As one of the largest policy and practice institutions in the UK to be town-based, the Carnegie UK Trust is interested in the innovation, regeneration and sustainability of towns.
Our Turnaround Towns project has examined international examples of towns that have successfully gone through a transformation process, and considered what learning can be drawn for towns in the UK and Ireland. Over summer 2017, the Trust convened two roundtable events in Wales in partnership with WCVA, to share learning from the Turnaround Towns research, and test its resonance with key stakeholders. Based on our roundtable discussions, we have set out recommendations for Welsh and local government, the voluntary and business sectors, and individuals and communities themselves with an interest in the wellbeing of their towns.
Our Searching for Space: What place for towns in public policy? report examines the main policies and initiatives designed to improve outcomes in places across the UK and Ireland. The report finds that while there are well-developed policies designed to progress cities and rural hinterlands, and often powerful groups working on their behalf, towns are a neglected area of public policy.
This is an opportune time to be looking at what works to support innovative policy and practice for towns. The 2016 World Towns Leadership Summit and resulting World Towns Framework have re-energised the global debate and policy agenda around towns, while a number of promising initiatives are emerging across the UK and Ireland.
Brexit is a change, which might provide opportunities for increased focus and funding for towns. In 2018, we released New Powers, New Deals: Remaking British Towns after Brexit which analyses the link between towns and the Brexit vote, with towns more likely to vote leave than cities. The leave vote was arguably a “vote of discontent” strongly felt by towns that either have not flourished over decades or have recently grown so fast that their services like schools, health or transport failed to keep up with what people want and need. The question now is how can policy makers support towns in this time of change and ensure their view is not confined to cities and rural areas.