Monday, 4 June 2012

Latest figures show the gap between the rural rich and urban poor in Lancashire carries on widening

Latest figures show the gap between the rural rich and urban poor in Lancashire carries on widening. Whilst the rural rich have seen their incomes in absolute terms rise throughout the recession, and incredibly rise faster in the depths of the recession, incomes in poor urban areas have only stopped falling and are now flatlining.

The gap now between urban poor and rural rich has made rural areas inaccessible to many people poor people in urban areas looking for a better lifestyle.
The unemployment tables - a bit crude at constituency level - show that unemployment in rural areas is very low. So how is rural broadband going to generate jobs in a low unemployment area? Green belt and severe local restrictions on any development, be it housing, employment or infrastructure make job creation in these idyllic rural areas very difficult. 
Who is going to want to or accept, an arctic lorry travelling down narrow country lanes? Which businessman coming home late in the evening from work in urban east Lancashire is going to want to start another business in his garage or bedroom? How many retirees will want to begin over again making money and employing people?

This follows last weeks GP tables for East Lancashire which I published showing the best GP services were to be found in rural areas and poorest GP services in urban areas, notably my constituency Hyndburn.

All this comes on the back of the Radio 4 discussion on the taxpayer and Lancashire council tax payer subsidy of £32million in a austere times to replace broadband with super fast broadband in rural Lancashire. Questions remain as to the economic advantages the latter will make.

Some of the urban constituencies in Lancashire have had to face some for the deepest cuts in central government funding despite being some of the most deprived with serious social and economic issues.
Great Harwood lost its household recycling centre, one of four such centres closed as part of Lancashire County Council cost cutting. The many thousands who objected to this now are seeing those savings pumped into a £32million rural broadband scheme. It is easy to see why people in parts of Lancashire doubt the rationale of the scheme. 
During the Radio 4 debate Rory Stewart MP (Con) from Cumbria said that in his opinion rural people in Lancashire are poor too and struggle to access decent health care services in Lancashire. Evidentially this is wholly incorrect.

The debate has caused a storm with people from as far as Norfolk and Somerset upset at my comments suggesting poor people live in urban areas in Lancashire and rich people live in rural areas arguing that this is not the case where they live. People in East Lancashire have commented that the comments I made were correct and that it is difficult to see what £32million is adding in terms of employment, healthcare etc...

Clearly Norfolk and Somerset are the inverse to Lancashire in terms of need between urban and rural and extending the debate to those areas is beyond anything I said and unfair.