The question surrounding London's dominance over the UK economy has been growing in importance, beyond think tanks and policy wonks to prime time television.
Reporter Evan Davis has responded to the debate about whether London is too big, too powerful and all-in-all good or bad for the rest of the UK with his two-part BBC2 series, Mind the Gap. Funnily enough, the Channel 4 show Gogglebox (which has us watching people watching TV) also gauged the watchers’ opinions of Mind the Gap and the arguments it posited (watch it on 4OD from 25:40).
Mind the Gap raised some very important questions – and answered a few – about how to support both growing and struggling cities in this two-speed recovery. Centre for Cities has discussed some of the commonly held beliefs about London and its impact on other cities in Cities Outlook 2014. We found:
Now we are working with the Centre for London and Lloyds to understand how people in cities across the UK perceive London’s economic, cultural, social, and political impact on their patch.
To whet your appetite, below are some responses from the Gogglebox watchers to the issues raised in Mind the Gap:
“Londoners think that we’re thick.” – The Moffatt Family, Durham
Son: “London is good, but the rest of England is a ********.”
Parents: “It’s not!” “No you mustn’t say that.” “If you’ve got money, London is the best city in the world.” – The Tapper Family, North London
“Who do you think is better looking? People form the North or people from the South?” – The Siddiqui Family, Derby
“If you were…sat at a bus stop [in Durham], someone would talk to you at the bus stop. If you were at the tube station in London, nobody speaks. I’d be scared to ask somebody what the time was in London in case they thought you were a terrorist or something.” – The Moffatt Family, Durham
These are stylised responses to the issues at hand, but they do provide a backdrop to the way perceptions of London and its effect on other cities shape the relationships between them. While many of the Gogglebox watchers were yawning during the programme or calling it boring, some also expressed strong opinions about how London’s economic growth and culture has an impact on them.
By bringing together the economic analysis with the perceptions of people across the country, we at the Centre for Cities can give a rich picture of how to better manage the relationship between London and the rest of the UK. It is up to organisations like the Centre for Cities and policy makers to remind people why they need to Think Cities by showcasing why they matter to people’s everyday lives.
Read more about our Think Cities election campaign on the website:www.thinkcities.org.uk or follow the campaign on Twitter: @thinkcitiesuk
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