20/11/2017 12:59 GMT | Updated 20/11/2017 14:59 GMT

Towns That Voted Leave At Risk Of Losing Out Most From Brexit, Labour MPs Say

A new think tank is being launched to tackle the issue.

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Towns that voted Leave are at risk of losing out most during and after Brexit, Labour MPs have warned.

New research has revealed cities are growing at twice the rate of towns and economic growth plans are heavily geared towards larger metropolitan areas.

Labour MPs say more must be done to boost smaller economies and a new think tank - Centre For Towns - has been set up to tackle the most pressing issues, spearheaded by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.

Ahead of the organisation’s official launch on Monday, former Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper said stark differences between towns in her Yorkshire constituency and nearby cities highlight the need for more government support.

Blogging for HuffPost UK, she said: “The current wave of economic and technological change is being kinder to cities than towns.

“New service jobs increase in the cities; old manufacturing jobs decline in the towns. Shiny new shopping centres drive city centre regeneration; small town markets, shops and banks close or move online.

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Lisa Nandy is spearheading Centre For Towns.

“Industrial towns without their industry, market towns without their market, holiday towns without their trippers.”

Cooper said cities, with their universities, diverse skills and bigger market sizes are better placed to seize new economic opportunities and that the government is relying too heavily on success for larger areas trickling down to towns. 

The former shadow home secretary said people living in Leeds can expect to benefit from better health, wealth and economic opportunities than those living in Castleford in her constituency - despite it being just half an hour away.

And on Monday, Theresa May announced £1.7bn extra investment in transport links outside London - but the entire fund will focus on boosting the UK’s city regions. 

Analysis has revealed 27 of the top 30 Leave-voting areas of the UK are towns, and 22 of the top 30 Remain areas were in cities - but Cooper said not enough is being done to examine the reasons behind people’s voting decisions - which are now at risk of backfiring.

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Grimsby relies heavily on its seafood industry.

In Cornwall, where the majority of residents voted Leave, council chiefs have demanded the government replace the £60 million a year the county stands to lose as a result of Brexit, and workers in Grimsby have asked for special dispensation to protect the town’s vital seafood industry.   

The sector is facing the prospect of hefty tariffs and import duties after the UK departs the EU in 2019.

“Austerity has hit town services hard too. As public services shrink back to fewer, bigger centres to save money, many towns have lost services altogether - the police station, the A&E, the magistrates courts, the solicitors practices, the sports centres and swimming pools. Local town institutions are disappearing and so are the professionals who work in them,” Cooper added.

Early research by Centre For Towns revealed the keys to 10 Downing Street could be within Jeremy Corbyn’s reach if he wins just a few hundred votes in key suburban battleground areas.

In further projects, the think tank plans to examine and compare investment, productivity and growth between cities and towns and track which area are thriving and which are falling behind.

Its official launch will be held in Parliament on Monday evening.