The environmental harm done by population growth is a major issue for Wessex. But we are increasingly destroying the green fields and woods of Wessex merely to provide homes for outsiders. Less than 20% of population growth in Wessex is “natural”; over 80% is due to migration. International and internal UK movements each added 40% to the growth. However, there is a dramatic divergence between drivers of urban and rural population growth: in the 13 towns or cities with over 100,000 people local growth accounted for 50% of that growth; but the rural area saw a massive 75% of its growth coming from within the UK; and only 5% local population growth. Many villages, towns and “select” suburbs of cities in Wessex are seeing local people forced out of their communities as house prices become unaffordable under pressure from “upsizing” from neighbouring cities, retirees, second-home owners and commuters. Many of these incomers, particularly in rural and coastal areas, are older people who place high demands on health and social care services. The result is that ‘balanced communities’ are fast disappearing. Multi-generational families sharing care responsibilities become impossible to sustain if younger family members have to move away. Public services and other essential, but low-paid work, cannot function, or workers have to commute long distances. What is needed is a lasting solution to migration flows that currently are less than ideal for migrants and for receiving areas. We need regional rebalancing within the UK and to remove the ‘push’ factor driving international flows. That means more intelligent use of overseas aid and an end to state sponsorship of the arms trade. It also means making immigration free from exploitation – of people and poorer countries.
Note: most of the information available on this subject comes from wide ranging academic reports for historical information and from central government records for modern detail. Little is available on a purely Wessex basis although wherever found this has been used. Most information that is available for internal UK migration, for example, does not make it possible to distinguish between truly local migration e.g. someone moving from Bristol to Portishead or Hedge End to Southampton – but all within a few miles, from migration from London or elsewhere into Wessex.
Short Term – campaigning within the UK – Wessex Regionalists will:
Campaign for more responsible policies that ensure:
- International Aid is used for the real and lasting benefit of recipients, not in the interest of UK business; a particular campaign target would be to ensure more healthcare professionals are encouraged to stay and help in sub-Saharan African countries.
- foreign policies that are used more intelligently to improve the lives of people in less developed countries,
- an end to state sponsorship of the arms trade
- greater expenditure on raising educational standards and opportunities, including education for life and training
- the detrimental effect of mass immigration on the environment of Wessex is exposed and resisted
- real regional rebalancing, led from within the regions – not half-hearted attempts at levelling-up that in practice promote London’s agenda (e.g. HS2)
- planning and taxation prioritise local communities, not commuters, weekenders or retirees
Long Term – in a fully devolved region – Wessex Regionalists will:
- give local counties and districts powers to operate a two-tier housing market (as in Guernsey) to ensure affordable housing remains available to satisfy local need.
- give undocumented migrants a path to citizenship; give them time to reveal themselves and then deal – humanely – with their status. Some will fail but at all times they would be treated as unique human beings, and with respect and within the law.
- restrict the number of international students given visas to study; all courses must have a majority of internal students before places are offered elsewhere.
- encourage Wessex universities to establish campuses overseas to take education nearer to those who seek it at less cost to international students.