IAN HART: Divide between north and south still exists

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

Over the years much has been made of the north/south divide, from house prices to the cost of a pint, there has been a school of thought in certain quarters that anyone north of Watford is looked upon as some kind of poor relation.

A tad harsh and ultimately stereotypical, having lived in the ‘frozen’ north in the mid 1980’s I found, with the exception of the accents, the differences were minimal, apart from one thing that I did notice. In the street where my mate’s mum lived, in South Manchester, I noticed fairly early on that in time-honoured, almost Coronation Street fashion, everyone was in and out of each other’s houses. That was until a teenage neighbour of my mate gained entry after dark and left with a 28-inch colour TV and VHS recorder!

But the divide again surfaced earlier this week on the ITV news. First and foremost can I state that whenever anyone, regardless of where they live in the UK, loses their job it’s devastating, so news that the British steel industry faces drastic job losses is not good.

ITV featured Scunthorpe, in Lincolnshire, and Motherwell, in Scotland, where Indian Steel producers TATA were looking to lose almost all of its 1,800 workforce as a result of the collapse of the worldwide steel price and cheap Chinese imported steel.

To re-iterate, not good news, but again highlighted attitudes and perceptions in the UK and backing up something Sir Peter Bottomley said to me a few years ago. When Norwich Union pulled the plug on its site at the Warren a lot more jobs than 1,800 went. The same could be said for the demise of Lloyds Bank registrars and the apparent dismantling of a large number of the work force on the Inland Revenue site at Barrington Road.

But did Worthing feature in the national news on the particular day in question?

When the coal industry all but disappeared in this country, with numerous pit closures, parts of Wales and Northern England received large rejuvenation grants from the EU. Local job losses over the years have been comparable with a number of pit closures, but did West Sussex get any additional money from Europe?

As Sir Peter pointed out that day there is still very much a north/south divide, but not in the way some people might think.

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