It’s great that Bridport Town Council has, for a third time, rejected the McCarthy and Stone planning application to build 38 open-market ‘retirement living’ apartments on the site of the Dorset Council-owned former Mountjoy School.

We have 30 per cent child poverty here in Bridport. Almost half of all children in privately rented homes in England are now living in poverty, despite seven out of 10 of their families being in work. The UN report into extreme poverty in the UK says policies of austerity, introduced in 2010, continue largely unabated, despite the tragic social consequences. Close to 40 per cent of children are predicted to be living in poverty by 2021. Food banks have proliferated; homelessness and rough sleeping have increased greatly; tens of thousands of poor families must live in accommodation far from their schools, jobs and community networks; life expectancy is falling for certain groups; and the legal aid system has been decimated.

However, evidence shows child poverty to be greatly reduced once genuinely affordable or social housing has been secured.

The lack of affordable keyworker accommodation in West Dorset makes it harder to recruit healthcare staff and care workers to the area, leading to bed closures, hospital closure and service reduction.

The West Dorset Local Plan states that despite giving over largely greenfield and AONB land to private developers to build 16,000 for-profit free-market houses, it will fail to meet the affordable housing need for the area. This plan is clearly not working for our NHS and social care staff, or for our children and local families.

It is therefore imperative that Dorset Council uses this public-owned, brownfield, land to provide affordable, social housing for local families and key workers as an urgent priority.


Chairman of the Bridport & District Labour Party