UK academic and activist Rupa Huq has written a new book about her findings in the suburban communities of England. She seems to have come across a whole lot of everything out there: poverty, prosperity, change, stasis, extremism, apathy, the newer and the oldish at the same time. She talked about her subject for a video clip on the Guardian website. Ms. Huq’s interest in what is happening in England’s suburbs was fueled in part by a desire to understand how suburban social change interacted with last year’s rioting and the 7/7 terror attacks. Not all the comments are in agreement with Ms. Huq but we found her words of interest when thinking about conditions in North America.
“It’s suburbia, stupid.” …this must surely be suburban-poverty.com’s quotation of the year.
Rupa Huq: ‘The next election will be won and lost in suburbia’
image: semi-detached houses near Birmingham, geograph.co.uk via Wikimedia Commons
Liverpool’s struggles, its decline as a seaport and manufacturing centre, followed by the mixed results of the Thatcher era is a generation past now. This item from The Independent seems to indicate new difficulties already well on the way.
In the working class suburbs of Liverpool the battle with poverty is very real: Jerome Taylor meets the people faced with the fallout of the Government’s cuts every day
image: detail of map from Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885–90) via Wikimedia Commons.
This London School of Economics briefing paper looks ahead to 2016 and serious increases in the unaffordability of housing in both inner and outer London. Among the findings: “A majority of people in poverty in London now live in outer London. Ten years ago they were evenly split between inner and outer. In addition, across London, in-work poverty has risen over the last decade while out of work poverty has fallen. As a result, half of children in low-income households in London are in working families.”
Poverty and inequality in London: anticipating the effects of tax and benefit reforms .pdf file
We find resources for the discussion at hand on the intertube pages at Atlantic Cities again and again. A youngish writer leaves the higher profile parts of London for its more anonymous suburban reaches in the piece linked below. We enjoyed this item because it got us thinking about the contrast between the author’s notion of suburban and what constitutes that reality in North America.
London was a massive city long before the present era, one in which places with eight or ten million people are shilling-a-dozen. With its long head start London has an extensive transit network, the likes of which is unmatched in North America with the exception of New York City. In terms of population density and automobile ownership London is not suburban in American and Canadian terms though the latter statistic has risen considerably in most of the UK since the 1980s. Dare we think that the 100 year-old suburbs of London represent a denser, better connected model for communities half the age or less in North America? Or is it apples and oranges? If suburbs in North America grow deliberately into better places will they attract creative people, writers in a way they really do not at the moment? An interesting question.
Why I moved back to the suburbs
photo: Birkbeck Station in south London
Chris McKenna via Wikimedia Commons
Crossing the pond to the United Kingdom from Canada we find at least two things much the same. The first is a public health care system. The second is that despite the latter the richer the person the more likely they are to be in good health and live longer. At least, that is the finding of a think tank called the King’s Fund. They have taken a longer term look at diet, smoking, exercise, and drinking. Not exactly a pretty picture, the influence of these things on the cost and provision of health care.
Class divide in health widens says think tank Guardian
Clustering of unhealthy behaviours over time: implications for policy and practice King’s Fund site
Keep calm and carry on… unless you are a working person and live in the UK. Here’s a piece from the Guardian columnist Eva Wiseman. It contains several of the main threads we’ve been discussing around here. The item puts in personal terms what it all feels like and asks where is it all going? Apparently, to live in Ms. Wiseman’s part of London and rent comfortably you need an income of nearly seventy-thousand pounds a year. The pound has come down a bit over the years (something to do with running out of North Sea oil) but that’s still roughly two-hundred-bazillion Canadian dollars, …a lot of sterling to hand over to a landlord just for the privilege of living someplace.
Locked out of the property market
We aren’t saying that older, centralized urban hubs should be ossified on behalf of the poor. But these ideas to manipulate and reposition socio-economic groups are no better than deliberate neighbourhood busting via highway projects or gentrification, are they? Where’s the balance? Linked here is an item from the Guardian for just such a scheme that would see people incentivized from London to the much smaller community of Hull on the North Sea.
photo credit: MichaelMaggs via Wikimedia Commons
Recent policy changes in and around London, England are seen by some to represent the system ‘taking the gloves off’, so to speak, in regard to who gets what and lives where. To some extent these policy changes probably just formally represent changes and desires that have been on the books and in the hearts of decision makers for some time. If you are on the receiving end it may mot much matter from whence it all comes, this latest effort at reordering the UK’s capital, long the seat of extreme differences in income and standard of living. These items linked below would appear to describe a bold-faced, formal, legalistic and economic effort to move the lower orders away from central/high prestige areas.
Council cuts: the Manhattanisation of central London Guardian
Housing benefit cuts: Tory flagship prepares to give 5,000 households their marching orders Guardian
It strikes us as unexpected, ironic to have come across an article in the media in which ‘commute’ and ‘riot’ are in the same sentence. We also recently came across a seriously intriguing animated map referring to recent riots in England. The map plots home address and location of charges laid against rioters. It’s quite something to see just how far indviduals travel to participate in rioting. London tended be a convoluted mass of locations and journeys reflecting its existence as a massive agglomeration of suburbs and centres packed close together. In secondary cities the edge-to-centre pattern of journeys to riot are very distinct. We don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the use of a motor vehicle is indicated by many of these movements. Incredible really to think of people going out of their way, quite literally, to get in on destructive, anti-social behaviour in the centre of the communities they live in or near. The obvious metaphor is a biological one: spermatozoa journeying to ovum. What to make of one young man who paid a hundred pounds to alter the return date on his airplane ticket, preferring, apparently, to riot than vacation.
England “riot commute” mapped Guardian
Better quality, less reactionary consideration of recent riots in England is starting to emerge. The first item for this posting is from The Guardian and it makes a reasonable connection to prolonged suburban rioting in France’s suburbs six years ago, examining the motives of actors in the street. The second, an older item from The Economist, …well, reading is believing.
Striking parallels between UK riots and France 2005 unrest
Rebranding la banlieue: an attempt to brush up the image of Parisian suburbs