The unbearable sadness…

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  • The unbearable sadness…
  • Edukator
    Member

    Many of the people of Blaenau appear to have given up on God. A decade ago less than a quarter of people here said they had no religion – now the census shows it is over 40%.

    Why such a negative headline when things are clearly improving?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I saw that.

    I don’t think we can bring back heavy industry, I’m not sure that’s the leftie position.

    How would I resolve it? I don’t know. Perhaps tax breaks for industries to move there? I’m sure that’s been tried though.

    I think the population is falling though, it surely must.

    headfirst
    Member

    Firstly, not have a referendum on the EU which puts off multinationals from investing in the UK, due to the uncertainty that goes along with it.

    eskay
    Member

    I read the article and thought it tragic as well, Wales is scattered with such towns. There is always a massive contrast between the beauty of the surrounding coutryside and the depressed former mining towns.

    There used to be large incentives for businesses to setup in Wales. I remember visiting a new industrial estate near Crickhowell once. I am not sure if the incentives still exist. The problems is even ‘thriving’ areas of Great Britain are strugglin at the moment.

    CountZero
    Member

    A bunch of high-tech companies set up in South Wales, like Sony, but they’ve been struggling because of the downturn in consumer need for new tellies every year, and closed the factory.
    This isn’t just a UK problem; look at America’s Rust Belt, particularly Detroit, which is almost a ghost city now.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    A bunch of high-tech companies set up in South Wales, like Sony, but they’ve been struggling because of the downturn in consumer need for new tellies every year, and closed the factory.

    no they haven’t, they make raspberry pi’s there now.

    http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/tag/sony

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    Yeah it’s pretty shit (used to live in not far from there) but there’s no easy solution, you’d not only have to spend shit loads of money to attract significant numbers of jobs to the area but the available workforce that is there is now mostly unskilled so what jobs would they be? Aside from ever more call centres if they try and set up an engineering base or something a lot of the workforce is going to have to come from elsewhere, at least for a good 5 years or so.
    Maybe the current plan is to make the areas so depressing that people stop having kids or the young adults all move away so the towns disappear. Ultimately trying to sustain populations that are there due to an industry that’s long since gone is pretty futile.

    globalti
    Member

    Communities and settlements have come and gone over the centuries and once the reason for them existing has gone, they will fade away. This website is full of abandoned communities: http://www.abandonedcommunities.co.uk/index.html

    Look at Detroit – in some small ways the city is going through a rebirth similar to that of towns like Hebden Bridge after the wool and then cotton industries collapsed; cheap proprty attracts creative types who slowly begin to revive the town. It won’t happen all over the Welsh valleys but I’m sure it will in a limited way.

    Edric 64
    Member

    I lived in Ebbw Vale in the late 80s just before it held the national garden festival .I moved because I couldnt afford a house in Somerset .At that time the steel mill and Marine Colliery were still working .It was quite run down then but actually a great place to live as a mountain biker and caver because the great outdoors was just the other side of the head of the valleys road

    Edukator
    Member

    The comparison with the US is pertinent. If you don’t pay people to do nothing they migrate to where the work is. Like any other mining, oil or natural resources dependent town when the resource runs out or is no longer economically exploitable, the town’s reason to be is gone and the pragmatic solution is to abandon it.

    Junkyard
    Member

    There are fewer than 60,000 adults in Blaenau Gwent. Each month almost 10,000 prescriptions are issued for anti-depressants. It is a statistic so shocking it is hard to comprehend.

    I think as a society we need to realise that either subsidising industry or leaving it to to fail come at a cost

    It is difficult to see what can be done in towns that existed for just one or two industries. Now that has now stopped…the whole place is literally ****…I know I am from one.

    Without massive outside investment it wont change

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    The current benefits system keeps plenty of towns from disappearing long after their main economic activity has vanished. Obviously it’s difficult to even conceive of using benefits as a lever to move people away from unsustainable and uneconomic towns. Perhaps find a way to incentivise people to move elsewhere – but even this would be fiercely resisted in the name of a ‘community’ which is being kept alive by artificial means.

    I haven’t seen much of the S Wales towns mentioned, but a similar situation exists in NE England, with towns like Easington Colliery kept hanging on drowning in unemployment, poverty and poor health long after the reason for their existence has gone.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    I think if this was in the US the villages would just be abandoned – plenty of former mining ghost towns dotted around the US countryside.

    In the UK we seem to let these towns and village die a slow death instead. I’m not sure which option is better, but this sort of post industrial landscape does seem to be a big problem in large parts of the UK.

    Wales seems particularly badly affected though.

