14 NOVEMBER 1958, Page 24

SIR,—If Mr. Hodge's telescope is the wrong way round, I

feel Mr. Wyndham Thomas must have polarised glass in his, in the sense that he may be seeing the problem of overspill large (too large), but he is seeing nothing else.

New and expanded towns—agreed; but not indis- criminately, not where they will upset an existing balanced, smooth-running community, not in the teeth of the existing inhabitants. The overspillees are to be 'encouraged, not compelled'; why should the 'rural backwoodsmen' only be offered compulsion? And Alresford seems to me to be the copybook case for not expanding—it is small, compact, not de- pressed or running down, far too near the proposed parent towns (Southampton is only fifteen miles away, so that this is little short of sprawl under s more genteel name). Above all, it is in the absurdly overcrowded part of South-East England that it already so ' thick with other people's overspills' voluntary and involuntary, that they are beginning t° run together into a characterless semi-urban gruel. Ironically, the proposed site for the LCC's new town is only fifteen miles away also; by the time these little fleas all have lesser fleas the countryside really will have disappeared. I have just been walking around a town (Lowestoft) with enough vacant lots to take a new town inside the existing built-up boundaries and with just that sort of dependence on one industry that might make it glad of the chance to take new industry and people and consequently money. I think there are towns ilke this all over the provinces, well away from South-fag' England : the fishermen of Peterhead and the tin,' plate workers of Gorseinon might well agree Wit' me. These are the sites for the new towns and the expanded towns—half-built, ugly and often needing rebuilding anyhow. Our second industrial revolution must come to the aid of the remains of the first, So whilst Mr. Thomas may be right in general' I am absolutely sure that Mr. Hodge is right in Par" ticular. And if, being right, he gets angry, who can blame him?—this does not make him into some kiLd of progress-hating peasant. How about throwing the telescopes away altogether, and simply looking al people life-size instead.—Yours faithfully,


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