Thursday, 18 March 2010

Anomie and social cohesion

This map shows anomie, a measure of social cohesion, as recorded in a study of social and spatial inequalities at Sheffield University in 2008. The study was called Changing UK and looked at social inequalities comparing them with previous measures.

The darker the area, the greater the anomie, the less cohesive the community.

For the whole of the UK the strongest communities are all now weaker than the weakest measured in 1971.

The area of England identified as having the worst social cohesion in the study was Hyde Park and Headingley in Leeds.

And that is before they close our high school!

Councils have a statutory duty to support and build community cohesion and it is time to remind our elected councillors that they were elected by their communities, and it is their communities they are elected to serve, not central government.

Unfortunately, Leeds City Council has decided to ignore this study in favour of the Leeds Neighbourhood Index which puts Hyde Park firmly in the 'average' category for everything but Environment, Education and Housing.
This is because it does not take into account the way the huge student body skews the outcomes for this area - for example, health is average or better because we have so many more fit, able bodied young people in the ward; the fact that these young people are only short term residents doesn't count. Similarly, the measure of low income is skewed because it is based on claims for Council Tax Benefit and students are exempt so don't claim.

Perhaps it is time for the wards of Headingley and Hyde Park to get together and find a way to rebuild our communities without reference to political parties.
Perhaps it is time to create our own party and stand up for ourselves like the independents of Morley.

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