A New David: The Journey to Beauty in Architecture

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‘The rarity with which the case for beauty is articulated is explained partly by timidity, and partly by unwillingness to challenge modernist determinism. The aesthetics of our built environment has suffered from the Cult of Ugliness. The overwhelming majority of public architecture built during my lifetime is aesthetically worthless, simply because it is ugly. Be warned! The descendants of the Brutalists still each day design and build new horrors, from huge concrete slabs to out-of-scale, rough-hewn buildings and massive sculptural-shaped structures which bear little or no relationship to their older neighbours. Consider swathes of the worst of our towns and cities, then say that I am wrong. Most of our urban areas are an ill-considered patchwork of buildings old and new. But which buildings, I ask you, will invariably be the shabbiest and neglected, the most disfigured by vandalism or scarred by graffiti? It is usually the relatively modern buildings – those built within my lifetime. We have had enough of the desecration of our towns and cities. Ours can be – must be – an age in which the aesthetic quality of the public realm soars. Let no-one say it can’t be done!’

The Rt Hon John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, and Her Majesty’s Minister of State for Transport;

Who is a member of the Conservative Party’s pro-faith, pro-British, pro-family Cornerstone Group;

Who is also a member of the pro-life, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-sex education, anti-same sex marriage, anti-assisted suicide lobby group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children;

Who voted against reducing the age of consent for homosexual sex from eighteen to sixteen; for the ban on the promotion of homosexuality in schools; against allowing same-sex couples to marry; against the hunting ban; for the repeal of the Human Rights Act; to remove the duty on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to support the development of a society without prejudice or discrimination; against making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste; and against allowing a terminally ill person to obtain assistance in dying;

Who voted against raising benefits in line with inflation; to introduce Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments and to restrict housing benefit for those in social housing deemed to have excess bedrooms; to cap any increase in discretionary working age benefits and tax credits at 1 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16; against those who have been ill or disabled since their youth receiving Employment and Support Allowance on the same basis as if they had made sufficient National Insurance contributions to qualify for a contribution based allowance; not to increase the time people can receive contribution based Employment and Support Allowance from one year to at least 730 days; not to make an exception for those with cancer from the 365 day limit on receiving contribution based Employment and Support Allowance; not to set the lower rate of the Universal Credit payment in relation to disabled children and young people at a minimum of two-thirds of the higher rate; to reduce the household benefit cap; to freeze the rate of working-age benefits; to remove the ‘limited capability for work’ element of Universal Credit; against making the removal of the work-related activity component from employment and support allowance conditional on an impact assessment and against requiring Parliament to approve details of implementing the change; to reduce the amount people are paid in tax credits; and to increase the state pension age;

Who voted to raise the income tax free personal allowance; to reduce the main rate of corporation tax from 27 to 26 per cent; not to halt further spending and welfare cuts; not to investigate the impact of austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality; against introducing a tax on bank bonuses to guarantee a job for 100,000 young people and build 25,000 affordable homes; against raising the minimum wage; against reintroducing a 10 per cent starting rate of income tax; against a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million to fund a tax cut for those on middle and low incomes; in favour of reducing the threshold for paying higher rate income tax; against implementing a series of proposals intended to reduce tax avoidance and evasion; against giving the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority duties to combat abusive tax avoidance arrangements; for reducing capital gains tax; to require a 50 per cent turnout in order to make a strike ballot valid; for increased regulation of trade union activity; to require the appointment of a picket supervisor and for them to be identified to, and contactable by, the police;

Who voted to support proposed reforms to the National Health Service, including giving more power to GPs to commission services and cut administration costs by abolishing Primary Care Trusts; to enable more schools in England to gain Academy Status; against requiring new academy schools to be built only in areas where there is a proven need for additional capacity; against requiring state school teachers to have qualified teacher status; to raise the UK’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year; to allow student loan interest to be charged at market rates; in favour of scrapping the education maintenance allowance; against greater public control of bus services; against slowing the rise in rail fares; against a publicly owned railway system; for the privatisation of the Royal Mail; and against plans to save the steel industry;

