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'Phoenix' cities show how to rise again from industrial ruin

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Cities which stood on the brink of ruin just 20 years ago after the collapse of manufacturing industry are completing a dazzling comeback, shows a new analysis from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

A study of seven major European cities - including Sheffield and Belfast - found they are successfully rebuilding their environment, economy and society from a low point of industrial decay and unemployment .

Photograph of a Bilbao waterfrontAll seven adopted a similar blueprint to haul themselves back onto the world stage using tactics which included bidding for high-profile sporting and cultural events, cleaning and renovating squalid streets, restoring major landmarks, training citizens in new skills and mixing funding from public and private sources.

The former industrial giants are now developing high-tech businesses, halting the population drain from inner-cities and, in some cases, have already seen employment outstrip the number of jobs lost in manufacturing.

The report, Transforming Cities Across Europe, is produced by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE. Researchers have spent two years studying in detail the cities of Belfast, Sheffield, Leipzig, Bremen, Bilbao, Turin and St Etienne.

Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy and the report's author, said: 'These former industrial cities have proved far more resilient than many people dared hope. During the 1980s and 90s they lost up to 80 per cent of their manufacturing jobs and this led to polarised neighbourhoods, crumbling city centres and creaking public transport, schools and healthcare. Their very future was in question.

Illustration of a Bilbao tram'Our report shows a pattern book of recovery that the cities used to fight back. They adopted multiple strategies which didn't only focus on their economy but also involved improving the urban environment and helping their disadvantaged populations back to work. It's clear that cities cannot recover without mixing all three of these elements.'

Transforming Cities Across Europe is an interim study and will be followed by a final report in early 2009. Professor Power's co-authors are Jörg Plöger and Astrid Winkler. The project has been funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Academy for Sustainable Communities and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the Department for Communities and Local Government).

The full report is available at http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cr/CASEreport49.pdf|

Press cuttings

The Star (23 May)
Letters - Think carefully on future of Sheffield
Letter to the editor which refers to an LSE study of seven major European cities, including Sheffield, published last week.

Yorkshire Post (19 May)
Sheffield: The city that came back from the brink
The London School of Economics has been charting the progress of Sheffield and six other European cities, including Bilbao and Turin, which 20 years ago were on the brink of collapse following the rapid decline of the manufacturing industry, and all seven have engineered 'phoenix from the flames' recoveries. 'Sheffield and the other cities have proved far more resilient than many people dared to hope,' says Anne Power, professor of social policy at the LSE and author of the report.

Sheffield Telegraph (16 May)
Sheffield 'avant garde model of city reform'
Sheffield has emerged as an 'avant garde model of city reform' in an LSE study of how seven European cities fought back from industrial decay and unemployment.

Sheffield Telegraph (15 May)
'Dazzling' rebirth of ex-industrial cities hailed
Former European industrial centres such as Sheffield which were facing disaster after the decline of their traditional manufacturing bases are experiencing a remarkable turnaround, according to a report. The two-year study by the London School of Economics (LSE) examined seven cities which appeared to have a bleak future 20 years ago but have made a 'dazzling comeback' by combining a focus on their economies with improvements to the environment and helping people back to work.

BBC News Online (14 May)
'Phoenix' cities rise from ruins
Cities which stood on the brink of ruin just 20 years ago have made a 'dazzling comeback', according to a London School of Economics report.

13 May 2008