Despite ongoing uncertainty on who is going to take over Ed Milliband’s recently departed leadership role, the Labour party has moved quickly to announce a new shadow housing minister.
Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has taken over the role as the party aims to regroup following its hugely disappointing performance in the general election.
Blackman-Woods hails from Northern Ireland and has been in Parliament since 2005. A sociologist with a keen interest in the housing market, she boasts a varied C.V. After being employed as a welfare rights officer at Newcastle City Council, she then took on a role as a university lecturer in social policy.
In the shadow cabinet, Ms Blackman-Woods has been minister for communities and local government. Additionally, the Durham MP has also been shadow minister for civil society and shadow minister for business, covering regional and economic policy.
In September, she told a conference designed for planning professionals that the Labour party was hugely concerned over the capacity of planning departments. In her address, Blackman-Woods said, ‘absolutely everybody talks to me about this, and so we really have to think and we’ve addressed this a little with the Lyon’s review of how we get more resources into planning departments so they are able to undertake some of this preparatory work.’
She continued by saying that, ‘I’m absolutely convinced that in the long-term, it will speed up planning because if you get consent early on, then we should be able to truncate some of the timescales in terms of getting planning approval.’
Labour have confirmed that Ms Blackman-Woods will be responsible for both housing and planning. In the past, Labour had separated these two positions.