Essex: Curb the concrete, says writer Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer - Credit: Archant

THE journalist who coined the term “Essex Man” is urging planners and developers to stop the county turning into a concrete jungle.

Writer and commentator Simon Heffer believes the county council should stand up to national Government and fight against plans for more homes to be built in the county.

He said: “Essex is obviously an incredibly prosperous part of England and will continue to be prosperous but there is a real danger that you will destroy the character of Essex if you keep building here.

“How much more economic activity can we cope with? We’re already grinding to a halt.”

As for jobs, he believes the unemployment rate in Essex is so low, the county council does not need to attract new companies.

Instead, he believes the Government should use tax incentives to encourage firms to move to the north and the Midlands, where there is greater unemployment.

“I’m not an interventionist,” said Mr Heffer, who lives near Chelmsford. “I’m a free marketeer. But land is a finite resource, and I think it would be good if the Government used the tax system to encourage companies who want to site their businesses in Essex or the south east generally to put them somewhere else. We are full.

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“There is virtually no long-term unemployment in Essex, whereas up north you have 20% of people out of work. There are an awful lot of brown-field sites an hour and a half’s drive from here and the Government should be encouraging businesses to set up there.”

It was nearly 23 years ago that Mr Heffer invented the label Essex Man to describe the entrepreneurial sons of the county’s new towns who were then making a fortune in the City.

• The full interview with Simon Heffer by Pat Parker is available in Saturday’s edition of our sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times.