Parliament has just gone into recess. It is fairly common for government to put something out in the last days hoping it will slip quietly under the radar. So it was this end of term.

On July 23 Secretary of State Robert Jenrick slid the Government’s fourth revision to the National Planning Policy Framework into public view.

The significance of this was that this was only days after this newspaper printed a letter from our MP announcing that contrary to the Mayor and council’s interpretation of the third version of the NPPF (and everyone else I know in the planning world!) housing targets are somehow now negotiable and if only we can produce enough evidence, government will lower Watford’s targets and take the pressure off to “ Build Build Build” .

This is a disingenuous argument. It is like saying that Boreham Wood Football Club could win the FA Cup. Theoretically and technically possible but very highly improbable, and you can’t base your local plan on such odds.

This new version of July 23 further smashes his arguments.

For the really interested do read Paragraphs 60 to 80 which address ‘Delivering a sufficient supply of homes’.

Paragraph 61 is particularly pertinent.

In short it says that, according to government data and algorithms, Watford is a popular place to live with a growing population and high house prices thus proving that there is massive unmet housing demand – so you’re stuffed - you get the high targets. Much of Hertfordshire and the south east fall into this category, hence the rebellion by rural Tory MPs in the summer.

Incredibly, it also suggests that councils who feel they cannot meet their needs look to neighbours to ask them to help. Watford has already done that to no avail (who can blame them, they are in the same boat!) but perhaps Mr Russell has already spoken to colleague Oliver Dowden MP and can share his thoughts on Hertsmere picking up some of our housing need as suggested by their government in those paragraphs.

An honest approach would be to acknowledge that, regardless of party, whoever is in power at a local level is grappling with this and not try to pass the political buck. Perhaps even try to articulate your government’s views and aspirations.

After all a major housebuilding programme and serious reform of the planning system was the platform that all Conservative MPs were elected on.

Though the reality of putting those policies into practice appears only just to be dawning on some.

Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE