Eyes wide shut

The restaurants are full. There are no spaces in the car park. The cinema is packed out and they’re queuing out the door at Nanado’s. I don’t see any evidence of people being hard up. The affluence most of us see around us doesn’t fit with the news items on food banks, disabled and elderly people having to decide between heating and eating or the hardship being suffered by families forced to move due to housing benefit changes. Of course teachers might notice kids coming to school hungry or not coming at all as they are “transferred” to cheaper housing in another part of the country. GPs might notice as more patients attend surgery with illnesses related to overcrowding, poor housing and malnourishment. The citizens’ advice bureaux might report a steep rise in debt counselling. Psychiatric services might note an increase in referrals for people suffering from depression and anxiety. There might be a few more people selling the big issue and we might have to step over a rough sleeper on our way home after a night out. But the government and local authorities are working together to move these people out (of sight.)

In less enlightened countries the rich and poor are separated by high walls in gated communities with their own security. Of course the long term unemployed, those who work but can’t afford the rents in the city and those older people who don’t have a private pension have to live somewhere. It seems the government has a plan for them, move them to the outskirts of cites. In other countries where the poor have been moved out to the edge of cites shanty towns have grown up. You may think this is a feature of Latin America or South Africa but there is a shanty town of 30,000 people called La Canada Real


only 15 minuets drive from the centre of Madrid. It has no public services, schools or sanitation. Is this the model we will see in this country if we continue to keep our eyes wide shut?

Blair McPherson www.blairmcpherson.co.uk


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