Liberal Democrats have over the years been in a position to protect Cornwall from the consequences of ongoing population growth and the parallel gentrification of the place, fuelled by massive housebuilding in order to accommodate (and encourage) in-migration mainly from the south east of England. Yet, when the Lib Dems were in control of Cornwall County Council, they steadfastly refused to force their officers to construct a strong case for fairer treatment for Cornwall. This was despite growth rates three times higher than those of England and four times those of Wales since the 1960s, despite the fact that housebuilding in Cornwall runs around 50% higher in relation to its resident population than in England, despite the reality that we’re losing our countryside at a relatively faster rate than in England, and despite the blindingly obvious conclusion that continuing such rates of growth is unsustainable.
While some Lib Dem councillors, such as Rob Nolan in Truro or Mario Fonk at Penzance have to their credit persistently opposed the imposition of unnecessary housing on Cornwall, others have equally consistently favoured excessive developer-led housing and population growth. For example, in Bodmin Lib Dem councillors have been to the fore in demanding massive housing growth, which could see the town expand by as much as 60% in just 20 years.
In addition, Dan Rogerson, ex-MP for North Cornwall, has admitted (on Facebook, 17 Mar 2016), that he has never made a public statement condemning the excessive housing targets recently adopted by Cornwall Council. In contrast, his colleague Andrew George regularly claimed the planning laws of his own government were akin to a developers’ charter, driven by greed, not need, and called for a much-reduced housing target.
So which do you get when you vote Lib Dem, the Lib Dem who favours manic housing growth or the Lib Dem who recognises its disastrous impact on our culture, landscape, environment and wildlife? The truth is that the Lib Dems are not so much a political party with credible policy positions but a collection of Independents masquerading under a party label.