Northern Powerhouse and Levelling up? Sounds like the ‘Northern Counter-Magnet’ of 1964

Policies going around in historical circles again?

I’ve been trying to shake off this latest bout of fatigue with little success – the end of the block to the nearest convenience store is about as far as I can go at the moment. Hence spending much time digitising very old books and pamphlets from my boxes at home (have a browse through them here). Or rather my parents’ home because with current house prices and the state of my health I long since gave up the idea of having, let alone owning my own place. So a big ***thank you*** again to my merry band of supporters whose kind donations have also enabled me to acquire some ‘new old pamphlets’ if I can call them that, which shine a new light on present policy discussions. Because without your help I wouldn’t have found out about things such as:

What these have to do with some very recent announcements

Recent at the time of typing – 09 June 2022. These are:

On Right to Buy:

“In 2015, Inside Housing revealed that 37.6% of former Right to Buy homes were being rented privately. Two years later, Nathaniel Barker finds the number creeping up”

Inside Housing 07/12/2017

“The committee found that 40% of ex-council flats sold through statutory right to buy were now private rental properties”

The Commons communities and local government select committee in The Guardian 10/2/2016

As for the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill 2022, its long title is:

“A Bill to make provision for: [my bullet points to make it easier to read]

  • the setting of levelling-up missions and reporting on progress in delivering them;
  • about local democracy;
  • about town and country planning;
  • about Community Infrastructure Levy;
  • about the imposition of Infrastructure Levy;
  • about environmental outcome reports for certain consents and plans;
  • about regeneration; about the compulsory purchase of land;
  • about information and records relating to land, the environment or heritage;
  • for the provision for pavement licences to be permanent;
  • about governance of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors;
  • about vagrancy and begging; and…
  • for connected purposes”

Which is *a lot of stuff* to cram into a piece of legislation.

Is this the ‘Counter Magnet all over again?

See from p6 by the TCPA here in the year 1964 – a general election year.

It sets out the problem of the relative growth of London & the South East vs the relative decline of the north of England, along with the similar declines in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

So how is it that nearly 60 years later we still have similar problems?

This is one of the reasons why historical context and historical policy analysis are ever so important in policy-making. Part of the problem is that policy-making circles lack both the in-house historical analysis capacity and the links to whatever historical public policy units that might be available to give that important historical grounding. Even more important given the turnover of staff in Whitehall, and the number of people who have not had either the time nor the experience to gain that historical knowledge of their policy. Especially those straight out of university irrespective of their talents. I was one of those 20-somethings who worked in a range of policy areas.

Although I was never in any position to influence any policy areas in any huge way (that’s what lobbyists representing wealthy clients seem to do these days!) having a collective historical knowledge of their policy areas could massively improve policy making as a profession. The digitising and open access of past historical documents, papers, news articles (in particular the British Newspaper Archive, and massively reduces the search time to find whatever people need, without having to wade through thousands of pages of paper at a time.

Meanwhile, at the Combined Authority…

Take a pick from the articles in the Cambridge Independent here, or the Cambs Times here. Trevor Dann radio show also picks up on the ongoing rows on Cambridge 105 here.

The AGM of the Combined Authority happened yesterday – you can watch the video stream here and draw your own conclusions.

I had a question tabled on my behalf, asking if the new ARU Peterborough could open a new school of dentistry given the shortage of dentists not just in/around Cambridge, but nationwide.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson confirmed he asked Anglia Ruskin University (of which I am a former postgraduate student) about the possibility of this. He confirmed

  • ARU Is actively exploring opening a new school of dentistry on one of its campuses in the medium term. (Peterborough, Cambridge, or Chelmsford)
  • ARU is actively exploring if it can establish an access course for dentistry in the medium term.

My question related to this blogpost I wrote, and some social media exchanges that followed. I”m glad to have gotten this onto the public record, given my looming commencement as a governor for the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT), which has responsibility for NHS dental services – my term beginning next month. Which reminds me – anyone interested in general practice services/doctor’s surgeries, NHS dental services, and NHS mental health services in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough can join as a Trust Member for free. We need more people involved not just in the detailed scrutiny, but simply being aware of what is happening and keeping their communities informed. You can see the full list of responsibilities for the CPFT here.

And finally…

You saw the vote of confidence results in the Prime Minister. The numbers speak for themselves. We could be in for a very long autumn…

Or a snap general election. In which case, ensure you and those around you are registered to vote – see – and see also this from the House of Commons Library about Voter ID given the Elections Act 2022.

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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