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Let’s hope the House That George Built (partly) on Thursday was another brick in the wall of rebuilding our future prosperity

March 21, 2014
CEMENTING A RELATIONSHIP?: Chancellor George Osborne in Camp Hill. Picture: HM Treasury

CEMENTING A RELATIONSHIP?: Chancellor George Osborne in Camp Hill. Picture: HM Treasury

POLITICAL pundits are already calling the proposed new 15,000-home garden city of England at Ebbsfleet in Kent – George Town – following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Day announcement.

But don’t rule out the name being just as applicable to Nuneaton after George Osborne’s whistlestop trip to Camp Hill to cement the first building brick of not just a new home on the Saxon Rise development but arguably the opening salvo of the 2015 General Election.

And George Eliot’s birthplace, not too many miles from that famous Battle of Bosworth which changed the course of British history five centuries ago, could well be where the next tussle for control of ‘UK Limited’ is won and lost.

For there’s no doubting that Nuneaton – for all the rhetoric of being “deprived” and “impoverished” – is THE place that the country’s top politicians seem to want to be seen and heard.

Prime Minister David Cameron launched an election campaign from within the Warwickshire town’s ancient boundaries back in April last year while the Chancellor’s Thursday appointment as an apprentice brickie on Barratt’s 800-home development was his second appearance in as many months – the last trip being to Triton, the town’s employment figurehead.

Chancellor Osborne’s cloak-and-dagger visit to the Barratt Developments site was a cheeky act of brinkmanship – his arrival being confirmed only 24 hours before Thursday’s trip (arguably hours before he actually delivered his Budget speech on Wednesday lunchtime).

His presence caught Nuneaton and Bedworth Council’s Labour leader Dennis Harvey off guard, unaware of the location of the visit in the veteran politician’s own back-yard until after the Chancellor had high-tailed off back to Westminster.

And the tireless efforts of Pride in Camp Hill chairman Peter Young went unnoticed too.

Ironically he was on a family day out – visiting Earl’s Court in London for the Ideal Homes Exhibition – when aristocrat George rolled up his sleeves and laid trowel on mortar to help put down foundations for a new home on Nuneaton’s biggest housing estate.

The Chancellor, energised by his ‘working class’ Budget offerings, bounded round the Saxon Rise development – part of the multi-million pound Pride in Camp Hill regeneration scheme – espousing the virtues of an ideal place for him to start the job of explaining how the Budget will help people.

The Tatton MP chortled: “I wanted to go somewhere where I could talk about what the Budget meant for the country and I could think of no better site than here because of the jobs that have been created here and the homes that are being built here.”

On the back of this visit, Barratt Developments announced the creation of 3,000 homes nationwide as the Chancellor pledged a four-year extension of the Help To Buy scheme which is expected to assist another 120,000 families in the UK to buy a new-build home by 2020.

Mark Clare, CEO at Barratts, said: “The Help to Buy equity loan scheme has already had a positive impact on housing supply. An estimated 30 per cent of all new build homes in England are being funded through the scheme.”

So what’s suddenly so special about Nuneaton following its switch to Tory ‘ownership’ in 2010 after 18 years under the stewardship of Labour’s Bill Olner in parliament. Perhaps it’s always been important?

The PM and Treasury chief are commonplace now in the constituency as the Tories seek to win an overall majority in the House of Commons next time without the need for Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg’s coalition cohorts to prop them up.

Certainly Osborne left no stone unturned in praising the town, the developers and Nuneaton Tory MP Marcus Jones.

And the tell-tale signs of a forthcoming election are surely all in the Chancellor’s gushing quotes: “What I have found is such a strong local MP, always backing businesses, always seeking to create jobs here and, as I say, when I had to choose anywhere in the country to do my post Budget interviews from, I thought this was the best place.”

Far do’s to Labour leader Councillor Harvey – caught between a rock and a hard place over the visit – for accepting that the national coverage Nuneaton received was a “credit” to the town.

He was left to chide the Chancellor for choosing one of the most “deprived” areas of the borough as the location for talking up the rebuilding of a nation’s faith in its economic recovery.

Whatever the reasons for political pontificating and bigwig appearances, I’d like to think that Nuneaton, which has always been on the edge of greatness since its references in William the Conquerer’s Domesday Book of 1086, is finally going places in the 21st century.
With new educational academies; Nuneaton and Bedworth Community Enterprises Ltd being one of the first local authorities to operate a commercial business; plus MIRA’s technological blueprint for the future on the A5 – the borough appears to have a much bolder vision in place with transport the one sticking cog in the gearbox.

And ironically it has always been communication with its road and rail networks – and location – which has made Nuneaton such an important point on the map of Britain.

Geographically, commercially and politically – it is CENTRAL to everyone’s theme and thoughts, apparently.

So let’s hope the House That George Built on Thursday was another brick in the wall of rebuilding the town’s future prosperity.

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