    I think decentralising a lot of large government from London (or Cardiff for that matter) might be a start.

    Hard as it is to say the people “stuck” in these towns need to look at their options too.

    I grew up in an area of declining heavy industry in south west Scotland. I went to university and moved to the big city up the road. It seemed a much better alternative than scraping out an existence in a town with failing prospects – even if it was my “home”

    retro83
    Member

    There used to be large incentives for businesses to setup in Wales. I remember visiting a new industrial estate near Crickhowell once. I am not sure if the incentives still exist. The problems is even ‘thriving’ areas of Great Britain are strugglin at the moment.

    Even if they do exist, I wonder how they stack up against things like the cut price loan from the EU’s European Investment Bank given to Ford to move their factory to Turkey. Especially when you consider they probably have massively lower energy, wage etc costs too. Difficult to compete against that. Or do/can the EU offer those kind of deals to Wales too?

    I just read some of the comments underneath that article. Blimey!

    edlong
    Member

    Maybe the current plan is to make the areas so depressing that people stop having kids or the young adults all move away so the towns disappear.

    I wouldn’t call it a “plan” but it is the most likely long term result. I have sympathy for the older sections of the current working age population, as in the article there’s not much more incentive for an unemployed, unqualified, 50-something ex-miner with no savings to migrate elsewhere to futilely look for work, but for the younger generations, this is surely what will happen.

    But this is hardly new, and neither is the American experience unique. Go and look at the picturesque industrial archaeology in Swaledale – once a hive of industry, now a rural backwater. Look at “ghost towns” the world over, deserted when the oil/gold/coal ran out.

    These towns are done. Finished. Kaput. Over.

    The only thing keeping them going, frankly, is benefit dependency. The only reason anyone other than an older, unemployed ex-miner waiting for death would stay rather than looking to migrate to somewhere with more prospects is the idea that you can sustain a life, in the long term, on “hand-outs” from the state.

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    Well sitting in a Hotel in Detroit at the moment and having in-laws in South Wales I can see why people draw comparisons however the comparisons are not valid. Detroit is still in decline and has huge debt ($17B) due to the loss of many industries and depopulation. The Re-generation PR is good but largely PR. However outside the city limits you will find huge car factories producing record numbers of cars (ford Dearborn) and very affluent area (eg. Grosse Pointe).

    South Wales, this industry has gone and the people are still there. However unless they move to the South East there aren’t so many options for them to move to find work. I can’t see an easy option to bring industry back to South Wales. It was there originally due to the resources (coal and iron) and once they have gone, why move your industry back there? I’ve seen the “high tech business parks” in these areas S.Wales towns and they employ small numbers of people.

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    Well sitting in a Hotel in Detroit at the moment and having in-laws in South Wales I can see why people draw comparisons however the comparisons are not valid. Detroit is still in decline and has huge debt ($17B) due to the loss of many industries and depopulation. The Re-generation PR is good but largely PR. However outside the city limits you will find huge car factories producing record numbers of cars (ford Dearborn) and very affluent area (eg. Grosse Pointe).

    South Wales, this industry has gone and the people are still there. However unless they move to the South East there aren’t so many options for them to move to find work. I can’t see an easy option to bring industry back to South Wales. It was there originally due to the resources (coal and iron) and once they have gone, why move your industry back there? I’ve seen the “high tech business parks” in these areas S.Wales towns and they employ small numbers of people.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Without massive subsidies there is no economic future for these places, low skilled labour, poor transport links, physically remote – nothing business wants or needs there. People migrated there for the coal, that was the only reason these places ever became anything more than small farming villages. Without the coal, that’s what they will return to.

    Junkyard
    Member

    I haven’t seen much of the S Wales towns mentioned, but a similar situation exists in NE England, with towns like Easington Colliery kept hanging on drowning in unemployment, poverty and poor health long after the reason for their existence has gone.

    It is true that the desire to stay in the land of your forefathers etc is a strong one and i suppose the debate is whether we want to support hat and encourage it or make everyone move to the South eats of the country and work there instead.

    To blame benefits is both heartless and stupid

    The only reason anyone other than an older, unemployed ex-miner waiting for death would stay rather than looking to migrate to somewhere with more prospects is the idea that you can sustain a life, in the long term, on “hand-outs” from the state.

