Tuesday, 26 March 2019

'Is it time to pay attention to towns as distinct types of places - both as sweet spots for understanding political change, and as laboratories for social policy?'

Towns need help - and are getting some:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the Stronger Towns Fund

One problem is that towns are being neglected:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Britain's cities growing younger and its small towns growing older at a faster rate than at any other time in recent history
Futures Forum: Maintaining a balanced community in Sidmouth >>> "The town is not well supplied with facilities for younger people and the closure of the only nightclub is a loss."
Futures Forum: The South West: "This is where the young people are struggling to get on to the property ladder which is why towns are banning holiday homes."

And cities are getting most of the attention:
Futures Forum: Will the 'Future Places' programme for Greater Exeter "enhance people’s lives, improve community wellbeing and create sustainable environments"?

... whilst perhaps they shouldn't:
Futures Forum: Sustainable urbanisation: another oxymoron?

Here's a very critical piece on the phenomenon:
Is Urbanism the New Trickle-Down Economics? | Newgeography.com

Meanwhile, though, there is an initiative looking after towns:
Centre for Cities - Wikipedia
Centre For Towns - Home

And there's a particular initiative which has been looking after the town of Wigan:


Small things make a great deal - Wigan Council - YouTube
What is The Deal?
The Deal - wigan.gov.uk
Lessons from the Wigan Deal | The King's Fund
Wigan Council! What are you doing to our towns? public group | Facebook

Radio 4 this evening looks at what's been happening in Wigan:

Going to Town

In politics and in the national psyche, towns have long been sidelined by cities. Many feel that towns have been disproportionately affected by austerity, due to an urban-centric model that guides policy and the negative repercussions of globalisation and technological change. 

But almost half of the UK's population lives in towns and, as the Brexit referendum revealed, towns have the power to shape the country's future. 

Wigan has many markers of struggle — post-industrial decline, poverty, an ageing population — but it is upending the narrative of despair that often surrounds towns. When austerity cuts were implemented nearly a decade ago, Wigan council was among the worst hit and it had no choice but to do things differently and shift power into the hands of the community. In the years since, the town has seen improved health and economic indicators, and a more engaged citizenry. 

Professor of Politics Anand Menon asks if Wigan offers a way forward for towns across the UK. And is it time to pay attention to towns as distinct types of places - both as sweet spots for understanding political change, and as laboratories for social policy?

Going to Town - BBC Sounds
BBC Radio 4 - Going to Town

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