Devizes in Danger

Art, Cartoons, Soapbox

Digger Rage

I produced this drawing in a ‘white heat’ rage when I found out that farm fields around Devizes were now targeted for hundreds and hundreds of new houses. The total figure as it stands at present is 800 new houses.

Devizes is a small market town that simply does not have the infrastructure to cope with this. Since the 1980s lots of developers have targeted Devizes: Lovell, Wimpey, Persimmon, David Wilson, Crest… you name it. None of them have built anything that provides a benefit to the town, unless you include the eastern link road that provided a useful arc of land to fill with houses.

Devizes needs better transport links before it takes more houses. It lost its own railway station (and line) in the 1960s when the Tory Minister for Transport, Ernest Marples, owner of the construction company Marples-Ridgway – which was busily building motorways – appointed Dr Richard Beeching as Chairman of the British Railways Board. Beeching obligingly decimated the railway network which forced transport companies to use roads, and rail passengers onto buses and into their cars.

Fast forward to today. Devizes is only three miles from the Paddington to Taunton line, yet has no station.

The only decent bus service is the 49 Trowbridge to Swindon, which runs until 7.00pm. There is a limited service to Salisbury, a very circuitous and slow service to Chippenham and the bus service to Bath, which used to be good until last year, is now operated by a second-rate bus company using second-rate buses. Use this service at your risk: the drivers regularly exceed the speed limit, the buses are so noisy that ear defenders should be worn and the lack of suspension will jar your back.

Want to go anywhere for the day? You’ll need a car. Note: the whole issue of sustainability will need an entire new blog entry.

How has this threat to green field sites happened? It’s the ‘Con’ part of the Con-Dem Government’s “Thank You” to their rich funders, the construction industry. A “Thank You” that opens the flood gates to unchecked development, sweeps away all planning safeguards and tramples over the rights of everyone else. Rural Tory landowners are rubbing their hands together with undisguised glee. If you’re one of them, stuff the credit crunch and the recession, “You’ve never had it so good.”

It is being dressed up as the way to kick-start the economy and help all the young people get “affordable housing” (young people whose lives are already buggered because they’ve got student loans to pay off).

Build lots more houses? I think not. Please sign the 38 Degrees petition to Save Our Countryside.