Magazine article Public Finance

Away the Lads

Magazine article Public Finance

Away the Lads

Article excerpt

Roy Keane, the manager of Sunderland Football Club, blamed it on wives and shopping. Overpaid footballers, he said, would rather play for an inferior London team than head to Wearside and miss out on upmarket retail therapy.

Policy Exchange, the Conservative-leaning think-tank, says there's more to it Sunderland is isolated, it has severe skills problems and regeneration schemes have undoubtedly failed to halt its decline. Other Northern cities - including Liverpool, Bradford and Bolton - face similar woes.

It was a bleak assessment of the long-awaited urban renaissance, and the proposed solution was equally disturbing. According to the Policy Exchange report, citizens of such 'failing' cities should head south and try their luck in London, Oxford or Cambridge.

Politicians of all hues, unsurprisingly, condemned this simplistic and insensitive analysis. It was particularly embarrassing for David Cameron who, with unfortunate timing, was starting his tour of Northern marginals.

Cameron described the proposals as 'insane', as indeed they were. But it is clear that, despite New Labour spending billions of pounds on regeneration, the gap between successful and unsuccessful cities is growing. …

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