London Olympics 2012: Let the Games End

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Why does anyone persist with the Greek mythology that the Olympics are an engine of economic development, sportsmanship, or peace on earth? London is spending $15 billion on the hope that it can sell enough tickets to synchronized swimming, and earn enough from television ads, to cover the costs of the 30,000 rent-a-cops and military personnel being deployed in the spirit of Olympic harmony.  read more »


Gentrification? Brixton's Angell Town Story

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In the US, urban planners talk about the 'redevelopment' of a neighborhood. In the UK, 'regeneration' is heard more often. What is the difference, from both the planner and the resident perspective? Are they both synonyms for 'gentrification'? Angell Town , a UK 'estate' in Brixton — it would be called a 'public housing project' by Americans — provides a good example of how these questions are answered in practice.  read more »

London’s Social Cleansing


Unscrupulous landlords are forcing poorer tenants out of their London homes, freeing them up to rent out to visitors to the Olympics this summer, according to the housing charity Shelter. At the same time, the government’s cap on rent subsidies (Housing Benefits) for those out of work or on low incomes threaten to force less well-off tenants out of the capital. Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales says that they will have to move people as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent if they are to meet their obligations to house the homeless.  read more »

Britain Fears a Developer’s Charter


The UK Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that there were only 127,780 new housing completions last year in Britain. British house building activity is down to levels of after the First World War, when reliable industrial records began, and still falling. In 1921 the British population was nearly back up to 43 million following the slaughter of the First World War. In 2011 the population of England, Wales, and Scotland is approaching 61 million people. By 2031 the British population is expected to be closer to 70 million.  read more »

It's Not the 1980s in Britain Anymore


Britain’s public sector workers came out on a one day strike last week over government plans to raid their pension funds. Government ministers did the rounds of television studios denouncing the strikers as mindless militants. Both sides are echoing the class struggles of the Thatcher-era, but the truth is that it’s not the 1980s.  read more »

Mass Transit: Could Raising Fares Increase Ridership?

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Conventional wisdom dictates that keeping transit fares as low as possible will promote high ridership levels. That isn't entirely incorrect. Holding all else constant, raising fares would have a negative impact on ridership. But allowing the market to set transit fares, when coupled with a number of key reforms could actually increase transit ridership, even if prices increase. In order to implement these reforms, we would need to purge from our minds the idea that public transit is a welfare service that ought to be virtually free in order to accommodate the poor.  read more »

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War


The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself.  read more »

Growing a Productive Urban Economy


Suggestions that we can grow the Auckland, NZ economy by encouraging business into the central business district (CBD) in the interests of innovation do not reflect the weight of experience.  Sure, higher order professions have tended to concentrate there, and become relatively more important as manufacturing, retailing, and distribution have decamped.  And in Auckland, at least, tertiary education has become a major player in the CBD.  University employment has boosted the scientific as well as education sector.  read more »

The High Speed Rail Battle of Britain


A high speed rail battle is brewing in Great Britain, not unlike the controversies that have lit up the political switchboard in the United States over the past six months.

The Department for Transport has announced a plan to build a "Y" shaped high speed rail route that would connect Leeds and Manchester, to Birmingham, with a shared line on to London and London's Heathrow Airport.  read more »

Britain's Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions


British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade.   Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.

We are nearly at the lowest level of housing production since reliable records began in the 1920s. (Note 1)    read more »