by Colin Campbell
AS the election approaches, it’s worth remembering that Inverness MP Drew Hendry said during his tenure in office that the housing crisis was “the biggest source of casework” he had to deal with, other than welfare system problems. Is that surprising? The waiting list for accommodation in Inverness is so hopelessly long that many people have given up hope, and no longer even register.
The cost or renting even a tiny flat has gone through the roof. In Inverness, people are having to pay in excess of £400 a month for a single room.
Drew Hendry told of a home-seeking couple who had come to see him.
He said: “They found an overheated rental market with properties snapped up before they had a chance to view. Those they did see required a deposit and monthly rental costs much higher than expected – extra money they simply didn’t have even though they both work.”
Too many properties being left empty, “decades of under investment and the Tory policy of selling council houses” were mainly to blame for the crisis, he suggested. But the SNP Scottish Government was at least doing well in trying to deal with the situation. “Over the past 10 years we have seen enormous strides to increase the social housing stock,” he stated.
That’s how he sees it.
Quite a tale of anguish and despair.
There is, of course, another reason for there being such a shortage of housing availability in Inverness. But don’t expect Drew Hendry or any of the other leading lights in the SNP to mention it.
There are thousands of people from the EU now living in Inverness. No one knows how many but estimates have been in the 5000 to 10,000 range. The folk I’ve met are good, hardworking people who make a contribution to society and in some cases a very valuable one.
They have been made to feel welcome and have integrated well.
That’s as it should be.
But can it be denied that large-scale EU immigration is at least a factor in high rental costs, and related housing and accommodation problems besetting Inverness? That it might just have something – a very great deal in fact – to do with it?
The SNP now wants to wrest control of immigration north of the border to ensure “free movement” and a complete lack of controls continues in perpetuity. Anyone could come here anytime they like, with no checks or balances whatsoever.
And there would be no end in sight.
In these circumstances it’s scarcely surprising that accommodation is at a premium and rents are soaring beyond the means of even working people.
The SNP attitude towards EU migrants has been utterly cynical. They have sought to stoke up fears about non-existent threats of them being forced to leave the country as a result of the actions of the evil Tories, when there is no chance whatever of that happening. They have adoped the posture of the “migrants’ friends”. Hendry himself has held so many “reassurance seminars” that some must be worried out of their minds. What the nationalists are hoping for, however, is the support of EU migrants in the referendum they’re obsessed with. In Hendry’s case there may be a spark of genuine concern – but the support of migrants and young teenagers is what the SNP are going all out for. It’s a wonder they haven’t started holding local discos with Hendry as the DJ.
Fortunately migrants, and those under 18 – the vast majority of whom haven’t a clue about politics or the issues at stake – will not be allowed to vote on December 12, much to the outrage of the all-singing, all dancing SNP. But the nationalists are determined to get them on board for a future referendum, at all or any cost.
If it wants unrestricted movement for EU migrants in large numbers, the Scottish Government needs to build the houses that are needed to cope.
And build the schools.
And provide the health services.
But don’t try and shift all the blame on to Tory and Labour governments of decades ago.
Drew Hendry’s SNP has held absolute power for more than a decade and attempts to pass the blame on to Westminster when things aren’t going well are wearing very thin.
If you are stridently pro-EU immigration and aren’t building enough public housing – or anywhere near enough – cities like Inverness are inevitably going to get very, very crowded, with all the consequences that brings.
And no amount of weeping and wailing on their behalf from a local MP like Drew Hendry who wants ever-more EU migrants coming here is going to assist these folk.
When it comes to the desperate Inverness housing crisis Hendry and his SNP cohorts are the problem – not the solution.