Drawing on what you have learned about City Road, outline some of the inequalities on a street that you know. On every road and street throughout Britain, inequalities can be found; these often lead to unequal opportunities for different individuals in any defined group or groups as a whole in society. One Lane in Chippenham demonstrates this quite well, outwardly and deceptively, it appears to be fairly typical of all the other streets in the central area.
However, when looked at more closely there is evidence of inequalities. As larger multi-national chains open up on or just off the Lane, the smaller independent shops are closing. A number of these little shops are reopening as ‘designer’ or ‘niche’ speciality shops catering for a select portion of the community only, others are re-opening as fast food outlets, but many remain closed and boarded up.
There are indications that these changes are affecting the way people shop, as over time the number of people using the independent shops can been seen to reduce, whereas those going into the superstores can be seen to increase. Stock level and choice available in the independent stores are dropping, as owners reduce non essential items to maintain a liveable profit margin, consequently fewer people are using the independent shops; resulting in an ever increasing circle of change and inequality, for both store owners and shoppers.
Another aspect that affects the way people use the Lane is how it is laid out. In places it is very narrow, being little more than a car width, where it widens out that is where the entrances into the exclusive car parks for the multi-national stores are. This layout affects both pedestrians and car users alike, as most of the independent shops are located in the narrower areas. Cars can’t stop to easily access the shops due to the plethora of yellow lines, pedestrians have to compete for space on the pavements due to their extreme narrowness.
The Lane is now also compromised by HGVs forcing their way through to supply the multi-national stores, causing further dangers to other vehicles and pedestrians alike. Road modification have taken place, but these favour the HGVs, there is little protection for pedestrians, and certainly no safe areas for cars to park to access the small shops. The Lane is developing a deprived look as a result, as more people bypass the independent shops in favour of the easier assessable Multi-nation Stores.
As a consequence of the area ‘running down’, the Lane has developed a reputation for being a crime ridden area. As a result during the day most people appear to conduct their business in the Lane in a hurried manner, at night homeless and drug dependant people are said to be found in large numbers committing numerous crimes. Evidence taken from the Neighbourhood Crime Figures (NPIA, 2011) shows that this is based on people’s perception and that the actual crime levels in the area fall much lower than most other areas in the town.
However, this perception effects how people feel about going to the Lane or even using the Lane, they do not feel safe, so they tend not to stay there but transit through to other areas, they choose not to shop there, as they believe that if seen they may be associated with the ‘supposed’ people who ‘supposedly’ frequent the area, and they long for the Lane to return to the way it was in the past; nostalgia for the past is often a form of inequality in itself (‘Making social lives, 2009, scene 5).
Consequently this can affects any person who shops, lives or find their entertainment there. As more shops close and fewer people frequent the area, this has the effect of further lowering the standing of the Lane in the towns people’s perception. As can be seen the Lane is a road that is currently in the process of slow decline, as a result of changing connections, changes in material infrastructure and as a result of changing lives in the Lane.
Many of these changes bring about inequalities, some factual, some erroneously perceived, but all intertwined, a single change in one aspect of the Lane can affect the whole balance of equality and inequality on the Lane. No matter how changes and inequalities are viewed, these form part of the ongoing and evolutionary process of development in the town. This is true in the Lane, where changes in economic connections, changes in material infrastructures and the changes in how people’s lives are ordered, affect the Lane as a whole.
These changes are not going to stop, and as change happens the inequalities will change over time, and some will become more prominent than others, but all are as important as each other, in people’s lives. Word Count: 779 Bibliography The National Policing Improvement Agency. (2011) Crime Statistics for Wood Lane. Available: http://46. 137. 117. 204/crime/? q=Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 3DY, UK#crimetypes. Last accessed 15/09/2012. ‘Making social lives’. (2009) D131 Making Social Lives [DVD], Milton Keynes, The Open University.