Articles

Our National Parks at seventy

October 11, 2019

This autumn marks the 70th anniversary of the passage of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The then Minister of Town and Country Planning, Lewis Silkin, described it as ‘the most exciting Act of the post War Parliament’ (1) A big claim, but it was certainly of a piece with the Labour […]

A Green New Deal: can it fly?

August 3, 2019

Readers with long memories will recall the Green New Deal group that produced series of proposals more than a decade ago including a booklet entitled ‘Green New deal’ (1). Convened by the New Economics Foundation, it set out an ambitious set of proposals for a just climate transition in the dying days of the last […]

Hello disaster capitalism?

April 18, 2019

It is twelve years since Naomi Klein first coined the term ‘disaster capitalism’ (1). She was describing   the way corporations and the politicians linked to them, especially but not exclusively in the USA, used disasters, whether they be climate-related, military interventions or coups, major terrorist attacks, or other moments of crisis as opportunities to drastically […]

Poverty, planning and homelessness

January 6, 2019

Once in a while political events or public policy pronouncements and developments ‘on the ground’ coincide to reinforce each other. Theresa May’s calamitous General Election and the appalling tragedy of the Grenfell Tower disaster in early June 2017 are a case in point, the latter reinforcing the sense, post-election of an out of touch government […]

Place-based industrial strategies and ‘guerilla localism’

September 28, 2018

When I started writing a column in ‘Town & Country Planning’ in 1986 it was called ‘Futurework’ because I reported on new initiatives and developments in the world of work, particularly amongst co-operatives, initiatives in local economic development, and the gradually emerging ‘green economy’. The column’s title was taken from a book of the same […]

The Child in the City

July 20, 2018

The Summer’s warm sunshine and cool breezes have brought people out into the street and the parks in numbers, and it has been a rather joyful experience after what has seemed like an interminable winter. Flowers, blossom, plants and birds have responded in kind; a profusion of sound and colour.  Seeing children outside enjoying the […]

The Nature of Prosperity

April 11, 2018

It was Oscar Wilde who said that ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.’ It was in this spirit that Surrey University’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and the William Morris  Society convened a symposium in London in February entitled ‘The nature of […]

Learning lessons from Donald Trump’s America

December 19, 2017

During 2017 two countries signed up to the 2015 Paris Accords – Nicaragua and Syria and one, the USA  pulled out – though the formal process means  it won’t actually leave until the day after the next Presidential election. The USA is a global outlier on this – as on much else, gun control, abortion […]

Doughnut economics

October 8, 2017

There is a long tradition of books about what is wrong with conventional economics; ‘Limits to Growth’ for example, was published 45 years ago.  The intervening years have seen quite a few of their ideas absorbed into mainstream thinking and some of their prophesies come to fruition. But It is a cause of frustration to […]

Martin Parr’s ‘Oxford’: Fawlty Towers meets Trump Towers

September 14, 2017

Martin Parr’s Latest exhibition ‘Oxford’, has just opened as part of Photo Oxford 2017 at the Bodleian Library’s Weston Library.  This exhibition won’t disappoint Parr fans, but it raises some awkward questions for its sponsors, Oxford University Press (OUP) and the Bodleian Library – especially the accompanying book. Parr was commissioned to take a characteristic […]