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The British countryside is painted either as a rustic idyll or a boring surrogate for the excitement of city life, depending upon your taste. For me it was always the latter. I was born and brought up in Somerset, and from about as early as I can remember I wanted to escape.
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This was usually communicated to me in terms of having children: “you won’t want to bring children up in the city”. And in general, financial outcomes do tend to be better for those living in backwoods than for those living in cities. 15% of households in backwoods live in relative hardship, for example, compared to 22% in urban locations.
Yet one of the lessons from the Brexit referendum was the degree to which stats can belie reality. The pre-referendum duration now seems like ancient history, however Britain in the first half of 2016 was said to be on the ‘road to recovery’ after a long economic downturn. News broadcasts were filled with good cheer about the ‘record number of people’ in work, and so on.
Certainly, a striking phenomenon in the consequences of the referendum was the wave of liberal journalists voyaging to the north of England in a way similar to 1930s depression-era writing discovering, in fact, that a number of their fellow compatriots were leading dissatisfied and unfulfilling lives. If anybody had troubled to look, they would have seen this had been real all along.</p
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This mindset is decades out of date, if it was ever accurate in the first place. A 2017 joint report by the Regional Government Association and Public Health England notes that “within even the most upscale [rural] locations, there can be real hardship, deprivation, ill health and inequalities”, in specific due to seasonal work and bad access to services.
In Scotland nearly a quarter of post offices have actually closed because 2002. Rural neighborhoods struggle with poorer gain access to to even supposedly universal services: while 98% of the urban population live within 4 kilometres of a GP surgical treatment, the figure is 80 percent for those living in backwoods. Furthermore, simply 55% of rural households live within 8 kilometres of a medical facility, compared to 97% of urban households.
Yet in backwoods broadband is frequently irregular during the time it’s taken to write this article my Somerset broadband has dropped off twice, for 10 minutes at a time. According to Ofcom, rural broadband speeds come in at around 13.7 Mbps, which is more than 3 times slower than urban locations.
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Web gain access to is simply one factor in identifying the opportunities available to people. Chance also associates with a university education. In the town I matured in, unless a position in the family business waited for once you completed school, to get a well-paying task you needed to leave. When youths select to spend their most productive years somewhere else it speeds up the decline of rural economies.
People aged 45 years and above now make up over half of those living in backwoods in urban locations it is more detailed to 40%. Much of these older homeowners depend upon public transportation, which has suffered serious cuts in backwoods recently due to the unprofitability of far-off services.
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In 2015 Somerset County Council revealed it would be scrapping Saturday Park and Trip services in Taunton, and Webberbus, one of Somerset’s most significant bus operators, collapsed completely in 2016, leading to the disappearance of 24 services across the county. Solutions like these are a lifeline for the senior, who rely on regional buses to check out stores and gain access to services without them they’re isolated.
For something, particular type of drugs especially marijuana were far more widespread in the corner of Somerset I matured in than when I relocated to Nottingham in my early twenties, a city that was supposedly the ‘gun criminal activity capital’ of the UK. Furthermore, recently there have actually been reports of drug gangs significantly targeting rural neighborhoods to increase revenues.
Possibly because there is less to do in the countryside, especially in winter, making use of leisure drugs has a more apparent appeal. The West Nation smokes more marijuana than anywhere else in the UK. Cannabis growers also appear to prefer rural to urban 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 offense rates are lower. And while the sense of regional neighborhood fetishised by outsiders may be exaggerated, in numerous locations, for better or even worse (you know everyone, however everyone knows you), it does exist. Yet this idyllic view of cleaner, more secure countryside neighborhoods neglects a darker side.
Educational attainment amongst disadvantaged children is far even worse in rural and seaside locations London boroughs dominate the Social Mobility Commission’s list of schools in which poorer pupils achieve the very best outcomes. 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 business.
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In common with the country’s ‘left behind’ towns, up to now valuable little interest has been displayed in exploring the deprivations of the British countryside. Switch on a television and rural life is portrayed as an agreeable and serene Eden green fields and stunning country lanes confined by hedges and songbirds where one can hunt in the early morning, fish in the afternoon, and travel to a neighboring retail park on the weekend, to paraphrase Marx.
Rural neighborhoods have their own share of social problems; the idea of the ‘struggling’ central city versus ‘our green and pleasant land’ is hopelessly antiquated. I need to know like numerous youths I made the reverse journey to the one usually portrayed in popular culture: I left to London to leave.