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In the last three decades, whilst the population of the United Kingdom has increased, this growth has not been evenly distributed. Cities and larger towns have in effect grown younger whilst towns and villages have aged. The table below shows the age and place distribution of population growth since 1981.
Subtley, in recent decades Britain has transformed. Our towns and cities have become, as the academics Will Jennings and Gerry Stoker put it, two England’s, with increasingly different views and priorities. This widening gulf was most starkly illustrated by Brexit but the differences go much wider on a range of social attitudes on issues from immigration to civil rights and political differences too.
The Centre for Towns is interested in understanding how public attitudes differ in different places; the concerns, aspirations and expectations of citizens living in towns and cities across the UK. Britain’s political geography is changing – and towns are at the centre of this tilting of the political axis.
For far too long the ambitions, needs and values of nine million people in towns across Britain have not been heard.
Our economic model treats cities as engines of growth, which at best drag surrounding towns along in their wake, causing life to become harder, less secure and less hopeful for too many people in towns in recent decades.