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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 18 June 2007

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The Countryside is becoming the 'Theme Park for the Rich'

THE North's countryside will become a 'theme park for the rich' unless the government, local councils and other public bodies tackle the rural housing shortage, the National Housing Federation has warned.  At a conference marking 1 year since Elinor Goodman's landmark Affordable Rural Housing Commission (ARHC) report, the Federation will state that not enough progress has been made on the issue.

More people are pursuing an idyllic countryside life or are investing in a 2nd home. Local people are forced to move out of villages that are no longer affordable. 2nd homers do not contribute significantly to the local economy meaning essential services such as local shops, public transport and health care suffer.   New analysis from the Federation shows that the average house price in England is now 8.3 times average salaries. But in many attractive rural areas average house prices are more than 10 times average local earnings, including Berwick-upon-Tweed, Craven, Eden, Hambleton and Ryedale.

The ARHC gave a blueprint for solving the rural housing crisis last year. The Government has made some progress on planning reform, more needs to be done to release surplus public land for affordable housing. Too much is lying derelict or being sold off to the highest bidder when it could be used for urgently needed homes.  Further ARHC recommendations, including restricting the Right to Buy in rural areas and making it easier to bring empty properties back into use, have not been acted upon.

Derek Long, National Housing Federation Head of North said:- "The housing shortage is turning many parts of the North into a theme park for the rich. As havens for commuters and second home owners some villages are becoming winter 'ghost towns' and summer 'theme parks' with over 50% holiday homes. Key services are suffering and young people are forced to move away from the area where they grew up.  Housing associations can address the crisis but need support from the Government and local councils. Northern villages and market towns should be vibrant and sustainable places to live - not theme parks for the wealthy".


JUST 2% of the workforce in North West has pursued their dream job, according to research. This startling figure reveals a nation of workers that have compromised in their careers, resulting in most being employed in roles far removed from where they’d like to be.

The research, from business psychology experts OPP, revealed a number of factors that have put us off chasing the career we really wanted: just 6% of employees had tried and failed to get into their dream job. A lack of confidence and drive is offered as the factor that stops most of us in our tracks: 38% of employees cite it as the major influence holding them back.

A significant gender gap is apparent in deterrents stated, with three times the amount of women as men being dissuaded from their dream job by a poor salary.  The most significant knock-on effect of this is a nation of workers that are apparently unsatisfied and unmotivated in their careers, feeling they haven’t found their niche. Having set our dream careers aside, over 60% of us still find that our current career does not match any of our aspirations, and nearly seven in ten (67%) would choose a different calling if we could start again, with lack of fulfilment given as the key reason for change.

Lucy McGee, Head of Marketing at OPP comments:- “What’s surprising about these results is that so few of us seem to even go for a job we would enjoy in a vocational sense. A strong personal connection to the nature of a job is one of the central tenets to a happy and productive employee, and so it’s important that this is fulfilled. Of course, this isn’t the only thing tying us to our jobs, but it’s certainly one of the most important if both individuals and businesses expect to flourish long term.  More thought needs to go into the career paths we choose – if we’re not happy in our current role, there’s a wide range of things we can do. Working with your employer to identify your strengths and exploring which areas of work you’re best suited to can make a big difference. Various tools can help to do this scientifically, and can be used as a stepping stone towards changing your current role to better suit you or moving roles within the same company.  We can’t all be football players or write books, but going for a job which suits our strengths and preferences is the first step towards having a successful career.”

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