Right to buy, or right to a home?

One consequence of the recent general election result is that the Conservatives manifesto promise of a 'Right to Buy' for Housing Association tenants may now be implemented as a law.
Effectively, the proposal is that the government should be given the power to take housing away from independent charitable organisations, and give it at a discount to people who already have a secure home. This will make it much harder for those organisations house people who are homeless.
For us, the big question is will it affect Community Land Trusts? We simply don't know. There is a presumption that only recipients of government grant will be affected - but which grants? We have had CLT start up grant, which came from public funds in the first place.
Even if we aren't affected, it will create a surge in housing need that we can't handle. Housing Associations must be allowed to opt out of this policy if they think it would damage their ability to help homeless people.
Please write to your MP - here are template letters for the Somerset MPs.
Letter to Rebecca Pow (Taunton)
Letter to Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater)
Letter to Marcus Fysh (Yeovil)
Letter to James Heappey (Wells)
Letter to David Warburton (Somerton and Frome)
Thanks to the National CLT Network for their work on these templates.

Some news from our good friends in the Ecological Land Co-operative: "Greenham Reach, a 22 acre site near Holcombe Rogus on the Devon/Somerset
border, is now home to three small farms. Living and working off grid, the smallholders are currently growing a range
of fruit, vegetables, specialist salad leaves, mushrooms and herbs, as well
as rearing rare breed livestock for milk, cheese and meat.
Established by the Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC), this is the first
project of its kind and aims to prove that it is possible to create
sustainable livelihoods from small scale farming. If the project is
successful then the ELC hope to expand their model and create similar sites
across the UK, helping more people to set up their own small farms.
There has been international interest in the project and the site was
recently featured on Radio 4's Farming Today show. Plans are now in place
to start hosting school trips, open days and work weekends, as well as
short courses in subjects such as no dig gardening, fruit tree grafting and
herbal medicine.

To do this, the smallholders intend to turn part of their timber framed
barn into a meeting space - providing toilets and a kitchen area for
visitors. For longer term visitors and volunteers there will also be a
shower room and facilities to wash clothes.
The A-Team foundation have pledged £4,500 to fund these developments, but
only if this amount can be matched from other sources. In order to raise
the necessary funds a crowdfunding campaign has been launched on Buzzbnk,
with a range of exciting rewards on offer in return for donations.
To find out more about the project and the rewards on offer please visit Buzzbnk.
“Our vision is of a truly sustainable approach to farming and food
production: a world where small-scale ecological food producers form a key
part of vibrant, happy communities, and where people feel a deep connection
with the food they eat and the land that sustains them.”
Listen to the Radio 4 Farming Today interview here. For all the latest news and to keep track of our progress don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter."

On the national day of action for CLTs, we're open to applications for our first tenants

The flats are almost ready, and February 28th is a national day of action when we call on local people and prospective parliamentary candidates to get behind CLTs.
In Taunton, what that means is: if you are in housing need, or at risk of homelessness, or unsuitably housed (because it's too expensive, too small or just too cold) you should find out if we can help. Fill in our application form here - you can apply by Facebook message, email, or just drop it through the letterbox at 10 East Reach. You've got until Monday 23rd March, so don't dawdle.
And whether you're in housing need or not, check out the National CLT Manifesto here and ask your local candidates if they're going to support it. We will, and we'll let you know the results here soon...
Here is the press release we put out for the day.

Vegetables - and somewhere to cook them

The latest picture from the garden shows some early crops going in; I particularly like the elder branches providing a frame for the peas to climb.
 But what use are vegetables without somewhere to cook them? Well, the first kitchen has gone in to flat 3:
 And in case you think it's looking a little cold in there, the radiators and secondary glazing are also going in.