Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

AV Will Benefit the Whole Country

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

AV Will Benefit the Whole Country

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL BENNEWORTH

I'M looking forward to spending a few months in Tynemouth this summer with the arrival of our first child. And it's not just us who are expecting: there has been in recent years a surge in numbers of births.

That's surprising given how much we hear about the challenges of an ageing population. But the reality is that birth rates are back to their 1973 level, which is important because birth rates indicate our national optimism.

Despite the economic crisis, people are still happy to have children and believe they can give them a good future.

One of the strongest signs of the troubles facing the Eastern Bloc countries in the 1970s was falling birth rates. People had no hope in their countries' future and became unwilling en masse to have children.

In the United Kingdom, the immediate post-war period saw the opposite happen. Parents separated by war were reunited, believing in a brighter future, resulting in a baby boom. Critically, this generation, now in their 80s and 90s, made Britain a place in which their children could be happy. This generation bequeathed us the National Health Service, a real welfare state, full employment, council houses and public transport.

These services helped guarantee their children the basics for fulfilled lives, so they would never be powerless and destitute during another Great Depression.

Today's higher birth rates suggest another period of optimism. But who is now taking the lead and building a better future for our children? We seem to be at a point where such big changes are seen as un-British and politicians readily whip up public opposition to any kinds of social improvement.

People only see the problems in suggested solutions rather than seeing them as the first step to making things better.

We are the only Western European country without a high-speed rail network and depend on fuel-guzzling flights for long-distance domestic travel. By contrast, France opened its first French TGV line in 1970. Since then, the network has expanded to link French cities to one another and their European neighbours, greatly boosting Lyon, Lille and Marseilles. …

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