I saw a great piece on the long running and thorny issue of the North / South divide here in Mondays Guardian
As anyone who has lived in the south and the south east in particular can tell you there has been a problem for many years and over the years these problems have only got worse.
Local authorities are constantly being given housing allocations which they have to make provision for in their local plans even though they know that the infrastructure in their area can barely cope as it is.
Water and sewage systems are creaking and overloaded, the local road networks cannot cope and the local authority will have to make provision for a whole host of additional services for these new residents from schools to refuse disposal.
In the long run the cost of most of those additional services will not be covered by any planning gain agreements and the cost will have to be picked up by existing and new council tax payers or through cuts in other services.
Central government will also need to deal with the demands for other essential services such as Doctors, Dentists and Hospitals.
How about the problems with water supply in the South East this summer? There is plenty of water in the north but where are we going to be with water supplies in the south in 10 or 20 years time. If rainfall drops off because of global warming, we continue to have hotter and longer summers and usage continues to rise as more and more business and people are crammed into the south east corner of the country.
Public transport is also creaking in some areas, yes there are many areas where public transport is almost non existent but travel into London on most of the commuter lines and you can see that there is not much more capacity available.
Meanwhile less and less jobs are available in the north where unemployment is generally higher and allegedly whole streets in some of the most run down areas can be picked up for a few quid.
I have always felt that this is an issue that could only be tackled successfully through central government intervention. Of course you cannot force people to move from the South to the North but you only have to look at the North / South motorway network on Friday and Sunday evenings to see that there are a large number of people who work / live in the South who want to spend a lot of their leisure time in the North – primarily because that is where they are from originally and where many of their friends and relatives continue to reside. With the right incentives, jobs and infrastructure many of these people would be delighted to move North again instead of travelling backwards and forwards at weekends.
Who knows perhaps the government could invest in all these run down streets which are available at a cheap price and refurbish them to let or sell at a future date as demand for property in the North rises again once the infrastructure and jobs are in place.