Labour can’t help ‘left‑behind’ towns by overlooking struggling cities

Andrew Carter argues that the fortunes of our towns and cities are inextricably linked - and towns do better when cities do too

Press release published on 24 September 2018

One of the more welcome aspects of the Brexit fallout has been the spotlight it’s shone on ‘left behind’ towns and rural areas, which for too long were overlooked by Westminster.

And towns in particular are also an increasingly important political battleground, with Labour putting them at the heart of its strategy to win the next general election.

However, the question remains: how do you actually transform the prospects of towns across the country? For some in the Labour party, the main reason towns are struggling is that consecutive governments have focused too much on cities. The idea goes that cities have sucked up jobs, investment and talent, at the expense of towns – a trend that needs to change if smaller places are to flourish.

However, it would be a mistake to think that we can revive struggling towns by diverting political attention and resources away from cities. As a new Centre for Cities report shows, the fortunes of our cities and towns are inextricably linked – and when our cities thrive, so too do nearby towns.

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