ES Views: Two major factors that are adding to the housing crisis

London's housing crisis is showing nice signs of letting up: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Your two articles [“Eight out of 10 homes in flagship London schemes sold to overseas buyers” and “£2bn council sell-off will force out families and destroy community”, both March 3] show how Londoners are losing out because of politicians.

When he was Mayor, Boris Johnson mayor favoured overseas investment in London, believing it contributed to the capital’s economy. But a report by Transparency International shows there is a “high risk” that some of this money came via corrupt means.

While measures have been introduced to tax the purchase of property by overseas investors, this was done more to raise revenue than as a part of the overall property and taxation strategy.

Cllr Claire Kober, leader of Haringey council, is also misguided in believing that the best way to help regenerate the borough is to demolish council estates and go into partnership with the developer Land Lease, the firm which is regenerating the Elephant and Castle area.

Residents fear that they will be unable to return to the area and no absolute guarantees of that have been given by the council.

In both instances, these “high risk” policies only result in Londoners losing out.
Terry McGrenera, The House Party

Your two housing articles share a common theme: that the London housing market is not planned with the “jams” — those “just about managing” — in mind but is under the powerful influence of the “rams” — the rich and magnificent.

Foreign investors often do not live in the capital and thus their properties remain empty. And we have seen that many redevelopments involve buying out residents and building homes which are unaffordable for the local population.

Our democracy seems to work better for foreign investors than for the local population who voted the Government into power.
Derek Coggrave

Kate Proctor is right to say that Haringey council’s intention to allow Lend Lease to demolish council estates will “force out families and destroy communities”.

This will take place in the Tottenham wards of one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK. Electors were not told before we voted at the 2014 London council elections that up to 15,000 council homes and 308 small businesses would be at risk of being snatched from under them.

Since then, decisions have been processed through the council without the electorate being consulted. As well as fighting for the poorest land, and for tenants in the borough, it seems we are also fighting for democracy.
Rev Paul Nicolson

May's trade deal is in line with WTO

Contrary to Anthony Hilton’s assertions [“Disaster lurks in May’s empty bluff on trade”, City Comment, Feb 2], the kind of comprehensive trade deal that the Prime Minister is seeking is entirely in line with the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

There are more than 400 such arrangements in existence in world trade today and none of them have been challenged under WTO rules.

We currently have schedules of goods and services commitments, which we share with the EU. The simplest, fairest and most transparent way to do this is to replicate as far as possible our existing commitments and submit them to the WTO for certification — and that is what we intend to do.

Because we will be replicating existing commitments, the scope for other countries to object to certification is limited. But, if they do, trade can still continue on uncertified schedules.

EU trade has operated on this basis since the EU15 enlargement in 1995. This has not caused disruption to trade or prevented the EU from negotiating new trade agreements.
Dr Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary

Increase tax for tech companies

The planned changes to business rates will seriously hurt many small high-street businesses, giving the price advantage to internet sales warehouses, while local authorities treat parking as a cash cow, pushing the public to retail parks outside of town centres.

The Tories are very keen to clamp down on slightly lower percentage overall tax paid by small high-street business owners operating through limited companies.

Yet, bizarrely, they choose completely to ignore the minimal tax contributions — given their global profit and proportion of revenues from the UK — made by a raft of American West Coast technology companies.

There is an inexplicable blindspot to legal tax minimisation that is taken advantage of by the likes of Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook and Uber — and I very much doubt that the Chancellor will try to remedy it in the Budget.
Gerald Brawn

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Wood has become a much cleaner fuel

Following negative commentary on wood-burning stoves’ impact on London’s air quality, I must respond on behalf of the biomass and wood-burning industry.

In recent years our industry has worked tirelessly to develop innovative and efficient “clean burn” appliances which can already reduce particulate emissions by 80-90 per cent, compared with open fires and old stoves burning poor-quality fuel.

However, while advances are being made in particulate emission reduction and carbon saving, this good work can be undone by those who do not respect designated smoke-control areas, where it is only legal to burn wood on exempted appliances. While the legal structure of smoke-control areas exists, it is not well enforced or policed.

The task we are faced with is educating those with wood-burning appliances how to use them in a way that reduces particulates. With everyone’s understanding, modern wood-burning stoves can be part of the air-quality solution.
Bruce Allen, CEO, Hetas

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To little, too late: Sanchez was brought on during Saturday’s game but Arsenal still lost

Sanchez should not have been dropped

Player power rules the roost in football and managers have a tricky job to control it. But by dropping striker Alexis Sanchez after an alleged training ground bust-up, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shot himself in the foot.

Sanchez has scored 17 goals this season and the team suffer without his creative influence. The fans want him to stay but the club’s place in the top four is now under threat after losing 3-1 at Liverpool.

If Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions’ League, how can they keep hold of him?
James Cook

How could Arsene Wenger drop Alexis Sanchez, a truly world-class player, for the crucial game against Liverpool? I can only interpret this as the manager telling Sanchez he can leave at the end of the season.
Geoffrey Gilbert

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