During the last 30 years, Britain has undergone dramatic socio-economic change.
For some this has worked well – they have been able to embrace the changes around them and make them work to their advantage. Many of our cities, for example, have been transformed by a combination of the concentration of digital and other businesses, investment in infrastructure and a revival of inner city living. But there have been huge swathes of the population for whom the change has damaged much of what they value and who now feel that they have been abandoned by society and government alike.
Nowhere has this manifested itself more than in the old industrial heartlands, where more often than not the townsfolk were reliant for employment on a small number of large businesses, now long gone and unlikely ever to be replaced. The community was often built around these industries and this too withered away simultaneously.
The position has been exacerbated by the decline in town and shopping centres, previously thriving community hubs, but now hit hard by a combination of under investment, increased popularity of online shopping and the pull of large out of town shopping centres. These towns have also seen in some cases an influx of residents for whom the area is not their historic hometown and who have yet to establish a sense of belonging. So today the Britain we see is one of contrasts – not just between the affluent South East and the rest of the country, but also between the cities which are forging a new and bright identity and the towns which have been left stranded in their wake.
If this situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency, the gap will get still wider. The cities with their bars and restaurants, employment opportunities, excellent public transport and inner city housing will continue to attract those with money and talent whilst the towns will continue in the downward spiral which has left their centres derelict, job opportunities non existent and a large proportion of the population disaffected, disenfranchised and disillusioned.
Hometown Plus exists to redress the balance – to help the communities fight back, recover their identity, re-establish themselves and to help put local businesses and the general public back on the road to sustainable prosperity.
Find out more about our work to generate sustainable change for all stakeholders.