Petersfield residents have reacted angrily to the town mayor’s comments following the opening of the Hindhead tunnel.
The Petersfield Proust reported that Cllr George Watkinson believes the tunnel will increase house prices in the town, which will put it out of the financial reach of some people who want to live here.
He said: “The commuter belt will move further down which will make house prices increase. This is a disaster for Petersfield as we’re trying to build cheap houses for people who need them and increasing prices won’t allow this to happen.”
But Cam Payne, the chairman of inaction group Petersfield Residents Against Things (PRATS), insisted that was exactly what residents DID want.
He said: “The majority of our members moved to Petersfield for the very reason that they didn’t want to live with the working classes. What exactly is an ‘affordable home’ anyway? We can afford to buy houses in Petersfield and surely that’s enough.
“If they mean low-cost houses, well of course we don’t want them. That goes without saying which is why I’m saying it. If the council is so keen on having low-earners living in the town why don’t they have more Labour Party members on the council?
“They don’t, which speaks for itself and which is why I’m speaking about it. Of course the lower classes want to live in Petersfield – it’s a bloody nice middle-class town. But it wouldn’t stay that way if we let in tradesmen and shop workers now would it?”
Payne insisted his group was not comprised entirely of middle-class snobs and social climbers, despite their avowed intention to not allow any houses worth less than £500,000 to be built in the area.
“Admittedly many of our members are middle-class snobs,” he explained. “But to say that PRATS is comprised entirely of middle-class snobs and social climbers is forgetting Alan, who is a stockbroker and was born in Bordon.
“Indeed many of our members are against social climbers, hence the reason we wish to keep the working classes out of the town. But we are not anti-working-class per se. Many of us employ dozens of them and only this week I had two round all morning to repair the hot-tub.
“But if affordable housing means we would be forced to have them living in our midst then we are against the idea. They have to be realistic – after all, how could they afford to pay £3.50 for a cup of coffee every day.
“I think Cllr Watkinson has this one wrong, after all he is meant to represent the views of his existing ward, not those who might come into it if some unscrupulous developer was able to build a four-storey block of flats on a manhole cover.”