Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on ructions in Rochdale, simple sums and how to lose an excavator

Rejoice, for the Government has announced plans to increase house building and all will be well. Except that, as we all know, it won't be.

Bang goes a JCB

Endlessly building more houses is a fool's errand as long as 700,000 more people arrive in the UK each year than leave. One of the tragedies of British public life is that our politicians attend some of the finest public schools but still can't do simple sums.

As for Michael Gove's plan to release more brownfield sites for city-centre accommodation, there are good reasons why developers are not keen. If you start digging foundations in a green field, you hit virgin soil and good, solid clay. If you dig into a derelict city-centre brownfield plot, you may uncover stuff dumped since the Industrial Revolution, from cylinders of cyanide to abandoned petrol tanks and vast, uncharted crevasses. There is no more dispiriting start to a building project than to see your JCB suddenly vanish.