Don Foster MP

Don Foster MP - 34/267 - Bath's #1 Supporter

Shared ownership can boost housing market in Bath - Foster

January 30, 2024 by admin in Don in Bath, News with 0 Comments

Don Foster MP joined a host of South West MPs and housing experts from across the region to discuss the role shared ownership can play in boosting the local housing market.

Over the last 10 years house prices have risen three times faster than incomes in the South West region and now stand at almost 12 times local incomes. With reduced mortgage availability and the need for huge deposits, more and more average and lower income earners are being priced out of the market.

Government projections suggest the number of households in the South West will increase by 30% by 2033, and National Housing Federation research predicts home ownership levels in the region will reduce over the next decade.

Government action is helping. The Housing Strategy announced in November 2011, included a raft of measures to help the market including:

  • Extra £150 million to bring empty properties back into use
  • Extra £500 million for infrastructure projects that will release sites for housing
  • £400 million as development finance to help small and medium building firms
  • Freeing up public sector land (suitable for 100,000 houses)
  • £30 million to help with self build schemes. And
  • Simplification of the planning process

However, in a parliamentary event, hosted by St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert, Don joined other MPs to hear how shared ownership can help further. A tried, tested and successful approach to delivering affordable housing, through shared ownership schemes South West housing associations are helping thousands of households turn their dreams of home ownership into a reality.

Commenting, Don Foster MP said:

“In Bath we are already doing a lot to make use of the government’s funding schemes with the support of Housing Associations and others - Western Riverside, Southlands and planned use of vacated MoD sites are key examples.”

“The shared ownership model - or “affordable home ownership” - schemes can provide a way of helping and local housing associations are already using this model for some new properties in Bath.”

“Further Government investment will unlock money that Housing Associations could find, create more jobs in the building industry and reduce housing waiting lists.”

South West Lead Manager for the National Housing Federation, Jenny Allen said:

“There is clearly huge demand for affordable home ownership schemes in the South West and we believe that greater government investment in shared ownership would not only represent an enormous boost to first-time buyers who are able to sustain home ownership but unable to raise a deposit, but would also help support and sustain a faster economic recovery.”

Jennifer Gould, chairman of the National Housing Federation’s South West Home Ownership Group (and business development manager for Magna Housing Group) said:

“We want to make sure that shared ownership gets the publicity it needs. It’s crucial to affordable housing and a healthy housing market.”

“By providing affordable home ownership schemes, housing associations are helping thousands of households to have of a home of their own and get their foot on the housing ladder.”

Don Foster: "Let Bath based gymnastics team compete at London Olympics"

January 26, 2024 by admin in Don in Bath, News with 0 Comments

In a letter to British Olympic Association honorary chairman Lord Colin Moynihan, Bath MP Don Foster has thrown his support behind Great Britain’s rhythmic gymnastics team’s bid to compete at the London 2012 Olympics.

The team, who train at the University of Bath failed to meet an arbitrary qualifying standard set by the sport’s UK governing body at a London Prepares test event. The team missed out on their target of 45.223 points by just half a per cent.

Don has written to Lord Moynihan urging him to reverse this “mean spirited” decision. The full letter can be read here:

24 January 2024

Dear Lord Moynihan

I should like to draw your attention to the recent decision to not send the Bath-based British rhythmic gymnastics team to compete at the London 2012 Olympics (I should note that I am writing in my capacity as their constituency MP, rather than as a member of the Olympic Board).

The decision comes from British Gymnastics and the British Olympic Authority, who agreed that in order to ensure the team was competing at a high enough standard to represent the nation, they would need to achieve a score of 45.223 over two routines at the London Test Event. This benchmark is 82% of the winning 2011 World Championship score.

The girls scored 44.950 over two routines on Monday and Tuesday, and 47.200 over two routines at Wednesday’s final.

Despite exceeding the benchmark by 2 points on the Wednesday, British Gymnastics has announced that a rhythmic gymnastics group will not be nominated for inclusion into Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

This decision is extremely mean spirited. The girls have demonstrated that they are capable of performing to the required standard, but because British Gymnastics is looking at a result from one day rather than another, they are being denied the opportunity of a lifetime.

I have seen the team in training at Bath University and was amazed by their commitment and dedication to their sport. They train six days a week and have their suspended A-Level courses to do so. They are also entirely self-funded; in some cases by their parents who have remortgaged their homes all so their daughters could show the world what they can do.

I’m sure you agree that the decision to not send the team to the Olympics over two tenths of a percent, when the benchmark was itself entirely arbitrary, is unfair and a needless waste of the talent that the Games are supposed to nurture and encourage.

In my view, this decision is completely contrary to the Olympic ideals. I would be grateful if you could look into this matter and seek to overturn this ruling so that the team, who have committed so much time, energy and money, are able to compete.

Kind regards,

Don Foster

Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bath
Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Culture, Media, and Sport Committee

New deal saves Post Offices in Bath – Foster

January 26, 2024 by admin in Don in Bath, News with 0 Comments

Post Offices in Bath have been saved by Liberal Democrat Business Minister, Ed Davey.

After ending Labour’s Post Office closure programme, which saw more than 7100 Post Offices disappear in their 13 years in office, Ed Davey has announced a ten-year deal between the Post Office and the Royal Mail has been reached.

In Bath, Liberal Democrats have long supported keeping Post Offices open for business. In 2008, Liberal Democrat Councillors led successful campaigns to keep open Post Offices that had been earmarked for closure in the Lyncombe and Newbridge wards.

The latest deal gives additional certainty to sub postmasters in Bath and covers the full range of Royal Mail products available at post offices such as first and second class post, parcels, air mail, recorded and special deliveries.

The deal adds to other recent progress for the Post Office, with extra Government cash kicking in, new national and local government contracts won, successful piloting of new models to transform many local post offices and improvements in financial services offered.

Commenting, Don Foster MP said:

“After years of Post Office closures under the Labour Government, it is excellent news that Liberal Democrats are doing the right thing by ensuring that the Post Office has a sustainable future ahead of it through investment and by brokering this deal with Royal Mail.

“Post Offices are a vital part of our communities and are the lynchpin of our towns and villages. More than 20 million people visit a Post Office every week to send letters to loved ones, to manage their finances or to renew passports for holidays and hundreds of thousands of pensioners rely on them every day for their pensions.

“Labour left Royal Mail in a terrible mess and it is Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government who have stopped closures and put Royal Mail and the Post Office on a secure footing. The 20 million people who use the Post Office every week don’t deserve anything less from us.”

Having previously led the campaign to keep Bear Flat Post Office open in 2008, Lyncombe Councillor David Bellotti , welcomed the news:

“Four years ago Liberal Democrats fought long and hard to keep vital Post Offices open across the city. Many people rely on Post Offices for essential services and I know residents in Bear Flat were absolutely thrilled when their local branch was saved.

“This new deal means that we will never see the kind of planned closures that devastated local communities under the previous Government.”

Commenting further, Ed Davey said:

“A year ago I set out a radical plan to transform Post Office’s future, with £1.34bn of Government support and investment but without any closure programmes.

“Since then the Post Office has made good progress to become more competitive, building on its strengths.

“While it will take several years to turn round the Post Office’s finances, it’s increasingly clear the reforms are beginning to work.

“The 10-year deal struck between Royal Mail and the Post Office will give subpostmasters and others greater confidence.

“The signs are extremely encouraging for the future of the Post Office.”