    If this is the Only reason you can think of then the education system has failed you.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    The ultimate example of an abandoned town is Detroit, now the car manufacturers all migrated East. Its now a ghost town of abandoned buildings. Grim! But it makes for some stunning photographs of urban decay

    gwaelod
    Member

    The leisure potential for the South Wales valleys is virtually untouched…Mountain Biking is one of the few things that has had a (small) impact. Removing the fixation of the authorities of chucking money at big overseas companies to come and “invest” in South Wales would be a start (has the Amazon warehouse taken money out of or put money into South Wales economy..I suspect the former).

    building small scale sustainable niche businessess around leisure and recreation industry will attract and crucually keep money in South Wales. Merthyr Tydfil could genuinely become the outdoor sports capital of southern britain…it has everything on its doorstep except ambition.

    Good luck to the Gethin lot…..hopefully thats gonna startsomething in Merthyr…but how about turningthe abandoned Tower Colliery (you can see it from the back of the Skyline) into a cable car uplift.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Go and look at the picturesque industrial archaeology in Swaledale – once a hive of industry, now a rural backwater.

    An interesting comparison. As an owner of a cottage in Swaledale I know the area very well. It seems to have re-adjusted very well. Eg Take the village of Muker, population 200 ish, it had 1000s living there during the mining boom, but has now re-adjusted and is doing pretty well for a small village. Crime is very low, village is clean and tidy, very little poverty, very few on benefits (other than pensions), good local schools etc….

    All or these thousands of people who you would encourage to migrate: where would you house them? And where are the jobs for them to do?

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    To blame benefits is both heartless and stupid

    It’s not a question of ‘blame’, I was simply pointing out that they do contribute to these towns continuing long after the economic reasons for their existence have gone. I was at pains to say that altering the benefits system to address this imbalance was pretty much unthinkable, unless you are going to actively incentivise people to move, rather than penalise them for not moving.

    We all want more of the people who currently live in Easington Colliery and some of these S Wales communities to be economically productive – it is good for them and their families, and the economy in general.

    I’m not sure that inward investment in terms of subsidies for employers is going to provide the longer-term solution, at least not at a very local level. Perhaps at a regional one though, which could concentrate resources on towns further away which are better placed to attract big employers because of the quality of their existing workforce.

    Ohnohesback – and it’s at that point, when there is hopefully a forecast labour shortage in Sunderland or Hartlepool, that you could start incentivising people to get moving out of Easington.

    El-bent
    Member

    of the Welsh valleys.

    Bit melodramatic from the BBC, but it does raise quite a few issues.

    I’m sure the lefties will say bring back heavy industry, and the right wing nutters will mention something tebbit-esqe, related to bikes and getting on them.

    This is an issue for a lot of former industrial towns, not just the Welsh ones. a large number of us have travelled through these areas on our way to various trail centres, but stuff like trail centres alone will not make enough of an economic impact to improve the situation.

    How would you resolve this?

    edlong
    Member

    All or these thousands of people who you would encourage to migrate: where would you house them? And where are the jobs for them to do?

    I don’t think it’s about encouraging them, I think it’s what will inevitably happen.

    bencooper
    Member

    But it makes for some stunning photographs of urban decay

    As does the death of industry in Wales:


    Welsh Mine 3 by Ben Cooper, on Flickr

    Parts of Scotland have this problem too, and it’s hard to think of a simple solution. Without a particular reason to be there, the industry won’t come back, but the people who live there can’t afford to move elsewhere – and there aren’t exactly loads of jobs elsewhere anyway.

    It’s called Broken Britain…

    edlong
    Member

    If this is the Only reason you can think of then the education system has failed you.

    Okay then, guru of urban regeneration, what have I missed? We’ve tried the macro stuff – government incentives to international businesses to come and build factories. They’ve tried the micro stuff – painting the disused shops a pretty colour and putting some old PCs in the community centre. Leisure and Tourism? I’d suggest there’s a place for it but I don’t reckon you can replace the employment /economic opportunities of a large coalfield and an extensive steelmaking industry with a couple of mountain bike uplifts and a tearoom here and there.

    Everywhere else, throughout human history, when the reason for a large community to exist in a certain place has gone, the people follow.

    So Junkyard, what have I missed?

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Broken Britain…

    Broken record more like.

    5thElefant
    Member

    The population boom in south wales was caused by immigrants coming to find work. I think that might be a clue.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Interesting points being made. 2-3 generations ago people had to move to where the work was, and towns withered and died. Maybe the benefits system is delaying that process.

    I live near, and work with several people from, the former East Midlands pit area. During the recent anniversary of the miners strike lots of former miners were on the local news bemoaning the fact that no new jobs had been moved to the area. It never seemed to have been an option for them to have been proactive in moving to where the work was in the intervening 30 years, and even some of their kids/neices/nephews seemed to feel that fault now lay on both sides

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It’s called Broken Britain…

    Show me a developed country that doesn’t have this problem.

