Letters: A policy for building rabbit-hutch homes

These letters appear in the June 20 issue of the Independent


Jonathan Brown’s otherwise excellent article on “rabbit-hutch Britain” (18 June) omitted some of the major reasons for the underlying trend of building smaller houses.

As a councillor dealing with planning applications, I regularly see plans for mixed development of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes being crammed on to ever smaller sites by developers to maximise profit.

The Government’s planning guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework encourages this high-density building to meet the housing needs of the future. The result of these two factors is rabbit-hutch houses that are built too close together, with pocket-handkerchief gardens that are not suitable for families.

This is not a recent problem. My own home, built in the late Sixties, is nominally a three-bedroom house, but in reality the third bedroom is barely able to accommodate a bed and wardrobe for my adult son. As more adult children, unable to buy or rent a home of their own, stay in the family home, we need bigger rather than smaller rooms in our homes.

I would support a minimum room and garden standard in new developments that can be enforced by planning authorities, but I suspect that such a policy would not be popular with developers or with the Government.

Debbie Boote



A family flat has three bedrooms, one for mum and dad and one each for the two teenage children coping with homework and puberty.

Here in London the rent being asked for these flats by such as my landlord, the philanthropic Peabody Charitable Trust, is proving to be too much for a couple of key workers with kids. They can only be afforded by three working adults living in multiple occupancy. This deprives our communities of the balance of young and old and it deprives hardworking families of family homes.

Nik Wood

London E9


Our unfair system of education

Alan Bennett’s premise that private education is unfair, and promotes an unfair society, sounds simple enough, as most truths are (The Big Read, 19 June). My father, who died a year ago, always said that in order to move forward we had to nationalise the banks, and remove private education.

I managed to pass my 11-plus, went to a state grammar school (patchy teaching, not at all as wonderful as some people would have you believe), and was told to apply for Oxbridge. I immediately thought: “No, it’s not for people like me, from a Cardiff council estate.”

So I went  to Leeds University, and the first 10 men I met there were public school boys. And I thought by going to Leeds I was at least going to be with likeminded people. Ha! And they were the ones who hadn’t even managed to get into Oxbridge.

Alan Bennett is right, the education system is unfair, and I have tried to spend the last 32 years righting that wrong, working of course, in the state sector. Not very effectively, it feels, as it remains as unfair as it ever was, much to our shame.

Lin Hawkins

Ashcott, Somerset


Lib Dems did their duty to the country

I recently stood as a candidate in the local elections for the Liberal Democrats. What struck me when out canvassing was how many people still blame the Lib Dems for tuition fees, even though they are the only major party opposed to them.

The fact that the Labour Party freely chose to break the principle of free education and set the precedent of tuition fees seems forgotten. They also set up the commission into university funding which reported in the first months of the Coalition recommending a virtual free market in fees, which no doubt would have led to a situation where only the children of the rich could attend Russell Group universities.

It was the Liberal Democrats, with only 65 MPs, who stopped that and changed the whole structure of fees so that even though the headline debt tripled the repayments were reduced. This has led to a larger number of students coming from low income families than ever before.

Of course a pledge was made and broken. They could have opted out of the Coalition, and left it to the Tories to form a minority government with the Ulster Unionists. However they knew that to keep the economy afloat the Government would have to keep borrowing. It’s unlikely an unstable minority government would have been able to keep borrowing at AAA rates. The Tories at the mercy of their own Tea Party faction would have been forced to slash and burn the welfare state, feeling fully justified in doing so.

The nation’s debt levels are astronomical. We could easily have had a depression on the scale of the 1930s. The fact that we haven’t is down to the stability of the Coalition. That the Liberal Democrats put the interests of the country before the interests of their party is why I still support them.

Alan Juriansz

Twickenham, Middlesex


Have we forgotten how to be British?

Two years ago the Olympics legacy was supposed to have united us as one nation. Now, after such a short time, the Government has to start all over again by telling us how to be British. What happened? Perhaps relocating the World Cup from Qatar would help for a week or two.

Len Jones

Congleton, Cheshire


So 95 per cent of Britons think that to be British you have to speak English (“Graduates four times more likely to back immigration”, 17 June). This seems distressingly restrictive. Is there no room for Welsh? Let alone Gaelic, Manx, Cornish? Have we really become so narrow minded?

Michael O’Hare

Northwood, Middlesex

Have you queued for a bus lately? In London, at least, an amorphous crowd forms, from which the most assertive compete to barge on first. If an orderly queue is an index of Britishness, I fear we are no longer British.

David Ridge

London N19


Greetings from the Black Country

As an incomer to the Black Country thirty years ago I observed the term “Ow bist” used as a greeting, in use along with many other terms such as “am” for  “are”, and “we” instead of “us”. This transforms, locally, the name of a well-know toy chain store into “Toys am we”.

Vaughan Thomas

Usk, Gwent


Moment of glory  for England

My favourite moment in the World Cup (Grace Dent, 17 June) was when Sturridge scored for England.

I jumped in the air, ran into my garden shouting “Gooooooooal!” in the dark – and fell into my pond. Magic.

Stan Labovitch



British jihadists ‘walk through’ airports

Concerns, recently articulated by David Cameron, referring to the number of UK and UK-based jihadists training and fighting abroad have been expressed by Special Branch and counter-terrorist officers for many years.

In 1995 at Heathrow I stopped two British passport holders who arrived from Pakistan, and the chilling documentation in their possession showed clearly that they had been comprehensively terrorist-trained.

Intelligence poured into Special Branch clearly illustrating the scale of the problem, yet in 1998 Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, to the fury of police and immigration officers, abolished embarkation (departure) controls.

That means that even in today’s world, ridden with terrorism, 99 per cent of passengers will board flights in the UK without passing under the eyes of any UK law-enforcement officer.

The saving was £3m a year and successive Home Secretaries have ignored pleas for these controls to be reintroduced.

Former colleagues I have spoken to believe that despite the increasing number of arrests of returning jihadists, it is generally far too easy for most of these individuals to enter and leave the UK. As one despairing officer told me it’s a “walk in the park” and most trained UK jihadists remain below the intelligence radar.

Instead of shredding the morale of the police service, who of course will be in the front line when the predicted jihadist attack occurs, today’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, should listen to front-line counter-terrorist and Border Force officers and strengthen our borders.

Chris Hobbs

London W7

The writer was formerly an officer with the Metropolitan Police Special  Branch


It seems that David Cameron, the “heir to Blair”, is aping his hero in trying to stun the public into compliance with his paranoid policies (“Isis extremists plan to attack us in the UK, warns Cameron”, 19 June).

Only the “within 45 minutes” was missing.

Eddie Dougall

Walsham le Willows,  Suffolk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Support Analyst - Level 2

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of financial software so...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing / Sales Co-ordinator - OTE £25,000+

£10000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of staffing and r...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen Porter

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court is seeking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A memorial to the1982 war between Great Britain and Argentina in Buenos Aires  

Argentina poses no military threat to the Malvinas Islands. So why is the UK ratcheting up tension?

Alicia Castro

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?