New Powers, New Deals: Remaking British Towns After Brexit

Policy Scotland is delighted to present Duncan Maclennan and Heather McCauley for a seminar, chaired by Sir John Elvidge, which launches this new report commissioned and published by the Carnegie UK Trust.

Towns are home to two in five of UK population (from Kindness, Agency and the Enabling State: a five jurisdiction study (forthcoming), by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Carnegie UK Trust.) They are diverse in their size, economic functions and their proximity and connection to metropolitan areas. They are also diverse in the challenges they face to maintain and raise the wellbeing of residents. Their scale and diversity may explain why towns have been neglected in UK spatial economic thinking, with regional, metropolitan and city levels commanding policy attention.

It is now apparent that discontent in two particular groupings of towns, the old industrial towns of England and Wales and the [places pressured by growth at the edge of the metropolitan south, had significantly higher than average ‘leave’ votes in the Brexit referendum and were a significant factor in the national majority for leaving the EU. The sources of discontent in many of these places lay not in actions, or even membership, of the EU but in the policy choices of UK and local governments in relation to local economic policies in struggling towns and public spending and service choices in growing pressured places. Studies of the likely overall, spatial and sectoral impacts of Brexit suggest that the effects are likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate the difficulties facing such towns and that, in the main, few places will see any significant benefits. All towns, to minimise negative effects and grasp any consequent opportunities, need a much more significant economic understanding of their prospects, a new ‘deal’ from governments regarding their place in policy and in powers to shape local changes.

A much more careful set of national town policies, local town partnerships, and partnerships of towns within broader metropolitan areas-regions, is required. Britain’s towns need to take back control, not from the EU but from national and devolved administrations within the UK.

This event is free but spaces are limited so please register to secure your place.

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