Are our cities leaving our towns behind?

Fairclough Suite, Midland Hotel (inside cordon)

Event in partnership with DevoConnect

This event aims to discuss two key issues. Firstly, that there is a growing scepticism of the city-centre led growth model. CLES have been vocal in recent months in criticising the idea of ‘inclusive growth,’ instead favouring the term ‘inclusive economy.’ What might it mean to shift our centre of focus from the city to places in general? How might we imagine growth models which focus on the needs of people outside cities? Secondly, some are beginning to question the relationship between geographic mobility and social mobility.  

This is especially the case after the Brexit vote, which drew many London-based observers’ attention to smaller towns and rural areas. How is social mobility best-defined amidst growing suspicion of the inevitability of geographic mobility? Is this suspicion justified? What might resolving these questions tell us about the growing divide between the university educated and the non-university educated, which increasingly maps onto the populations of our cities and towns? Both of these issues are linked, and we hope to enjoy a substantive discussion. We would also hope to reflect the Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry’s recent comments that government at both central and devolved level mustn’t replace the North-South divide with an East-West divide, as well as drawing attention to the receding promise of the Northern Powerhouse itself and the Midlands Engine.  


Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth
Sarah Weir, Chief Executive, Design Council (chair)
Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England
Dan Corry, Chief Executive, New Philanthropy Capital
Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, CLES 
Prof Cathy Parker, Co-Chair, Institute of Place Management