Hinterland - 06 January 2020

Happy New Year!!! In Hinterland this week: potholes, fly-tippers and rogue landlords on the negative side of the account; almshouses and rural cosmopolitans on the plus side and a reminder that sadly, there is no easy route to post Christmas weight loss….

*         *          *

Beckbury residents vent pothole anger

This article could relate to any rural county and reflects an ongoing financial challenge, likened to the individual in this piece to a rural tax. It tells us:

Residents in a Shropshire village say potholes are so common they amount to "tax" on rural drivers.

Businessman Ian Field, who lives in Beckbury, says he has spent £6,000 on vehicle repairs in the last two years.

He has written to the government with a dossier of photographs showing a dozen large potholes.

He says they are strewn across all major routes into the village and many of them are deep, posing a danger to vehicles.

"I’d go as far to say that this is akin to an additional tax for residents or a small business operating in a rural area – you simply wouldn’t have this in a major town," he said.

A Shropshire Council spokesman said the local authority was "working hard to identify and tackle potholes and other defects".

He said the number of potholes typically increase by about a fifth at this time of year and the recent weather had "amplified the problem".


The rise of the rural cosmopolitan

This slightly different article has a very interesting tale to tell about the growth of a trendy countryside. It tells us:

Recent ONS data shows that over the past decade the average age of those moving from London to the countryside has dropped by 11 years, from 48 to 37 years old – and the numbers leaving in their thirties increased by a whopping 89%. London is now the only region of England where more people are leaving than arriving from within the country – only international arrivals are keeping the population steady. With London house prices still sky high, and the Ministry of Housing planning 300,000 new house builds every year from the mid 2020s (the majority outside London), the exodus is almost certain to continue.

But it’s not just about house prices. Better technology means remote working has never been easier, there’s greater workplace flexibility and access to more freelance talent – in short there’s the opportunity to create a better quality of life, without compromising on the career.

So, as well as big innovative employers outside London, there are plenty of other creative, entrepreneurs making waves. Redemption Roasters coffee blenders, now popular amongst hipsters, was born in an Aylesbury prison. Stylish, expanding boutique hotel groups like Artist Residence and The Pig before them are adding pockets of urban taste to the regions. Howie’s and The Do Lectures emanated from west Wales. Brewdog came from Fraserburgh, population 13,100. Even Shetland has its own Centre for Rural Creativity.


Tougher penalties needed to curb surge in fly-tipping, say councils

I hate fly-tippers with a passion, having just taken 4 bags of a surfeit of Christmas rubbish to the tip! This article tells us:

Fly-tipping has increased by 50% in the last six years, prompting councils to call for much bigger penalties for offenders.

More than a million incidents of illegal rubbish dumping were recorded in the financial year 2018-19, which cost councils £58m to clean up. Most incidents involved household waste being jettisoned from cars or vans by the side of a road.

The maximum fine for fly-tipping is £50,000 and/or a five-year prison sentence. But 83% of the court-imposed fines in the last six years were below £500. Only two people have been given the maximum fine since new guidelines were introduced in 2014.

Councils are handing out more on-the-spot fines and pursuing more prosecutions. Offending vehicles can be seized and in some cases are crushed. The number seized jumped to 207 last year. However, councils have lost 60% of their central government funding since 2010, meaning less money is available for action against fly-tippers.

“Fly-tipping is not only an illegal, inexcusable and ugly blight on society, it is a serious public health risk,” said David Renard, the environment spokesman for the Local Government Association and leader of Swindon borough council. “Councils are determined to crack down on the problem. However, tougher sentences are needed to act as a stronger deterrent to criminals dumping waste.


Councils awarded share of £4m to tackle rogue landlords and letting agents

I think my relatively local MP, Robert Jenrick, is fronting up a number of really interesting initiatives, this might be much “smaller beer” than the towns fund work he has initiated but I believe it’s an important step and not something which is relevant just to urban authorities. This story tells us:

A government offer of £4m for councils to crack down on rogue landlords has been dismissed as a “drop in the ocean” which will not be enough to end exploitation of vulnerable renters.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the money would be shared between more than 100 councils across England to tackle landlords who flout the law by offering inadequate or unsafe homes.

Mr Jenrick said the scheme, whose funding was announced in November, would help deliver “a better deal for renters".

"It's completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect - making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives," he said.

"Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure, and the funding announced today will strengthen councils' powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country."


Return of almshouses for the vulnerable could help solve Britain's housing crisis 

A fascinating article, showing that a number of very old social policies are still very important!! This story tells us:

They have been in existence for more than 1000 years, with the oldest surviving one opened as far back as 990 in Worcester in order to provide a home for the infirm, needy and vulnerable.

But charitable almshouses are now being built at their fastest rate in decades, with a thousand new homes being created in the last 10 years, so much so they are being seen as an effective way of helping to tackle the shortage of social housing.

The Almshouse Association says it has recorded the biggest spike in development of housing run by charities since the Victorian era, with more being built to offer accommodation for elderly people who struggle financially in their retirement.

The oldest almshouse still in existence is the Hospital of St Oswald, in Worcester, which was founded in 990. There are 30,000 other individual almshouse homes dotted around the country, often built around a communal courtyard or garden, providing homes for 36,000 people.

Now another 700 are being built or are in the pipeline, with extensions of existing buildings and new developments in places such as Southwark, south London; Wokingham; the North East and Colchester.


And Finally

Scrap 'quick-fix diets and tea-toxes' this New Year

A salutary “And Finally” lest you are hoping for a quick fix to slimming off the impact of any Christmas excess!!!

If your New Year resolution is to lose some weight, avoid fad diets, because they don't work and can be harmful, says NHS England's top doctor.

Diet pills, "tea-toxes" and appetite suppressant products are no quick fix, says Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director.

Products making this claim can have side-effects, including diarrhoea and heart issues, he warns.

Getting in shape safely takes time and requires eating sensibly, and exercise.

As the public gets ready for New Year's Eve, Prof Powis also warned of the dangers of "party drips" or quick fix hangover cures.


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.