Here’s an open letter to Edwina Hannaford, Lib Dem portfolio holder for planning at Cornwall Council.
Hope you are keeping well and surviving this indifferent summer.
You may remember that back in February I questioned your public statements that ‘the birth rate is outstripping the death rate’ in Cornwall. In reply, you said that ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and followed this up with ‘one year does not indicate a trend’. To back this up, you included an attachment, presumably provided by your planning officers.
In it, they asserted that ‘the long term trend here is clear; we have experienced a reduction in negative natural change across a short period’. Put more simply, they were claiming that the trend was that births were outstripping deaths. They went on to suggest that it was dangerous to take just one year in which deaths exceeded births to suggest their ‘trend’ had reversed itself.
They used mid-year estimates to illustrate this and these indicated just one year – 2012-13 – in which deaths exceeded births. I pointed out that, using more recent calendar year data, we had two years in which deaths exceeded births not one. However, this point was ignored.
As you will know, the 2014 data for births and deaths are now available, as are the 2013-14 MYEs. These show that we now have THREE years in which deaths outstripped births if we use the most recent calendar year data and TWO years if we insist on using mid-year estimates. This is of course, the opposite of the supposed ‘trend’ that your officers were identifying. Here are the data for the last few years. This table updates the one I posted here.
|Mid year estimates||Registration data|
Please take a little time to understand what these are transparently telling us. The demographic regime is reverting to natural decrease after a short period – in fact just one or two years – of natural increase. This was actually forecast by the ONS in their population projections but the period of ‘natural growth’ has proved to be a lot shorter than they predicted.
This is of course extremely important as the Government’s planning inspector examining Cornwall’s Local Plan is implying that somehow Cornwall Council is under-estimating housing need, based on these and similar projections. It would therefore seem imperative that your planning officers start to be a lot more critical of the ONS/DCLG projections for Cornwall. In this case, as in others, they are consistently exaggerating Cornwall’s forecast population growth, producing estimates that bear little resemblance to the actual outcomes. A more critical stance would surely allow the Council to construct a properly robust case for a less unsustainable housing target and give it potential weapons to use against the inflated claims of developers.
All the best,