Each year I make ten predictions about the coming year for PRSD, a local news blog. You can read my predictions from last year here. So, here's my predictions for the coming year:
2015: A year of change
Cost of living crisis continues to bite. Despite assurances from the Tory millionaires in the Cabinet that the economy is recovering the cost of living crisis will continue for everyone else. People in Plymouth will continue to struggle with rising prices and low wage growth. And to our great shame as a city and as a society food bank usage will continue to rise.
2015 will be a good year for Argyle and about time too. As an optimist and an Argyle supporter I believe we’ll be playing League One football next season. Whilst the club may be going up I’m not predicting the new stadium will get off the ground in its current form. 2015 will be the year of a rethink at Home Park about the new stand and all the assorted other schemes James Brent wanted to cram into the Higher Home Park site. New plans have got to involve the fans more to propose a realistic and deliverable solution not pie in the sky proposals.
Interest rates rise. As inflation falls and unemployment falls (although we know the headline figure is only part of the picture) the Bank of England will put up interest rates. Whilst those with savings might receive a higher return this also means higher housing costs. People will cut their spending to afford larger mortgage repayments. Rents in the private rental sector will go up as landlord’s buy to let mortgages get more costly. After years of low interest rates it might be time to plan your household budget assuming an interest rate rise.
A very public divorce. As the General Election approaches the Coalition will continue to separate and try to disown policies they know that their voters won’t like. It will be like a very awkward choreographed ballet. The public know that most of the coalition spats are pre-planned and they’ll grow tired of Ministers positioning themselves for future leadership contests (Tory Theresa May and Lib Dem Tim Farron especially) at the expense of doing their job today.
Big changes come to Plymouth City Centre. The Civic Centre tower-block will get a new use and a new owner, Plymouth will get a new coach station and Bretonside Bus Station will get the go ahead to be turned into a new entertainment quarter with an IMAX cinema, restaurants and cafes. The area around the Market in Plymouth will also get a bit of long overdue attention with new plans but they’ve got to include local people and traders. All of this will be part of a city beginning to punch its weight.
Pressure mounts on Government over Plymouth’s rail connection. After the Great Rail Snub in the Autumn Statement pressure will continue to mount on the Government for a fast and resilient train line for Plymouth and the south west. Re-opening the Okehampton line won’t cut it. Further bad weather will highlight what a shockingly awful decision Ministers have made and why the south west desperately needs proper rail investment now. The Tories can spin away to their heart’s content once we have plans in place but until then the focus should be on changing the minds of Ministers who, to date, remain stubbornly opposed to addressing the south west’s rail needs.
Devonport gets a major boost. 2015 will see major changes in Devonport. The City Deal for South Yard will get off the ground with new jobs being created in marine industries and construction right in the heart of our city. The continuing regeneration of Devonport will also show Devonport has a lot to offer already - you can start by visiting the amazing Devonport Guildhall, walk to the Scott Memorial or alongside the Mount Wise pools. Have a cup of tea in Devonport Park, visit the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre, climb Devonport Column and rediscover Devonport. It’s about time too Devonport got more attention - let’s start with a proper ‘Welcome to Devonport’ sign to celebrate our heritage and history.
No place to hide. After years of refusing public debates there won’t be anywhere for Oliver Colvile, the Tory MP I’m running against, to hide. I’m looking forward to the public debates and being able to ask him why he supports the cruel Bedroom Tax, why he thought the Pasty Tax was a good idea, why voting for millionaires to have a tax cut helps Plymouth and why the Tories broke their election promises on the NHS. I have asked Mr Colvile on over a dozen occasions to debate these issues publicly and each and every time he has refused. The General Election year means he cannot hide anymore. Bring it on.
Students fight back. After the betrayal of the Lib Dems in 2010 students will take revenge at the ballot box in May. Lib Dem and Tory MPs who voted for £9,000 fees will be punished by young people who have also seen their EMA scrapped, housing benefit changes exclude them from help, youth services cut and their voices ignored by the Coalition. Labour will do well in student areas. Could Nick Clegg also lose his seat - unlikely but possible!
The nation decides. You’d expect me to predict a Labour gain in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport but I genuinely think this will be a election of twists and turns where anything can happen. There’ll be a lot at stake at the election and with a rising anti-politics sentiment candidates for all political parties will have to work even harder and knock on more and more doors and listen to the electorate (which is a good thing). 2015 is time for a better type of politics than we have now: more open, more responsive, less skewed towards the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, more co-operative and grounded in our communities not in Westminster. Whoever you support, please use your vote in May.
Content is cross-posted from PRSD. To view the original blog post click here.