Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their economicky from their economic E.
This week we bring you the latest developments in local government virtual reality, as we spend a day in the life of a Doncaster Council officer. We also welcome the arrival of a new think tank on towns in PPP, and find out which values groups are turned on and off by healthy eating.
We also look at the scary prospect of what might happen if the FBI’s Russia investigation proves its case and it’s ignored, before turning up the light-heartedness dimmer switch in Charlie’s Attic, which this week features the map of every record shop in the world, and the link between Harry Potter and being a good person.
We wrote a couple of weeks ago about the launch of the Centre for Towns, a new independent organisation providing research and analysis of Britain’s towns. Their Twitter page is a veritable feast of enlightening data about our towns and cities, how they’re made up and how they are changing.
One chart that caught our eye in particular was the change in age breakdowns of different types of conurbations. In particular we were interested by the arresting illustration above of the widening age gap between our big cities and towns and villages overall. The chart obviously points to a continuing shift in demographic imbalance between urban and rural Britain, but it also brings to mind broader questions about demographic change.
Friend of TCC and father of Mosaic, Professor Richard Webber, has developed the excellent Origins software, which allows you to follow changes in the minority ethnic population in different areas over a five year period (example maps can be found here). This lets local authorities and other bodies be one step ahead of the game in understanding who their residents are, and the specific needs that have to be considered as people move in and out of the area.
Both Origins’ ethno-cultural data and Centre for Towns’ work on age show the importance of understanding, at a granular level, the nature and potential impact of change in a rapidly evolving world.
To mark local government’s #OurDay celebration of the people who keep our communities running, Donny’s Twitter account gave us mere mortals the chance to spend a day in a council officer’s shoes. The first experience takes you into the Enforcement Team, including a call-out to a rubber chicken emergency, while the second sees you join the Wellbeing Team at a food bank.
The game is of course just a bit of fun, but it is also the latest example of councils using social media, among other channels, to bring residents into contact with the organisation and show it is more than a faceless organisation. This can only lead to stronger engagement and a move in the direction, as we’ve advocated, from one-way information flow to two-way conversation.
Good news for coffee consumers out this week – three cups a day may have health benefits. The research from the University of Southampton found a lower risk of liver disease, some cancers and dying of stroke in coffee drinkers – but, alas, no hard proof that coffee was the cause.
Who will be reacting to this news with keen interest, and who will be shrugging their shoulders in apathy? We fixed ourselves a round of double espressos and took them down to the Values Lab to find out.
% who strongly agree that…
It’s important to watch what you eat and drink in order to keep healthy
I’ve read a lot about healthy eating, but it’s not relevant to me
The results show that strong agreement that healthy eating is important is actually pretty evenly distributed, with only 4 per cent difference between Prospectors and Settlers, and Pioneers sitting in between. However, when it comes to taking it on board themselves, Settlers are a fair bit more likely to think it doesn’t matter to them.
What’s driving this higher aversion to thinking healthy eating is relevant to themselves is hard to pinpoint, but it makes sense that, with more scepticism about novelty, and a stronger sense of fatalism and connection to tradition and consistency, some Settlers may be more incline to see healthy eating as a challenge to what they know they like, and more a goal for others to pursue.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the over-caffeinated monster that lurks within us all: