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.