Archive for the 'Human Geography' Category

Where you live can kill you

Clare Bambra’s book Health Divides: where you live can kill you, published by Policy Press today reveals shocking facts about the social, environmental, economic and political causes of these health inequalities. In today’s guest blog Bambra shares her insights on how location really is a matter of life and death…

Clare Bambra

Clare Bambra

In 1842, the English social reformer Edwin Chadwick documented a 30-year discrepancy between the life expectancy of men in the poorest social classes and the gentry.

He also found a North-South health divide with people from all social classes faring better in the rural South than in the industrial North.

Today, these inequalities persist.People in the most affluent areas of the United Kingdom, such as Kensington and Chelsea, can expect to live 14 years longer than that those in the poorest areas, such as Glasgow or Blackpool.

Men and women in the North of England will, on average die 2 years earlier than those in the South. Scottish people also suffer a health penalty with the highest mortality rates in Western Europe. Continue reading ‘Where you live can kill you’

What impact has Mayor George Ferguson had in Bristol?

As  we go to the polls today in London, Bristol, Salford and Liverpool to vote for our choice of mayor our guest blog post by author and academic Robin Hambleton reflects on the impact the role has had in Bristol. This post was first published on the Centre for Cities site and can be viewed here.

The introduction of a directly elected mayor in 2012 has given Bristol more visible leadership – but more can be done to bring local councillors onside

HambletonIn a referendum in May 2012, the citizens of Bristol voted to introduce a directly elected mayor model of governance.

The following November, fifteen candidates, more than in any other mayoral contest in England, ran for the newly created office.

To the surprise of many media commentators (as well as the established political parties), Bristol citizens, quirky as always, elected an independent politician. George Ferguson, a respected architect with a good track record of carrying out imaginative urban regeneration projects in the city, defeated Marvin Rees, the Labour Party candidate and his main rival.

Front runners

Ferguson became the first independent politician to lead a major English city, and is now campaigning to win a second term on 5th May. Rees, who was born and bred on a council estate in Bristol and offers a progressive agenda for the city, has been chosen by the Labour Party to run again. He argues (and has solid evidence to back his argument) that gentrification of parts of the city is rampant, and that the prosperity the city is now enjoying is not widely spread. Continue reading ‘What impact has Mayor George Ferguson had in Bristol?’

Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal

Today’s guest post by Peter Matthews, co-author of After urban regeneration: Communities, policy and place, was written in response to David Cameron’s announced plan to demolish England’s poorest council estates.

This article, originally titled ‘ABI n* – return of the ABI’ was first published on the blog Urban policy and practice on Monday 11th January 2016.

Peter MatthewsI did my doctoral research on area-based initiatives, or ABIs. Even when I was doing the research the writing was on the wall for them.

The focus of my research had been the former Scottish Executive Community Regeneration Fund administered through Single Outcome Agreements. This ceased to be just as I was going into the field following the first SNP victory in 2007, so it ended up being about the “ending” of meaningful regenerationfor residents.

Following the 2010 election and the coalition government it looked like any form of regeneration was off the cards under the excuse of “austerity”. I’ve co-edited a book – After Urban Regeneration – that argues this very point. My research had turned to broader questions of inequality in our cities, particularly what the increasing focus on community engagement and involvement in service delivery might mean for inequalities in service delivery. Continue reading ‘Why Cameron’s housing policy will make the UK more spatially unequal’

JPP Editorial: Why Playwork is about much more than ‘space’

Today’s blog post is an editorial written by Shelly Newstead which featured in the latest issue of Journal of Playwork Practice. If you enjoy this and would like more information about the Journal of Playwork Practice or to take part in a free institutional trial please click here.

ShellyAt the time of this issue going to print, the backbone of the playwork profession in the UK, the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Playwork, is under review.

Primarily created to qualify the burgeoning out of school childcare workforce the first NOS for Playwork were developed in the early 1990s by a group of playwork experts and the Sector Skills Council for Playwork, now known as SkillsActive (Bonel and Lindon 1996).

NOS for Playwork

The existence of a separate set of NOS for Playwork is crucial to distinguish playwork from other approaches to working with children within what Hughes (2012) called the ‘primeval learning soup‘ of the wider children’s workforce. However the original playwork NOS and subsequent revisions have been criticised by some playwork authors for being too functional and for not describing playwork as a unique profession within its own right (see Davy, 2007; Wilson 2008). The current review has raised some interesting debates, not only about the development of the NOS for Playwork but also about the nature and purpose of playwork itself. Continue reading ‘JPP Editorial: Why Playwork is about much more than ‘space’’

Free extract: After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews

After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews publishes today and to celebrate we’re making the book’s Introduction free to access. So if you’re waiting for your pre-ordered copy to arrive or simply interested to find out more, read on…

Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews

Dr Dave O'Brien

Dave O’Brien

This edited collection has emerged from studies funded through the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC’s) ‘Connected Communities’ programme.

The first book to publish in the Connected Communities book series, it uses the evidence and knowledge created by a range of projects to explore two theses: first, that the UK, and England in particular, has now entered a ‘post-regeneration era’; and, second, that new relationships are being developed between academics, universities and ‘communities’, producing new kinds of knowledge.

