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Hinterland - 10 June 2019

In Hinterland this week - a reluctantly growing rural workforce, Cornish town seeks GP, food prices on the brink of an October revolution (in a bad way), should libraries “stick to their knitting”? an exciting devolved adventure in Banking and the burgeoning of eccentricity stimulated by a festival near you!! Read on....

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High rents in English cities forcing young to stay in small towns

Every cloud has a silver lining. We know that there are more business per head of population in rural places. One of the ongoing challenges has been a lack of a workforce. The in some ways regrettable trend of young people finding it harder to move to the City does provide rural businesses with a richer range of workforce opportunities.

One of the defining patterns of English life in which young people move from small towns with limited prospects to bigger cities to seek their fortune is in dramatic decline, research has revealed.

More young people are getting stuck where they grew up or went to university because they cannot afford rents in places where they can earn more money, according to the Resolution Foundation thinktank. It found the number of people aged 25 to 34 starting a new job and moving home in the last year had fallen 40% over the last two decades.

Whereas previous generations were able to move to big cities such as London and Manchester or regional hubs like Leeds and Bristol to develop their careers, the current millennial generation is enduring a slump in mobility caused by rising rents, which can wipe out the financial gains of a move.

Even moves over short distances were barely worth making, the data showed. A person on average earnings in Scarborough paying average rent would have been 29% better off if they had moved to Leeds in 1997 and paid average rent and earned average money. In 2018, rising rents and stagnant wages means the benefit after taking into account rent was just 4%.


Cornish village hopes to charm new GP into taking over practice

Now this is an excellent example of rural people power in action. At the 4th session of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Rural Health and Care on Thursday Professor Stephen Singleton was talking about a very similar approach in a Cumbrian example. The key point here is that health and care needs significant community engagement if it is to be sustainable in the long term in many small rural towns. This story tells us:

Lorna Cavanagh can name every doctor who has worked at the surgery in the Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey since 1944 – the year she was born. The 75-year-old describes calling a Dr Hannon at 2am when her sister-in-law was taken ill with kidney stones in the 1970s. “You could see him from our window coming down that hill on his moped,” she said. “It was a very personal service.”

Last month the well-respected partner of the local practice, Dr Katherine James, announced she would be handing back her contract to run the surgery on 31 July. NHS England says it is assessing the options available, but it is feared the much-loved community surgery could close and its 5,300 patients forced to use the infrequent and expensive bus service to travel elsewhere for treatment.

Faced with this prospect, the residents of Mevagissey, which is eight miles south of St Austell, the nearest medium-sized town, took matters into their own hands. The “Will you be my GP?” campaign – with its #willyoubemygp hashtag – aims to persuade doctors around the country that they should make the picturesque fishing village, with its narrow winding streets and superior fish and chips, their home. In a campaign video posted on the Cornwall Channel, a crowd of residents chant: “Be our GP. We are a lovely community. We need you.”


Brexit: No-deal outcome could force shopping bills up by £800 a year, says union

Some very interesting economic analysis about food, which of course sits at the heart of the rural economy, here, this story tells us:

The cost of a family’s weekly shop could rocket by more than £800 a year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a major union has warned.

Analysis for the GMB found that the bill for a typical supermarket basket of goods would increase by £15.61 a week – 17 per cent – if Britain was forced to fall back on World Trade Organisation rules, which require tariffs on many goods.

Under the WTO’s “most favoured nation” rules, the price of a 250g pack of butter would rise by 42p (up 28 per cent). Other increases would include 62p for a 460g block of cheddar(up 29 per cent), 43p for a pack of eight sausages (up 25 per cent), 32p for 2.5kg of potatoes (up 14 per cent) and £2.56 for a bottle of red wine (up 32 per cent), according to Acuity Analysis


Struggling libraries are 'trying to do too much' by offering yoga classes and iPads, former Waterstones boss says

This article gave me interesting pause for thought. I wonder if our truism that the way to sustain things in rural places is to join them up might not work in every example? The story tells us:

Libraries are struggling because they are “trying to do too much” by becoming community centres that offer yoga classes and iPads rather than focusing on books, the former managing director of Waterstones has said.

Tim Coates criticised the “hopeless” direction libraries in the UK have taken over the past 20 years, attributing their declining use to the industry’s obsession with “rigging them out” with the latest technology and trendy activities.

His comments come after recent research revealed that UK public and school library use is less than half of that in the US because “America stuck to just providing books,” he said.

Mr Coates, who was also the managing director of WhSmith, said British libraries have “lost direction”, adding: “The library profession has got too hung up on how important it is as a ‘social force’ and it is a terrible mistake.


Bank closures: Could Wales community bank be the answer?

One benefit of the devolved administrations is that the legislature is close enough to the people to do things which local authorities in England cant. This is a classic example. Whilst Im not seeking to open up the regional government debate again I do think a South West or an East Midlands regional response to a policy issue like this affecting rural communities would provide enough heft to address a national malaise.

Assembly research shows more than 200 banks have shut in Wales since 2008, leaving towns such as Newcastle Emlyn and Hay-on-Wye without any.

Banc Cambria would work like a regular bank, with branches across the country, but would be owned by its members.

First Minister Mark Drakeford pledged to set up a community bank in his Welsh Labour leadership campaign.

The Public Bank for Wales Action Group, working with the Community Savings Bank Association, wants to fill gaps left by the departing high street banks.

Banc Cambria board member Mark Hooper told BBC Sunday Politics Wales: "You will be able to have a current account, businesses will be able to have accounts, there'll be mortgages provided so people will be able to buy homes.

"We'll also be making sure there's a superb online presence - people like using their apps. It will be in Welsh and English."

Mr Hooper hopes for Welsh Government support and wants to be able to start talking about its first investor soon, as it continues to seek funding.

It would then be able to set out a timescale for applying for a banking licence and opening the first branches.


And Finally

Toe-wrestling, oysters, happiness … there’s a micro-festival for all of them

The great outdoors provides a wonderful setting for everything from whimsy to radical and as this article proves is often the perfect antidote to the stifling pervasiveness of city living. That”s why so many people rush to the countryside to express themselves!

Taylor’s is a good example of a fast-growing breed of boutique festivals that are popping up all over Britain, with numbers doubling in the past year to more than 18,000.

The phenomenon has its roots in America, says Paul McCrudden, whose San Francisco-based company, Eventbrite, allows users to post details of their upcoming events and manage the flow of budding participants for everything from knitting festivals to toe-wrestling.

It’s active here in the UK too, where food-themed festivals alone have risen 600% in the past four years, he says. “It’s bringing the niche and the underground mainstream,” McCrudden says. “Anyone can create one and anyone can attend.”

That’s how Shonette Bason saw it too. Fed up with what she calls “moaning lemon suckers”, Bason decided to create her own festival based on the science of happiness. The idea was to bring as many positive people together as possible, even though Bason, a self-styled happiness guru, was aware that her chirpy disposition meant “I just irritate people all the time!” To her surprise, though, about 1,000 like-minded souls flocked to a warehouse in Old Trafford in Manchester last summer. And they were happy enough to pay £30 a pop to hear Bason’s motivational tips on ditching the grimace and staying tip-top.


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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