Who voted for reducing central government funding of local government; against a more proportional system for electing MPs; against a wholly elected House of Lords; for more restrictions on the activities of campaigners who are not candidates or putting up candidates during elections; against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly; against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament; and for a veto for MPs from England, Wales and Northern Ireland over laws specifically impacting their part of the UK;

Who voted for the UK to join the US invasion of Iraq; for the continued deployment of UK armed forces in Afghanistan; for UK airstrikes against ISIL in Syria; in favour of renewing the UK’s £200 billion Trident nuclear weapons system; and against contributing to the resolution of the refugee crisis in Europe;

Who voted for a stricter asylum system; for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities; in favour of requiring those based outside of the UK to comply with warrants to intercept the content of communications; for the mass retention of information on people’s internet usage; in favour of making it a criminal offence for someone to work if their immigration status prohibits it; to make it an offence to rent a home to someone who is disqualified as a result of their immigration status from occupying premises under a residential tenancy agreement; to restrict the support available to failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants; and to restrict the scope of legal aid;

Who voted against setting a decarbonisation target for the UK by December 2016; for selling England’s state owned forests; for culling badgers to tackle bovine tuberculosis; not to ban the exploitation of unconventional petroleum for at least 18 months and not to require that a review of the impact of such exploitation on climate change, the environment, the economy, and health and safety be carried out and published;

Who voted to require households living in social housing and earning over £31,000 in England and £40,000 in London to pay market rents; to extend Right to Buy discounts for housing association tenants; to enable the Secretary of State to require local councils to sell off high value council homes to fund this discount; to phase out secure tenancies and limit new tenancies to 2-5 years; to grant planning permission in principle to all land designated as ‘brownfield’ and require local authorities to identify more land as such; to set the rates of Local Housing Allowance that applies to private rented accommodation; for cuts in housing benefit for recipients in supported housing; and against restrictions on fees charged to tenants by letting agents;

Who in 2004 purchased a three-bedroom apartment in Westminster for £496,050, and until May 2010 claimed back £1,900 per month, and until September 2012 £889 per month, for the interest on the mortgage;

Who from November 2012 rented this apartment out for £3,250 per month until he sold it in June 2014 for £1,387,500;

Who since September 2012 has claimed expenses of £84,005 for renting a one-bedroom apartment in London;

Who has claimed £4,850 above his MP’s annual rent allowance to cover the cost of his two sons staying at his London apartment; 

Who in 2012-13, the year in which he voted for the bedroom tax, claimed a total of £169,474.50 in expenses;

Who since June 2013 has received an unspecified rental income of over £10,000 per year from an undisclosed property in London;

Who since 2015 has employed his wife, Susan Hayes, as an Administrative Manager on an annual salary of between £35,000-£40,000;

Who in the year 2015-16, in addition to his MP’s basic salary of £67,059.96, claimed £9,565.55 in travel expenses, £15,394.22 in office expenses, and £25,545.75 in accommodation expenses;

Who in the past two years has received a £20,000 annual donation from David Brownlow, CEO of the Havisham Group, a privately owned investment portfolio and trading group, and Deputy Chair of Huntswood, a consultancy firm in the UK financial services sector;

Who in his capacity as Minister of State for Transport this week delivered a speech at the Independent Transport Commission on ‘The Journey to Beauty’ in architecture, in which he concluded:

‘Now we have an opportunity to build on these all-too-rare successes, to make aesthetics a matter of public policy. No more soulless ubiquity. No more sub-standard, conceptually flawed buildings. No more excuses, in the guise of ergonomics, for an ignorance of aesthetics. What a statement it will be of the revolt against the Cult of Ugliness, of our new orthodoxy. We can and will turn back the tide. My certain conviction is unwavering: “We will beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly to new elegance, style and beauty.” So be warmed – or warned! – when I speak next I will set out when and how: how we will change what is built and what is saved – roads, rail and beyond. Some who did the damage to our country were crass and careless; but some wrought monstrous havoc knowingly, wilfully. All of them Philistines. Well, now the Philistines have met their David.’

Architects for Social Housing

Sources: TheyWorkForYou, Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

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