atoz wrote:When people live in areas that have no, or minimal public transport they are making a choice. Many of these areas are quite expensive to live in. You have to drive everywhere. There are very little local shops, and those that exist are overpriced. So people drive to out of town shopping. A relative of mine lives in such an area. He can afford to do this as he is a builder, and therefore can buy a shell and turn it into a habitable home. Many people in his village are rather better off. Some of them have long distance commutes to London. As with many villages, many of the original locals are long gone, as it's too expensive to buy a house there.
But to live in such areas and run a car you have to have the income to do it. I don't drive, but even if I did I simply couldn't afford to live in those areas on my income. And the car concerned needs to be a decent vehicle coping with a lot of rural miles, not just hops round town- more money.
I have some sympathy, but that is tempered by the fact that when people get over a certain age their reactions slow considerably, and that can make the difference between life and death for the cyclist or other road user they may collide with. I know the argument is that experience behind the wheel makes this less of an issue than it might be. I am not convinced. I know that my reaction times as a cyclist these days have to be good in modern traffic. The problem is much worse as a motorist. I hope I don't have to live on the difference (and realistically that will have already happened).
if you can afford to live in these sorts of rural areas, you can afford to move to more urban locations. That's the choice you have to make, if you take a responsible attitude to driving.
As far as public transport is concerned, we know the politics of this. The answer lies in the ballot box.
As a child I grew up in a rural location. We had local shops, decent pub and a bus service in the villlage plus a primary schoool and a secondary school (with a sixth form in those days) about 5 miles away.
Then the rich people in towns 50 or more miles away realised houses there were (for them) cheap and bought them as second homes- and no it wasn't locals selling out. Many of the village houses were rented from the local estate which then sold them on for loads of £££££ when eldely tenants moved out or the tenancy was otherwise up for renewal- the youngsters could not afford to buy or rent on local wages. (We used to joke in school that you could always tell a weekend place as it had new double glazing and central heating- luxuries which many locals couldn't afford and the landlords didn't provide).
The other big problem was global warming- until the winters started getting warm in the mid-1980's, the prospect of weeks of deep snow preventing access had kept the weekenders away, many who did try it only lasted one season then sold up. So house prices tended to stay low and houses sold locally or remained as tenancies. But once there was access all year around, once house prices in towns went up, once southerners could sell up in London and move north and buy a nice townhouse plus a country place for the odd weekend, the whole profile changed.
As all the youngsters (me included) moved away because we couldn't afford to live there, over 10 years the %age of houses owned by weekenders increased to over 80% of the villlage. The few houses owned by families will eventually end up the same way, and as farm tenants age their land is often amalgamated into larger tenancies and the farmhouse sold.
Those elderly few-% of locals left are stuck, the shops have long gone as the weekenders only come a few weekends a year and leave the place empty (or maybe lease a few days in summer to tourists) but the tourists/weekenders all arrive with a boot-load of shopping from the town supemarket.
Rather than forcing these non-rich people to leave their homes and move into a smaller and less nice property in a town because of being unable to drive, maybe you should target those people who use cars to visit their weekend place. If locals lived there, then public transport and local services (shops etc) become viable again. You don't need "original locals" just locals- families who want to put down roots in the area.
On a wide scale, there's far more houses in the UK than there are people needing homes, so there's obviously a big issue underlying this. A policy which forced the idea that (a) houses are homes (b) "second homes" are an immoral luxury and (c) a private individual owning any more than two properties is unacceptable antisocial greed would make a big difference- and a knock-on of this difference I believe would be that communities which are currently "unviable" for services such as shops, public transport etc would in many cases become viable again. If people have shops, pub and a place to meet up within 5 mins walk, even frail people could get about without a car (electric mobility scooters), and if elderly people have neighbours who live nearby (live- not stay overnight and commute every day) chances are they willl get any assistance they need.
Maybe if you're a responsible rich person, you don't buy a second home in the village, or don't live there and commute out to work in your car every day?