Wellbeing on the line

By Richard Pickering, Head of Futures Strategy

Choices It’s easy to find ourselves in echo chambers of debate about Brexit. However, lest we forget, 70% of the UK believes that Brexit should go ahead, according to consistent polling by YouGov. Whilst the motivations for Brexit are plural, the YouGov surveys also show that control over immigration ranks as a primary driver. Tony Blair last week made the suggestion that if the EU makes concessions over immigration, then perhaps Brexit is not politically necessary after all. However, to complicate matters further, a poll by Better for Britain suggests that the majority of Brits would be happy to sacrifice control over freedom of movement in return for single market access. This is the very real conflict that Theresa May and co will need to navigate on our behalves over the coming months.

Down the track HS2 inched a little further down its track, with the announcement of contractors, routes and a development partner shortlist this week. Perhaps most significantly, the route is now confirmed as going through a spur into the centre of Sheffield, rather than stopping at Meadowhall (the alternative option). Good news? On the Yorkshire Post website, 54% of people surveyed stated that they ‘don’t approve of HS2 full stop’. This presumably includes those living on the Shimmer Estate in Mexborough, who will now be subject to a compulsory purchase order. A recent report on the subject concludes that statutory compensation won’t be enough for these residents to buy a new home in the area due to the ‘temporal increase in demand’ brought about by the displacement of a large number of residents. Could the associated offer of additional public assistance set a precedent for other large CPOs?

Happy City A study in Vancouver has found a link between the design of public space and the happiness of those that walk through it. In particular, interventions that inject nature, colour or unique elements into public spaces were correlated with an increase in trust in strangers, and a willingness to take care of that space. The use of psychological techniques to defend assets is not new. For instance, Oscar Newman’s ‘Defensible Space Theory’ suggests that breaking open space down into human sized chunks promotes accountability for that space and reduces vandalism. Similarly, piping classical music into bus stations has been shown to reduce vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Piped elevator music has also been shown to increase motivation among office workers, and increase supermarket sales by 38%. Time to unplug the ear pods?

Female doctors In the week that the BBC reveals that its top paid man (Chris Evans) earns four times more than its top paid woman (unbelievably, Claudia Winkleman – no, really), the balance is in small part addressed through the gender reassignment of one of its top watched heros. New Timelady Jodie Whittaker’s appointment as Doctor Who has predictably divided opinion, and Twitter has been quick to respond. One Twitter user commented, ‘Oh great a female Doctor Who. What next? Female real doctors’. Or as another put it, ‘If you think The Doctor changing gender is unrealistic I have some bad news about aliens, time travel and regeneration.’


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