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The bigger picture

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet…However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up”

I was going to write about Teresa May’s pronouncement’s last week on the housing market. After all, she did talk quite a lot of sense in her speech.

For example on planning: “When people oppose large-scale development in their area, it’s often because they’re worried their village or town simply won’t be able to bear the weight of hundreds of new arrivals. Their schools are already full, their roads are already congested, and the waiting list at their GP is already too long. They want to know that any new homes will be accompanied by appropriate new facilities and infrastructure. Under our new planning rules, that’s exactly what will happen. And local communities will be put at the heart of the planning process by seeing to it that all areas have an up-to-date plan. Absolutely. People need to know that local service and infrastructure, already under pressure, aren’t going to be stretched beyond coping by new housing developments, no matter how badly they’re needed.

And also on actual building as opposed to planning: “Yet … a well-designed local plan won’t keep your children safe and warm at night…While planning reform is part of the answer, all the evidence shows that just reforming planning and expecting the existing developers to build all the homes we need is pie in the sky…The Government must also step in if homes are going to get built. So we’re committing at least £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support our housing market. We’ve changed the rules so authorities facing the greatest affordability pressures can access the finance they need to build more council homes for local people.” Hurrah, a government in talking sensibly about housing action shock.

Then I thought that, with my phone red-hot this morning with people telling me about Parker Building Supplies’ sale to Cairngorm Capital, perhaps I ought to write about that. After all, such is the way with independent businesses: none of us are getting any younger and many owners do, understandably, want to move on, to enjoy the fruits of their labours. When you’ve grown the business so successfully to the size it currently is, you are probably more likely to sell to a finance concern like Cairngorm than a competitor.

I think it’s heartening that in a brief a chat with Cairngorm today, they told me that the group had been looking to add a builder’s merchant like this to their portfolio for some time. Good news that the sector is still seen as worth investing in.

Then, of course, I thought perhaps I ought to write something encouraging you, dear, dear readers, to vote in your droves for your favourite people, brands and businesses in our BMJ Industry Awards – the only awards which are decided by the industry. The list of nominations is here and you can vote on the awards website here  and download a form to book places or tables at the awards lunch here.

But I turned on the radio this morning and thought maybe I should take a step back and write about something bigger than our little UK-housing-related-world and mention the man who inspired so many to want to find out about the universe. The cleverest man of our times, who didnt take himself too seriously. The man who did so much to make science cool. The man who defied the odds and was the exception to the rule when it comes to Motor Neurone Disease, a horrific disease which kills one third of those diagnosed within a year and half within two years. When you look up at the stars tonight, try and spot the new one that’s shining especially brightly and then donate to the Motor Neurone Disease charity.

RIP Professor Stephen Hawking, the coolest scientist in the universe.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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