ES Views: Building more homes is the solution to the housing crisis

Under construction: there is a chronic shortage of new homes in the south east: PA

Simon Jenkins’s article about who lives in London conflates a number of issues [“If we keep on building towers, empty London will be a grim reality”, Comment, April 11]. Who owns homes in London, who occupies them and how many more homes we need is a complex matter.

Mr Jenkins seems to have confused anecdote with evidence and correlation with causation. Just because some homes in west London have their lights turned off on certain evenings does not mean they have been left vacant by overseas buyers.

True, there are some very rich people who own multiple homes across the globe and some of these are in London. It is difficult to establish residence patterns in an open society with freedom of movement, but what is known from research is that most homes bought by overseas investors are bought either as a primary residence or as an investment which is let out.

Trying to “solve” foreign ownership of homes in London will do little to meet the needs of those Londoners struggling to afford decent accommodation. The answer to the problem of London’s shortage of homes is simple: we must double the rate of house-building to support a growing population and help it remain a competitive global city.
Jonathan Seager, executive director of housing, London First

Simon Jenkins is right to draw our attention to speculative overseas companies buying up tower blocks in London and leaving them unoccupied. However, he seems not to offer much by way of a solution.

Surely there is a case for applying the law. Why not have a mandatory clause in deeds or leases which says the property has to be occupied by the owner? This would free up properties for local people and deter overseas buyers from getting involved, which would likely lessen the remorseless increase in property prices.
E F Chubb

There are so many new tower blocks going up around where I live in Kennington and along the South Bank. I rarely see anybody going in and out of them and no real sense of community is being developed.

These properties are too expensive for most south London residents. It also clear that some new developments are so shoddy and poorly constructed that there is no way they will last a lifetime. These developments may bring in extra revenue for local councils, but what happened to the authorities making decisions that will be of benefit to the people who actually vote for them?

The whole housing market in London is largely broken. How can we fix it?
David Smith

People must have a say on Brexit deal

Your report that senior European politicians are now calling for Britons to be given a vote on the terms of the Brexit deal is significant [April 12]. There is growing recognition on the continent that the British people deserve a say on the final deal.

Many people who voted Brexit did not expect to be yanked out of the single market, or to see EU citizens who have contributed so much to our society living in fear that they will somehow be sent “home”.

With real incomes now revealed to be in decline, and consumers suffering a Brexit squeeze of rising prices due to a falling pound, many will start to question whether Theresa May is right to pursue a hard Brexit.

The economic chaos and the diplomatic humiliations are not what Britain voted for. That is why the Liberal Democrats are pushing to give the people a say on the final deal.
Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington (Lib-Dem)

I am weary of the unabated negativity of your anti-Brexit correspondents. Of course the UK will experience difficulties as it leaves the EU but provided we are resolute in our determination to claw back sovereignty, we will find a way.

The vast majority of Leave voters did not vote for parochialism or worse. They voted essentially for two fundamentals: re-establishment of our borders and that our laws should be passed by our representatives at Westminster, not by unelected coteries in Brussels.
Geoff Tuffs

We work long hours because we have to

Phoebe Luckhurst claims London will not fall because “we work hard, we work harder. We work some of the longest hours in Europe” [April 12].

Many Londoners are working to live and not living to work. Most Londoners work extra hours for free and don’t do this out of choice. Businesses and industries may flourish as a result but their employees are rarely compensated.

Working hard is not a badge of honour; it is necessary for survival.
A Williams

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Government must act on air pollution

The Prime Minister is right to highlight air pollution as one of the country’s leading public health risks [“May highlights toxic air threat to young children”, April 12].

Research has shown that 40,000 deaths a year are related to air pollution, with eight in 10 caused by heart attack or stroke. Long-term exposure to the highest pollution concentrations can shorten life by an average of six months. People should not have to jeopardise their health simply by inhaling the air they have to breathe.

We are giving £1.7 million to fund research to find out more about how air pollution damages the heart and circulatory system. However, we urgently need a range of measures to tackle our toxic air. The Government is due to announce an air quality plan over the coming weeks and we are committed to working with it to make clean air a reality.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive, British Heart Foundation

If air pollution is now the UK’s fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity and heart disease, I have to ask why Theresa May is supporting the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Expanding this airport will only bring more passengers and freight vehicles into an already heavily polluted area.
Stephen Rush

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Orient's owner is ruining our club

Your article on Leyton Orient and the teenage team it fielded at Cambridge last weekend shows how its owner Francesco Becchetti has dismantled the club bit by bit.

One way or another he has got rid of every member of a team that was a whisker away from the Championship less than three years ago. Under Russell Slade, one of the best Orient managers in recent history, we were making good progress, but under Becchetti his job became untenable and he left.

Becchetti may have destroyed what we had but he won’t break the fans’ spirit.
Graham Goodall

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