    As for the Valleys being remote – they aren’t that remote. You’re two hours from the SE, almost all the Valleys have good roads now and they all have a train line.

    It’s true that there’s no economic reason for the population to be there any more. However they’ve become communities, and as above people don’t like to move away from their friends and families. Young people will, but I suspect it’s mostly people who’ve been to university, thereby setting up a bit of a brain drain.

    This isn’t just a UK problem; look at America’s Rust Belt, particularly Detroit, which is almost a ghost city now.

    There was a documentary on Detroit not so long ago about the imigration of young whites (fixie riding hipsters / ‘creatives’) to the city over the last 5 years displacing the previous black population who’d worked in the car factories who had now moved on (either retired to the countryside, or followed the work out of town).

    There was a similar report on London, and how waves of imigration ripple outwards, with a net imigration of whites into some central/eastern parts of London for the first time in decades, whilst areas like Dargernham in Essex were experienceing the reverse as other ethnic groups who’d moved to London since WW2 retired and moved out to the subburbs and country.

    El-bent
    Member

    Everywhere else, throughout human history, when the reason for a large community to exist in a certain place has gone, the people follow.

    There are a number of factors that may prevent a number of people from moving on.

    Lack of education, Jobs elsewhere, Cost of living/property prices in other parts of the country to name a few. Simply cutting benefits to get people on the move is quite knee jerk…and when taking into context of the above factors, a bit silly.

    But I also think that since these communities grew during the industrial revolution and as such have been around a while, there is a sense of community that still exists within them.

    We have moved from large industries to a financial and service based economy in a short time, without getting those left behind in former industrial centres to come along for the ride, so to speak. It went from heavy industry to next to nothing in a just over a decade.

    That’s not what I would call a managed decline, and the current situation is certainly not a managed decline either.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Moving across the country when you’re broke and your family’s broke isn’t particularly easy btw.

    5thElefant
    Member

    There never has been a managed decline in history. Boom and bust is the norm.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Move where to do what? Most of them are largely unskilled and uneducated – we don’t have a great need for that anywhere in the UK, except maybe seasonal farm work eg fruit picking.

    edlong
    Member

    During the recent anniversary of the miners strike lots of former miners were on the local news bemoaning the fact that no new jobs had been moved to the area. It never seemed to have been an option for them to have been proactive in moving to where the work was in the intervening 30 years

    Okay, you’re a fifty five year old ex-miner. The only thing you have ever done for a living is mine coal. You have no qualifications in anything other than hacking coal out of the ground, and no money.

    What work are you going to move somewhere to do?

    How are you going to move there to do it?

    To be honest, I don’t have a problem with benefit dependent ex-miners. History has dealt them a crap hand and there’s not a whole lot can be done about it. Sure, send them all on basic IT skills courses down the “JobClub” and show them how to write a CV, but the reality is many of these guys will not work again. Let the state pay them a pittance, they earned it and they’d still be earning it now if the pits hadn’t closed.

    The benefit dependency that is, I think, delaying the inevitable is among those who grow up in a culture of worklessness and expect to enter that stream themselves. The cliched teenage girl who’s life plan extends to getting pregnant so she can get social housing and benefits. The spurious sick who not only take the piss but lead to the demonisation of the many who are genuinely dependent on sickness related benefits because they are genuinely sick. We have created cultures in pockets of urban Britain where a workless life, dependent and expecting state handouts is not only acceptable, but is the norm.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Perhaps if we forcibly relocate anyone who lives in Dalston and has an Instagram account to the Valleys?

    On second thoughts, we don’t want to make things even worse for the locals.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    There never has been a managed decline in history. Boom and bust is the norm.

    There has. Thatcher did it with Liverpool. Which is why every town and city in the world is now full of exiled scousers banging on an on and on and on about the Pool being the greatest place in the weeeeeeerld 😉

    wrecker
    Member

    Trying to put myself in their position, if I suddenly couldn’t work where I live for whatever reason, I’d move. I’d need to provide food, shelter and hopefully a decent life for my family and the best chance possible for the kid(s).
    I’m sure I’d miss my wider family and friends but needs must. Looking after the nearest and dearest is number 1 priority. I’m not being preachy or critical of the people mentioned, just thinking aloud. Slow work day.

    As for what to do about the current situation in the valleys, haven’t a clue. Sorry.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    The words ‘Thatcher’, ‘Managed decline’ and ‘Liverpool’ combined in one concept. The internet equivalent of daring to disagree with Charles Saatchi…

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