I prefer the optimism of the
Nobel Prizewinner Mairead Maguire, who wrote: "Dream the
impossible, then so live that the dream is fulfilled."
17 Courtiers Green, Clifton Hampden, Abingdon OX14
From the Revd Michael Camp
Sir, - Your report by Gavin Drake of words of encouragement
about supporting the Green party will no doubt have struck chords
with many Christians. It doesn't, however, mention the Greens'
policy on church schools: "ED176 No publicly-funded school shall be
run by a religious organisation."
Given that church schools are at the centre of the Church's
mission, that's a bit of a deal-breaker, isn't it?
St Peter's Rectory
19 Springfield Road, Poole, Dorset BH14 0LG
From Dr Jonathan Chaplin
Sir, - I am grateful to the Church Times for mentioning
the Ethics in Brief article on the Green Party recently published
by KLICE (News, 17 April). Your readers
may wish to know that it is one of a series of 13 articles
appearing since December 2014, offering theological reflections on
all the main British political parties, on the party system, and on
other aspects of the election.
These and other election resources are all available on our
Election 2015 page: http://klice.co.uk/index.php/election2015
Director, Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics
36 Selwyn Gardens,Cambridge CB3 9BA