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  • Conservative British think tank: Abandon Liverpool

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on August 14th, 2008 (All posts by )

    This from the Times:

    David Cameron has been embarrassed by his favourite think-tank after it suggested that Liverpool, Sunderland and Bolton should be abandoned because the North would never improve.

    The Tory leader, who begins a two-day tour of the North today, firmly rejected a report by Policy Exchange, which suggested that the Government should help northerners to relocate to Oxford and Cambridge. It suggested that Britain’s two university towns are likely to be able to “form the basis of strong, successful, substantial cities”.

    “No one is suggesting that residents should be forced to move, but we do argue that they should be told the reality of the position: regeneration, in the sense of convergence, will not happen, because it is not possible.”

    and this from the BBC:

    The Policy Exchange report said coastal cities like Sunderland and Liverpool had “lost much of their raison d’etre”.

    It said the largest coastal cities like Liverpool and Hull had built up for reasons that had since disappeared – like ship building.

    Policy Exchange, a registered charity, has been described as Mr Cameron’s favourite think tank. But Mr Cameron, who will be keen to minimise any embarrassment as he tries to gain ground in traditional Labour heartlands, distanced himself from the organisation’s findings on Wednesday, saying the report was “insane”.

    “I think the idea that cities can’t regenerate themselves, they were built for one purpose and can’t do another purpose, is just nonsense.

    He is certainly right about that. If those cities turn out to be unable to reinvent themselves, they are going to wither away in the long run, but chances are that they are going to be able to adapt and prosper. There are a lot of formerly decrepit cities around the world that have done just that. This think tank seems to have lost contact to reality.

     

    5 Responses to “Conservative British think tank: Abandon Liverpool”

    1. John Jay Says:

      I guess they’ve never heard of a little town called Pittsburgh

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      If those cities turn out to be unable to reinvent themselves, they are going to wither away in the long run, but chances are that they are going to be able to adapt and prosper. There are a lot of formerly decrepit cities around the world that have done just that.

      You forgetting about the creativity and adaptation inhibiting effects of socialism. Communities, companies and individuals adapt and prosper when forced to root, hog or die. If they are protected from this necessity of change by government support of increasingly uneconomic behaviors, then they will continue to follow in the ruts of the past.

      For example, when shipping began to die off. the first response of the people and government was to provide public funds (in many different ways) to support shipping. When the jobs dried up anyway, the government provides generous welfare so that people won’t have to relocate to other areas to find work. You also have a population of self-interested mandarins who view any major innovation with skepticism and who mire any change in years of debate, study and regulation. Eventually, you create a general culture in which people expect to just sit around and wait for the government to fix everything.

      From the report:

      Mass internal migration is the only answer to a decade of failed efforts to concentrate regeneration cash on other parts of the country, it says. Money being pumped into renewal projects and back-to-work schemes should be given directly to councils, according to local wage levels, to spend on regeneration measures.

      I think this is a good idea. Relocation is an important part of rejuvenation. If nothing else, it shakes up the local power structure and forces them to get serious about adapting. How successful would the recovery of the “rust belt” in American have been if people and businesses could not have left the area? Such migration in England is difficult because people expect to live their entire lives within spitting distance of the houses of their ancestors.

      In America, with our mobile culture, we see nothing unusual in the idea that people move away from an area when the jobs dry up. Europe’s tradition of immobility makes relocating harder and apparently, unthinkable to many.

      I do find it interesting that so many appear to believe that some magical combination of government actions exist the will revitalize the region with relocation. I think this says a lot about those people’s unconscious political assumptions.

    3. Steve Says:

      I don’t know…Harvard’s Ed Glaeser proposed pretty much the same thing for Buffalo, and nobody (except the mayor of Buffalo) got very upset….

      http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_4_buffalo_ny.html

    4. renminbi Says:

      Council housing (projects) are heavily subsidised and have long waiting lists-another reason not to move.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      Shannon

      I think this is a good idea. Relocation is an important part of rejuvenation. If nothing else, it shakes up the local power structure and forces them to get serious about adapting. How successful would the recovery of the “rust belt” in American have been if people and businesses could not have left the area? Such migration in England is difficult because people expect to live their entire lives within spitting distance of the houses of their ancestors.

      I wouldn`t worry about that. Once businesses leave, which they at least are willing and able to do, tax revenue will dry up and local authorities will have to come up with something new, or at least get out of the way when somebody else does.