Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Sarkozy’s rescue plan for suburbs

with 2 comments

BBC News

There is absolutely no doubt that something must be done. The scene of riots on more than occasion, and of continuing deep alienation of a significant number of people. What is depressing is that Sarkozy has absolutely no idea of what is needed, and simply goes to the standard right wing play book. A crack down on drug dealing, bussing school kids, some new houses and the right to buy. I am surprised he left out the tax cut. When, anywhere, have these policies done any good?

What these young people need are jobs. The problem, surely, is 40% youth unemployment. Where is the strategy to deal with that? And yes there are things that work. There is an Australian company that contracts to governments and is paid by results that gets people out of long term unemployment and into good, permanent jobs. The company only gets paid for results and is one of the best examples I know of that shows contracting out can work. They have been working in France long before Sarkozy got into power. The company was created by Therese Rein wife of Australian PM Kevin Rudd, and to avoid the appearance of conflict no longer works for the parent company but goes around the world setting up companies like workdirections. (And yes, she did visit Vancouver, and was told she was not needed here!) The only reason I know all this is my sister works for them.

A number of US cities have “welfare to work” programs. One of the things they tackle is that people who live in deprived areas and have no jobs also find it hard to travel – they cannot afford the car that most US cities require as a minimum of any kind of life at all. They will give people bus tickets so they can get to a job for the time it takes for the employer to actually pay them something. They will work with transit agencies to ensure that services run at the right times and to the right places.

Either of these approaches has impeccable right wing credentials. Neither has a lot of opportunity for grand gestures like pulling down an ugly tower block. So guess which one Sarkozy will chose.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 8, 2008 at 8:18 am

2 Responses

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  1. I wonder if the word “suburbs” is perhaps being used here in a way that doesn’t fit the North American idiom? Sarkozy refers to “projects”, by which I assume he means hi-rise apartments, perhaps publicly owned or subsidized. In any case, these are not the same as the suburbs we know here, neighborhoods of much lower density, mostly single-family houses, perhaps with some duplexes and townhouses and a few lower rise apartments.

    Budd Campbell

    February 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  2. […] Sarkozy’s rescue plan for suburbs […]

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