His say: Keith Rossiter: Bowled over by need for airport
I FOR one will not be sorry if England ditch Kevin Pietersen when they announce the Test side to tour India this winter.
The brilliant but arrogant batsman was left out of the team this summer after he reportedly sent provocative text messages to opposition batsmen about England team director Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss.
If ever the phrase "It's just not cricket" fitted, this was it. A side is entitled to expect loyalty, and it doesn't matter how good the batsman is.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is calling for a temporary "wealth tax" to help sort out Britain's deficit.
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No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the bleating started about how all these talented and brilliant rich people would leave the country. Good. Let them join Pietersen.
If they seriously believe that their wealth is nothing but a reward for genius then they are deluded and deranged.
Take away the Government contracts and subsidies; deny them use of taxpayer-funded motorways, railways and airports; switch off their broadband, and then let's see how much money they make.
If they cannot be loyal team players, then drop them. Life will go on in Britain and the queue of new young entrepreneurs to fill their boots will run all the way around several city blocks.
AS REPORTED in The Herald last week, Plymouth City Council is seeking radical ways to deal with an acute shortage of housing.
Nearly 10,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing and across the city development has either not started or stalled altogether on more than 5,000 new homes.
We beat our breast as a nation about the fact that we are now building fewer houses than at any time since World War Two. There are 4.5million people in housing need, and if only developers/government/councils would pull out their fingers and do more, everything would be OK.
(That 4.5million is remarkably close to another figure – and it's no coincidence. The UK population last year stood at around 63.1 million, up four million in the decade between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, an increase driven mainly by immigration.)
It is becoming obvious that, like Pietersen, property developers are not team players.
Unless we fall at their feet brandishing wodges of public cash, they are quite happy to sit tight on their yachts waiting for the boom times.
It's almost a decade since talk first began of building a new town of 5,500 homes at Sherford, east of Plymouth – and not a single shovel has yet gone into the ground. Developers' land banks across the city – and the country – are an insult to the homeless and those in poor housing. The average first-time buyer now is a shocking 38 years old.
Speaking to The Herald last week, Labour Cabinet member Cllr Mark Lowry called for "self-builders" to get in touch with the council. He wants Plymouth to copy the continental model, where something close to half of all housing is built by or for the owner-occupier. If local developers won't do their duty, then the prize should be snatched from their grip and handed to ordinary people.
ONE place in the city where we must not – ever – see housing is the airport.
Sutton Harbour Holdings shut the airport last December, saying they could not make it pay.
Some sceptics claim that it was always the company's intention. Call me naïve, but I actually believe Sutton Harbour's protestations.
Tudor Evans's Labour-led council gave them a real sweetheart deal on the land back in 2000, with an astonishing "Armageddon clause" in the lease apparently allowing them to sell it off for development should the airport lose money.
All Sutton Harbour needed to do was to sit tight for a few years and then point out that no operator was interested. Instead, they started their own airline, aka money-shredding machine.
But virtue is not its own reward.
Now Tudor Evans, back in control at the council, has established "five tests" for any potential airport operator.
Test #1 says they must: "Be able to acquire ownership of the airport and associated infrastructure".
Mr Evans goes on to make it clear that "if the private sector cannot deliver, possible future uses of the land to support jobs and the growth in the city's economy will be explored through the Plymouth Plan". In other words, sell it off for development.
This, to use an Olympic metaphor, is like a 100m sprint in which the starter uses live ammunition.
Mr Evans has carefully put a bullet through the head of any potential airport operator.
Sutton Harbour Holdings is a publicly listed company and has a legal obligation to serve the interests of its shareholders. Because Mr Evans has made it clear that if Test #1 is not satisfied then the land could be developed on, Sutton Harbour cannot sell the land for less than it might fetch for housing. If the company does, its shareholders will be entitled to sue for their losses.
Mr Evans must – if he is genuinely playing for the City of Plymouth team – make it clear that the land will never be given planning permission for anything other than an airport. Vivien Pengelly, the Conservative leader, has already given this commitment, though it took her a while to see the logic.
Plymouth may not need an airport now, but one day it will. The city has an ambition to grow past the 300,000 population mark, and recessions don't last for ever.
Meanwhile, there is no shortage of housing land – at Sherford, Plymstock Quarry, Millbay, Seaton and Derriford. If the developers won't build on it, then hand it over to the land-hungry people of Plymouth – they may not be pinch-hitting batsmen but at least we know they're playing for our team.