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Local identity and the perception of safety in disadvantaged neighbourhoods: a survey of the Meadows residents, Nottingham UK
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53rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional Integration: Europe, the Mediterranean and the World Economy", 27-31 August 2013, Palermo, Italy
Most contemporary cities are diverse, multicultural places often facing the challenge of managing their social and economic wealth in spite of conflicts and disparities. Virtually every city in the world has one or more disadvantaged neighbourhoods within its boundaries, where crime rates are higher and poverty is spread. These are often the more ethnic diverse neighbourhoods, where social cohesion is at its lowest. Such places are usually avoided by residents from wealthier parts of the city. Planners and local authorities often see these problematic areas as an opportunity for social interventions and urban regeneration. Empirical studies have shown the direct link between low social capital, higher crime rates and the perception of poor safety by local residents. Urban regeneration therefore aims to create jobs opportunity and improvement of overall conditions of life. The ultimate aim of a good regeneration plan should be to increase the social capital of the neighbourhood by means of targeted interventions, tailored after careful analysis of the urban situation and extensive public involvement. Unfortunately, regeneration managers often limit the complex task of public involvement and community building by interpreting it as just providing information, or asking for views on restricted range of pre-determined options. Local authorities end up replicating the departmentalism and political imperatives of central governments. In most cases, even where there was a strong commitment to community involvement, there was little understanding on how to achieve it, with little or no effect on final decision makings. This study uses a contingent valuation approach (CVM) as a mean of increasing public participation in regeneration projects. CVM employs survey methods to elicit public preferences on projects/scenarios' alternatives. Although popular in other fields, the application of CVM in regeneration projects is relatively recent. The paper discusses the case of the Meadows Neighbourhood Plan, Nottingham. This is one of the projects recently promoted by the Nottingham City Council. The Council claims that this project is the first one with a community-led approach. In our research we first analyse how participation for this specific project has taken place, then we focus on one of the issues highlighted as critical in the Meadows Neighbourhood Plan: the issue of safety. Data was collected through a face-to-face survey administered to a cross sample of 132 Meadows residents. The questionnaire aimed to elicit the perceived sense of safety of the Meadows residents through some attitude questions on a 5-point Likert scale. The CVM question elicits the maximum willingness to pay for an improvement of safety and social cohesion to be provided through the implementation of the neighbourhood plan. The concept of safety is explored through the analysis of several related variables. These factors included demographic features, social capital indicators, victimization, level of participation in the preparatory phases of the plan and the respondents' sense of attachment to the neighbourhood.
sense of safety
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