Build on the social aspect of towns

By Dan Corry | 05 February 2020
  • Dan Corry

The 2019 General Election has catapulted towns, especially those in the so-called Red Wall of former Labour strongholds, to the forefront of the national conversation. Some of what is being said is interesting, and some of the work that has been done (including much before the election) is good. Unfortunately though, a lot of the analysis is rather superficial. There are a few different strains of thought that seem wrong-headed, united by the fact they miss the role of social capital in restoring some verve to these places.

One strand seems to treat the problem as if no one has ever thought about it before. The reality is there is a long history of efforts to help revive towns whose economic reasons for existence have drifted away. I have been involved in some including the Heseltine Garden Festivals of the late 1980s to the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Coalfield Communities of the Labour years. The story is long and mostly unsuccessful. Ignoring the past may mean we are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over.

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