My sister needed to have Georgia weighed in Shelton, so I hung around for the day and tagged along to provide ‘practical support’. I definitely provided practical support by tidying the kitchen and walking the dog in the morning. After the successful weigh-in (40 grams gained) my sis needed to visit the shops to buy a million baby items in Boots and then some baby clothes. I’m not sure whether buying us frappuccinos from the Costa in Next counts as ‘practical support’, but that is what I did, and I did it to the best of my ability.
Shelton is an interesting inner city area of Stoke. It’s very ethnically diverse and has a load of students from nearby Staffordshire University. It was a popular conclusion in GCSE geography lessons that Shelton is the ‘most deprived’ area of the city. I didn’t question then whether our government’s indices of deprivation are based around certain aspirational measures that don’t tally with the preferred lifestyles of all cultures who the government purports to represent. But this does require pause for thought. In Shelton there are lots of families of South Asian descent, as well as recent immigrants. Overcrowding is always noted as a measure of deprivation, and I remember people always sounding alarm bells about this in Shelton. The number of people per home isn’t a reliable measure if families opt to live in multiple generational homes and don’t agree that they feel over-crowded. As with everything else, planners and local governments must avoid working within a framework that doesn’t work for all, otherwise subsequent investments and allocation of resources will be less valuable than they could be. Overall I’d be more concerned with unscrupulous landlords in Shelton ripping off university students by cramming them into homes unfit for human habitation.
It is apparently May and I wanted to explore Shelton whilst Georgia was being weighed, but it was mostly too cold and wet. I went around a few streets and then grabbed a warming snack from an outlet of Wrights, a well-known local piemaker.
Having said all of the above, the Red Wall here has collapsed and all of Stoke’s constituencies voted Tory in the last election. Under this regime I may as well put my face in a Wrights cheese pie than try and make a nuanced point about cultural integration and bottom-up planning.
In the evening we did another dog walk in Lyme Valley park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, close to where my sister lives. There is a local scandal about the eggy stench made by the Walley’s Quarry Landfill Site, which has now made national news. I was surprised at the strength of the smell where we were walking, which wasn’t close to the landfill. I’m not at all surprised that there’s an active ‘stop the stink’ campaign, as it must be miserable for thousands of residents.