Are the Cities of Northern England Doomed?

North Englanders
A UK conservative think-tank suggests that cities in the North of England are declining without a chance of recovery

The conservative UK think-tank Policy Exchange has sent a shockwave through English politics by suggesting that England’s northern cities are declining without hope of recovery. Furthermore, they propose that residents of cities such as Liverpool and Sunderland move to the more prosperous Southeast of England and that government help this internal migration by building three million new homes to house these people.

The outrage is compounded by the fact that Policy Exchange is tied to UK Tory leader David Cameron and will no doubt have an affect on Tory support (what little that they do have) in these post-industrial cities.

As for these northern cities, Nigel Morris reports:

In its report, the think-tank said: “We need to accept above all that we cannot guarantee to regenerate every town and every city in Britain that has fallen behind. Just as we can’t buck the market, so we can’t buck economic geography either.”

Policy Exchange said many large coastal cities had lost their raison d’etre with the decline of shipping and raised the alarm over the future of Liverpool, Sunderland, Hull, Scunthorpe and Blackpool. It said it was unrealistic to expect the prosperous cities of Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle to regenerate less well-off neighbours such as Liverpool, Rochdale, Bradford and Sunderland. It said such places were not “doomed” and could not be abandoned, but people had to face up to the fact that they had “little prospect of offering their residents the standard of living to which they aspire”. The think-tank said all three million new homes earmarked for England by 2020 should be built in the South-east, making it easier for people in less well-off areas to move. It also called for massive building in Oxford and Cambridge, taking advantage of their high skills base and favourable location.

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