Friday, March 02, 2007

Corby - Hideously White.

The town of Corby in Northamptonshire, which was voted the 9th crappest town in Britain, is too white for the Prison Service whose spokesdroid justifies an imminent move to Leicester by saying that the latter city has the "ability to attract a more diverse workforce - 93.7 per cent of the population of Corby are white British, compared to 59.6 per cent in Leicester.". Why race should be a factor in recruiting a workforce is not explained.

I live fairly near to the town. Corby is almost a Scottish enclave within England with Rangers and Celtic shirts outnumbering Man Utd and Liverpool shirts on the streets and the Church of Scotland is more visible than the Church of England. This is because for many years it was basically a medium sized village until a steel company moved there from Glasgow 50 years ago and brought their Scottish workforce with them, and the town grew around the steel industry which went into a terminal decline about 20 years ago leaving widespread unemployment in its wake and a set of social problems that were more akin to those of the Dumbarton and Paisley than to those of neighbouring towns like Kettering and Daventry. Politically it has been fairly loyal to Labour with the council remaining Labour at the height of Thatcherism and only electing Tory MPs because of the surrounding rural villages, this might I change pretty dramatically at the next election, their Labour MP will be adding to Corby's unemployment problem very soon. Latterly Eastern Europeans live there as well, presumably attracted by the Soviet looking town centre.

It is somewhere that needs jobs and investment. Leicester on the other hand is a larger and more prosperous location than Corby and has been growing very comfortably for several years. On almost any criteria Corby needs large employers more than Leicester, but because Leicester is more 'diverse' it loses out.

The assumption that because Leicester has a lot of Asians it needs extra government investment is bizarre. There are Cities in England with large Asian populations which have social problems but those are up North in places like Bradford, Blackburn and Oldham, and the commitment of civil servants to boosting ethnic recruitment suddenly dissapates if it means they have to live in depressed former cotton towns without an acceptable array of middle class amenities.

PS. The prison service claim that other factors like transport links and the interests of the tax payer were more important factors, given that Corby is a far cheaper place to buy property than Leicester and has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in the UK this strikes me as preposterous.

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