Friday, 5 October 2012

New Census figures - Burnley population falls again

Burnley council are left wondering why many are leaving the town
I was wondering the other day just how many manufacturing companies had actually left Burnley over the last 20 years. I then pondered on how many people had left Burnley due (possibly) to the decline in its industrial base over the same period.

According to the latest census figures, over 3,000 people have upped sticks and left Burnley since 2001. Personally, I have little faith in census statistics and suggest the figures differ greatly than those stated in the census.The figures were released in July this year.

Blackburn with Darwen had the largest proportion of people aged 19 and under with 29 per cent. This made me wonder if the census is what led Panorama to focus their attention on making a documentary about Blackburn's Shadsworth housing estate?

Anyway, back over in Burnley the crisis of underused office space in the town centre coupled with sprawling pound shops and a decreasing manufacturing base continues. Here's a non-exhaustive list of major employers and manufacturers that have closed down in Burnley over the years (not in date order)...

  • Main Gas (Padiham)  aka potterton myerson, MAIN, Thorn EMI
  • Lambert Howarths (footwear)
  • Lucas Automotive (switchgear depot)
  • Michelin
  • Prestige
  • GUS aka shop direct - mainly service sector/distribution
 feel free comment to let me know if I've missed any others (I'm sure I will have).

Burnley used to be a thriving industrial town, yet now its largest employment sector is 'public administration'. Public administration, part of the 'service sector', yields some of the lowest pay than any other industry sector according to

So it's no small wonder why many may see Burnley as a place to cross-off their list of economically prosperous locations. The exodus from Burnley however began much further back than the 2001 census.

I'm fortunate. I was born in Burnley in the 60's and saw just how prosperous and friendly an industrial town could be. The social life was second to none with weekend visits to the town centre pubs and cats whiskers and Annabella's night club. 

The social fabric of society in Burnley was held together by the working class and a stern realisation than if a relative, friend or neighbour had a problem such as a broken washing machine we'd fix it with no need to revert to ringing a phone number for a payday loan as we see on TV today.

In those days there was solidarity, where most companies had unions who fought hard to maintain families with a decent living wage. When we needed to keep up with the latest gadgets or if we wanted to buy a used car we saved UP! We made decisions together, and if our decisions turned out to be to our detriment then we accepted the responsibility and got on with our lives.

This is in sharp contrast to today's society. For example, the previous Labour government encouraged people to borrow outside their means. And when the shit hit the fan with the credit crunch we are told by the succesor government of ConDems that we are 'All in it together' and should pay for those who spent frivolously under Labour. If you don't know HOW to wait and save, then you will never experience social cohesion. 

I suppose I will never fully understand why such large employers of Burnley folk such as Main Gas or Prestige decided to close its factories and move on. I do know however, that the aftermath has left Burnley as a straggling town, with an exodus of local folk looking for a better life with better prospects.

I wish them luck, for I feel they have an arduous journey but one worthwhile if they master the art of travelling back in time to the late 1970's early 1980's.

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