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Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 26 June 2014


If you want to know what is going on in the House of Commons, ask a doorkeeper not an MP. Similarly, they say that much wisdom is dispensed by both taxi drivers and hairdressers – indeed, it is a pity that they are not running the country.

Last Friday I had my hair cut by my usual stylist who is in her early/mid-twenties. Our conversation strayed, as it usually does away from holidays and special occasions to issues of more significance. Her partner and she are desperately saving up to buy their first home together. All of her friends are in the same boat, either living at home with parents – less than ideal as adults – or renting in the private sector at substantial rent. This conversation was one of many similar ones I have had recently, confirming the statistics: there is a chronic housing shortage.

These youngsters are typical of many young couples today, who have been denied, through economic circumstances the joy and security of home ownership. This is why it is vital that we allow more house building to take place over the next five years. It is not for immigrants or asylum seekers – it is for our own young people, our sons and daughters, hairdressers, police officers, nurses and carpenters.

I was born in 1955. I bought my first property at age 24 as was normal in those day. On the advice of my dad, I took out the biggest mortgage I could get and as the years rolled by and the monthly payments became more manageable, it was time to move again. I have traded up 4 times, as many others have, so that for the last 20 years we have lived in a beautiful home. None of this would have been possible if I had not been able to get my foot on the housing ladder as a young solicitor.

The average age of home ownership is now 38. Not 24, 38. It is due largely to a housing shortage that has condemned an entire generation to live with mum or rent.

Many of us who have owned our own house for years would rather that the builders did not build on that nice stretch of green just around the corner. But new houses have got to go somewhere. We are just beginning to see light at the end of tunnel: the hope of home ownership for my hairdresser and thousands like her.

posted by Gary @ 11:38  



Thursday, 19 June 2014


I have no doubt that we should not have gone into Iraq in 2003. We were told that they possessed weapons of mass destruction and they did not. However, it is quite likely that even if we had not intervened, the Arab Spring would by now have created instability and possibly even civil war within that fragile sectarian country.

On the other hand, we had little choice but to go into Afghanistan given that the Taliban regime both harboured and encouraged the group of Islamist terrorists who planned and executed the attack on the twin towers in 2001 in which over 3,000 people died.

Sometimes it is right to intervene militarily to protect our national interests, sometimes it is not.

I recognise that, largely as a result of our Iraq and Afghanistan experience in the past 10 years there is no appetite in the UK or USA to intervene militarily in the Middle East again. This is why we did not get involved in the Syrian conflict, a decision reached after a knife-edge Commons vote last year.

I completely understand why people in this country do not want us to get involved.  The situation is complex, we were wrongly taken to war by a former Prime Minister and too many of our fine men and women were killed for little obvious benefit.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. It might have been wrong to go in in 2003, but it might well be wrong to turn the other cheek now. It might well be right for the West to take a stand in Iraq once again to prevent the lunatic, brutal and very dangerous Jihadists known as the ISIS from taking over that country.

It remains a complex situation and it may be more about tribalism and terrorism than religion. But can we really stand by and watch this group of highly motivated well-resourced Sunni Islamists realise their dream of setting up a barbaric Caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean to the Gulf? Wouldn't such a regime not just destabilise that entire volcanic regime but also be a base to launch terrorist attack after attack upon the West?

It is a painful thing to have to consider military action of any kind. Perhaps the Iraqi security forces will surprise us all and repel these insurgents. But sometimes we have to see the bigger picture and recognise the consequences if we do not act.  We must remain vigilant.

posted by Gary @ 10:21  



Thursday, 12 June 2014

I have now read carefully the damning reports by Ofsted inspectors into the alleged infiltration of certain schools in Birmingham by Islamic extremists. I strongly support the firm action now being taken by the government to place 6 schools into special measures. It is not acceptable for any group to seek to radicalise or indoctrinate our children with extreme religious views. Faith is a personal choice, normally arrived at during adulthood, and none of our children should be programmed to believe or act in a certain way as impressionable youngsters.
I suspect that we have had a narrow escape and that have nipped something in the bud before it had a chance to escalate and do real damage. Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to the educational establishment in the future to be much more vigilant. We live in a pluralistic society, with people of many different faiths and none, but it is vital that each generation is taught values that can help us live together in harmony and not separate and divide us.
The schools in Birmingham were not faith schools, but mainstream state schools, but this episode brings into sharp relief the role of faith schools in our country. Church schools are immensely popular with parents, who are often attracted to the underlying values that church schools espouse. Of course, they do not separate boys from girls, do not treat female teachers less well, do not have a hidden agenda to control their community or the decisions their pupils make. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of our church schools is their innate reasonableness, tolerance and inclusiveness. However, many opponents of religion would dearly love to rid our educational landscape of religious schools altogether and we must make sure that the events in Birmingham do not give them ammunition to throw the baby out with the bath water.
There is a clear way forward and it is a system that is already supposed to be in place. All schools are supposed to teach the national curriculum and be open to Ofsted inspection.  All schools are supposed to hold predominately Christian assemblies and teach about all world faiths. They are supposed to prepare pupils for life in a modern tolerant pluralistic Britain. In future where we even suspect that this is not happening we must be swift to act.
It is time to be more robust with minority groups that seek to undermine our way of life.

posted by Gary @ 09:36  



Thursday, 5 June 2014


I had a briefing last week from both the district council and the developers of the new town at Sherford (between Plymstock and Plympton) and thought I should update you, as this will be a significant addition and alteration to our area. First news: It is all going to happen!

The three main house builders have been contracted: Bovis, Linden and Taylor Wimpey. A planning panel has been set up to oversee design and construction. The land has been purchased and initial site preparation has already begun.
The main army of bulldozers will be on site later this year. It is estimated that the first houses will be out of the ground and ready for purchase or rent next August 2015. As I have felt for some time, it is going to be a fabulous place to live.

The new town will be built in phases, the first section being the south west corner of the site, the Elburton end.
This will comprise in the region of 1100 homes. A primary school will be constructed as part of the first phase, as well as other communal facilities, including a new sports centre. It is now likely that the secondary school will await a later phase of development, as there will remain spare capacity in existing adjoining secondary schools for the first few years. A high street with shops will quickly be added and hopefully the designer's vision of a self-contained and sustainable community will ultimately be realised.

The project will take many years to complete and will create hundreds of new jobs during its construction phase. When it is finished there may well then be a significant extension back towards the city on the other side of Haye Road. This will together accommodate a large proportion of the housing needs of local people. Although in the first phase the numbers of affordable houses (to rent and buy) will be less than 20%, this proportion will grow as the town takes shape. Market value properties and affordable homes will be built to the same high design specification.
Sherford will help to meet the undoubted pent up demand of many families currently in rented accommodation who have been waiting for a chance to own their own home.

There will be disruption, that is inevitable and hopefully this will be kept to a bare minimum by strong management. But Sherford will provide homes for local people that are desperately needed.

posted by Gary @ 13:40