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One Policy Exchange idea sinks another

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One Policy Exchange idea sinks another

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities

One Policy Exchange idea sinks another One Policy Exchange idea sinks another

Alistair McIntosh, chief executive of the Housing Quality Network, on the worthy but muddled thinking of David Cameron's favourite think-tank.

Will no one rid me of this turbulent Policy Exchange? All I needed at six in the morning was Alex Morton on the wireless. I rely on Radio Two to rouse me with pleasant tunes by the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash. But there he was dynamiting council estates to make way for Nash terraces. Quick as a flash I got up to see if my council tenant neighbours were under the tracks of the Policy Exchange bulldozer. To my relief the Hilldrop estate was still in one piece.

I can see where the Policy Exchange is coming from this time. There are unpleasant estates in great areas. You could knock them down and start again. Life would be better for all concerned. Hyde has done a great job of turning the Packington around. The concrete is gone and terraces are back. I would love one of the houses.

You can only make these changes if people trust you. They need to be certain that they will still have a home locally that they can afford. The Policy Exchange is an obstacle in the way of change.

Pretend for one moment that you are a Tory councillor. You are a well intentioned person. You come up with a plan for the New Jerusalem on an estate. Chances are the tenants will say no. Why?

The earlier works of the Policy Exchange will come back to haunt you. Opponents will have a field day. Say no to change – the Tories want to cleanse rich areas of poor people.

It appears to be a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. One Policy Exchange idea sinks another. They need to get better at the basics. Make sure everyone on your side sticks to the story. The police service is great at this. Just ask Andrew Mitchell, the miners and Liverpool fans.

We could build a lot of homes and give people better lives if we did sort out some estates. This will only happen if the Tories bury the hatchet with tenants. No one will vote for change if they think they will lose their home. Anyone worth their salt will fight for their right to stay. They will stand their ground.

The shame of it is that there is no need for conflict. There is plenty of value in London’s council estates. Current tenants and new people could all be winners. Builders could get building. As ever tribal politics and snobbery get in the way.

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