Download the pdf of the full Introduction here.

Dr. Dave O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, at ICCE, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He hosts the New Books In Critical Theory podcast.

Dr. Peter Matthews is Lecturer in Social Policy at SASS, University of Stirling. He publishes widely in urban studies, planning, social policy and housing.

After urban regeneration [FC]After urban regeneration is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

So, whose land is our land?

In today’s guest post Peter Hetherington, author of Whose Land is our Land?, explains why he believes reform of land ownership is necessary to mitigate the approaching challenges posed for food, energy and housing by climate change.

Peter HetheringtonPeople often assume that those like me who advocate land reform, no matter how minimal, must be on one side of the political fence.

Calling for measures to clamp down on speculation driven by tax avoidance seems to only reinforce a belief by some that us moderates are quasi‐revolutionaries conspiring to end ownership as the establishment knows it – be they the old landed class or the newer rich seeking to offload spare millions.

Spiralling farm land prices

So it was, when I appeared on BBC Radio’s Today programme at the end of August, I suggested (sensibly, I thought) that spiralling farm land prices are serving the country badly and was met with a hostile ‘back to the old interventionist days’ response by a spokesman for the Country Land and Business Association (which has morphed from the Country Landowners’ Association but is still known as the ‘CLA’.)

Of course the spokesman was right to suggest that of the – say – 100,000‐plus acres of agricultural land sold annually in England only a small proportion involves the super rich seeking a safe, recession‐proof haven for their spare millions.

“…these new rich are driving up prices…making it even more difficult for young aspirants to get on the farming ladder”

However prices, according to land agents Savills, have risen by a staggering 277% in a decade, making agricultural land a much safer investment bet than prime central London property and gold. One driver is that agricultural land offers generous breaks on inheritance and capital gains tax: it is exempt from the former after two years, for instance, if it is actively farmed.

But the point is this: these new rich are driving up prices in the whole market, distorting prices and making it even more difficult for young aspirants – there are plenty of them ‐ to
get on the farming ladder.


I’ve been investigating issues around this land of ours for my book, ‘Whose Land is Our Land’. I’ve explored ownership and the old, landed rich through to the challenges of farming – with self‐sufficiency in the foods we are capable of growing falling when it could (and should) be rising.

I’ve looked at issues such as housing the nation, in the face of a ‘shadow’ unregistered market in which potential building land is being effectively rationed.

I’ve asked searching questions about our ill‐preparedness for addressing rising sea levels, induced by climate change, in our most productive farming area, the east of England. Various agencies, including the National Audit Office, warn that we face tough choices: either raising our flood defence investment, or abandoning big tracts of land.

“…public or charitable ownership equals ‘good’…is a gross over‐simplification”

One advantage of coming to this issue as a journalist – let’s be blunt, a ‘hack’ – and not as an academic is that, after interviewing scores of people (individual and institutional landowners, farmers, tenants, politicians) pre‐conceived ideas sometimes go to the wall.

Thus, public or charitable ownership equals ‘good’ and private ownership equals ‘bad’ is a gross over‐simplification. It so happens that the second largest landowner (and largest tenant farming landlord) , the National Trust, has been embroiled in a dispute with its tenants (and the Tenant the Farmers’ Association) more associated with private landlordism. There are, in short, good, bad, indifferent owners in all camps.

Ownership, in short, is no determinant of either progressive land use or tenure. So the good private landlord, progressively farming, has to be balanced against another owner who assumes that what is beneficial for the family firm is automatically good for the surrounding community. Generalisation can be dangerous.

Modest reform

Inevitably as a messenger, rather than a polemicist – and not a farming journalist – I have naturally relied on the help and guidance of others. Philip Lowe, professor of rural economy at Newcastle University, proved invaluable. His argument for modest reform, involving farmers and landowners abiding by a charter setting out rights and responsibilities to ensure the better use of all land proved compelling – particular after one expert in Norfolk (farmer of the year in 2014) spoke of his concern about slack practices on land farmed by contractors on behalf of the new rich.

Lowe’s other point is that farmers in receipt of generous rural payments, courtesy of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – overall delivering £2‐3 billions in subsidies annually in Britain – should be obliged to sign up to basic principles of responsible land management “specifying responsibilities to maintain the land in their care.”

And, so, back to tax.

“..we should be adapting to…the impact of climate change on that most basic resource: our land…”

On the basis of my investigations I believe that we are approaching a collision of extremes ‐ increasing demand for food, energy, water and housing – when we should be adapting to, and hopefully mitigating, the impact of climate change on that most basic resource: our land.

Sadly, our approach as a nation, through successive governments, is piecemeal and short term. In truth, England needs an active land policy to address feeding, watering and housing the nation.

In November I’m off to the Scottish Parliament, for an informal event based on my book, facilitated by the chair of its rural affairs committee. In Scotland reform is high on the Scottish Government’s agenda. It wants the power to intervene if the scale of ownership, and the conduct of a landowner, is seen as a “barrier to sustainable development.” And in England? I’ve just been to the annual conference of the governing party to try to find out.

Whose land is our land [FC]Whose land is our land? is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates


Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

The work on the Policy Press blog is licensed under a Creative Commons licence.

%d bloggers like this: