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For communities on the periphery, whether on the coast or the edge of town, local centres for employment, shopping and services often are – or feel like they are – a long way away. What are the specific connectivity challenges faced by ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods?

Informed by the latest research by OCSI and the Campaign for Better Transport, this session will examine investment priorities to level up outcomes by joining up our communities. Is it buses, light rail or gigabit broadband? And what scope is there for hyper-local transport initiatives – from on-demand buses to community-owned driverless electric car pools?

Our speakers 

Briefing

APPG Session 5 briefing

This briefing provides an overview of the connectivity issues facing England’s 225 ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. Drawing on the latest OCSI data dive, and new APPG research commissioned from the Campaign for Better Transport, it explores how ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods are often more isolated from public services including hospitals and job opportunities, and face challenges related to digital connectivity and online access.

OCSI connectivity data dive for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods

A ‘data dive’ research report for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods into the economic characteristics of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.

ContextGeneral

  • 2020 National Infrastructure Strategy. HM Treasury (2020). The Government’s new National Infrastructure Strategy. It sets out some of the major strategic spending decisions for this Parliament including High Speed Rail, Bus services and the roll out of broadband. 
  • COVID-19 Recovery: renewing the transport system. Campaign for Better Transport (2020). This report looks at the impact that COVID-19 has had on public transport in the UK before setting out some key recommendations for how better transport links can improve connectivity whilst also supporting local economies and the environment as well.
  • Spending Review 2020. HM Teasury (2020). The spending review sets out the government’s capital spending over the next year. In particular, it notes several key infrastructure spending priorities. It also outlines the new Levelling Up Fund, which is a £4bn Fund designed to invest in projects at a more local level. 
  • The Effect of COVID-19 on Our Towns. Centre for Towns (2020). This report notes the impact that COVID-19 has had in isolating many in our towns generally, and those in coastal communities in particular. 
  • Transport Deserts: the absence of transport choice in England’s small towns. Campaign for Better Transport (2020). This report, supported by CPRE, the Countryside Charity, looks at the importance of public transport in Britain’s small and rural towns. It finds that many small towns have been affected by the long-term decline of bus services and that this has left people isolated, adding to social exclusion, impacting people’s health and creating ‘no-go’ areas where people have limited or no access to any form of public transport. 
  • House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities: report of session 2017-2019. (2019). This report delves into the issues surrounding coastal communities in the UK. One of the key findings is that our seaside towns are becoming increasingly isolated and that connectivity, both physical and digital, is vital to improving prospects in these places.
  • Strategic Transport Plan for the North. Transport for the North (2019). This short report sets out the work that Transport for the North have been doing as well as their strategic plans to boost connectivity across the North of England and the broad improvements that they hope this will bring to the region. 
  • About Towns: how transport can help towns thrive. Urban Transport Group (2018). This report highlights the value that good public transport can bring to isolated towns across the country. It highlights both the benefits of connecting towns to larger economic actors in cities as well as the vital role that the transport sector can play in employing residents and acting as community anchors. The key finding of the report is that capital investment alone cannot improve the prospects of our towns; we need an holistic approach to transport and connectivity.

Buses

  • A Better Deal for Bus Users. Department of Transport (2020). This press release from the Department of Transport previews some of the government’s upcoming decisions on the new Bus Strategy. It sets out the full £220m committed to the bus strategy including £20m for the West Midlands and the announcement that Cornwall will have the first Superbus network. 
  • Bus Services Outside of London. Transport Select Committee (2019). The Transport Select Committee here reports on the decline of bus services outside of London and sets out its recommendations to the government around how to improve accessibility and affordability of services. It was this report that also led to the government’s plans for a national bus strategy. 

Broadband

  • Exploring the UK’s Digital Divide. ONS (2019). A report from the ONS looking into the scale of digital exclusion in the UK; those who aren’t currently using the internet, how digital skills vary for different groups of the population and some of the barriers to digital inclusion.
  • Doing Digital Inclusion: low income families. The Good Things Foundation (2018). This report sets out the learning from 23 workshops run by the Good Things Foundation in partnership with TalkTalk supporting low income families to develop digital skills and stay safe online. It provides several helpful recommendations for local community groups or local authorities to develop ICT skills locally.
  • Left Behind Neighbourhoods and Digital Poverty amongst Older People. Geographic Data Science Lab – University of Liverpool (2021). This brief written by Dr Darlington-Pollock and colleagues focusses on the experience of older people with regards to digital inequalities. It makes a comparison between older residents from left-behind neighbourhoods and those from deprived non-left behind ones. It also provides useful information on digital poverty indicators and a typology of users.

Beeching

  • Connecting Communities with Railways: the community rail development strategy. Department of Transport (2020). This strategy sets out how the government will protect community rail organisations to flourish so that they can continue to protect local lines, provide a voice for the community and promote sustainable, healthy and accessible travel. 
  • The Case for Expanding the Rail Network. Campaign for Better Transport (2019). This report details the case of expanding the rail network in the UK, going beyond the case for simply reopening the Beeching lines; outlining how such an expansion could benefit our social fabric, the economy and the environment. 
  • The Value of Community Rail. Association of Community Rail Partnerships (2019). Community rail partnerships are the network of residents and volunteers who connect their communities to the local train-lines. This report highlights that there are 61 community rail partnerships working along whole lines or across regions, plus at least 1,000 locally-focused, station-based groups. It calculates the social value that these partnerships bring to their communities and the economic benefit that this brings to the railways more generally.
  • Rail Devolution Works. Urban Transport Group (2017). This report sets out the benefits that various areas across the UK have gained from the devolution of power over our railways. It lists several case studies as well as highlighting the main features that have helped devolved train networks to thrive. 

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