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The British countryside is painted either as a rustic idyll or a dull surrogate for the excitement of city life, depending on your taste. For me it was constantly the latter. I was born and brought up in Somerset, and from about as early as I can remember I wished to escape.
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This was generally passed on to me in terms of having kids: “you will not wish to bring kids up in the city”. And overall, financial outcomes do tend to be better for those living in backwoods than for those living in cities. 15% of families in backwoods reside in relative hardship, for instance, compared to 22% in metropolitan locations.
Yet among the lessons from the Brexit referendum was the extent to which data can belie reality. The pre-referendum period now feels like ancient history, but Britain in the first half of 2016 was said to be on the ‘roadway to healing’ after a long economic downturn. News broadcasts were filled with great cheer about the ‘record variety of people’ in work, and so on.
Certainly, a striking spectacle in the consequences of the referendum was the wave of liberal journalists voyaging to the north of England in a manner reminiscent of 1930s depression-era composing finding, in truth, that a lot of their fellow countrymen were leading dissatisfied and unfulfilling lives. If anyone had actually bothered to look, they would have seen this had actually been true all along.</p
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This attitude is decades out of date, if it was ever accurate in the first place. A 2017 joint report by the Regional Federal Government Association and Public Health England notes that “within even the most upscale [rural] locations, there can be genuine hardship, deprivation, ill health and inequalities”, in specific due to seasonal work and bad access to services.
In Scotland almost a quarter of post offices have closed because 2002. Rural communities suffer from poorer gain access to to even allegedly universal services: while 98% of the metropolitan population live within 4 kilometres of a GP surgery, the figure is 80 percent for those living in backwoods. Additionally, just 55% of rural families live within 8 kilometres of a health center, compared to 97% of metropolitan families.
Yet in backwoods broadband is typically irregular throughout the time it’s taken to write this post my Somerset broadband has actually dropped off two times, for 10 minutes at a time. According to Ofcom, rural broadband speeds come in at around 13.7 Mbps, which is more than three times slower than metropolitan locations.
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Internet gain access to is just one aspect in identifying the opportunities offered to people. Opportunity also associates with a university education. In the village I matured in, unless a position in the household organisation waited for once you completed school, to get a well-paying task you needed to leave. When young people pick to invest their most efficient years elsewhere it hastens the decrease of rural economies.
People aged 45 years and above now comprise more than half of those living in backwoods in metropolitan locations it is better to 40%. A lot of these older citizens depend upon public transport, which has actually suffered serious cuts in backwoods in current years due to the unprofitability of out-of-the-way services.
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Last year Somerset County Council announced it would be ditching Saturday Park and Ride services in Taunton, and Webberbus, among Somerset’s greatest bus operators, collapsed totally in 2016, leading to the disappearance of 24 services throughout the county. Solutions like these are a lifeline for the senior, who depend on local buses to go to stores and gain access to services without them they’re isolated.
For one thing, certain sort of drugs particularly marijuana were much more common in the corner of Somerset I matured in than when I moved to Nottingham in my early twenties, a city that was allegedly the ‘gun criminal activity capital’ of the UK. Additionally, in current years there have been reports of drug gangs progressively targeting rural communities to enhance revenues.
Maybe due to the fact that there is less to do in the countryside, particularly in winter, the use of recreational drugs has a more obvious appeal. The West Nation smokes more marijuana than anywhere else in the UK. Marijuana growers also appear to prefer rural to metropolitan locations, with 55,166 plant seizures in the north west in 2017 compared to 19,397 in London.
The air is less polluted than in the city. Criminal activity rates are lower. And while the sense of local neighborhood fetishised by outsiders may be overemphasized, in many locations, for better or even worse (you understand everyone, but everyone knows you), it does exist. Yet this idyllic view of cleaner, safer countryside communities disregards a darker side.
Educational achievement among disadvantaged kids is far even worse in rural and seaside locations London boroughs dominate the Social Movement Commission’s list of schools in which poorer students achieve the very best results. And for those without a university education, London life a minimum of uses the remote possibility of an internship to get a foot in the door at a company.
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In common with the nation’s ‘left behind’ towns, up to now precious little interest has actually been shown in exploring the deprivations of the British countryside. Turn on a television set and rural life is depicted as an acceptable and serene Eden green fields and attractive nation lanes confined by hedges and songbirds where one can hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, and travel to a close-by retail park on the weekend, to paraphrase Marx.
Rural communities have their own share of social problems; the idea of the ‘distressed’ central city versus ‘our green and enjoyable land’ is hopelessly old-fashioned. I must understand like many young people I made the reverse journey to the one generally depicted in popular culture: I ran away to London to escape.