School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

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Is Newcastle fair? New book highlights critical issues facing cities

Newcastle comes under the spotlight in a new book which looks at how cities can be fairer places to live and work.

Justice and Fairness

Justice and Fairness in the City, edited by Newcastle University’s Simin Davoudi and Derek Bell, takes a wide-ranging look at life in Newcastle to give an overview of the challenges and opportunities for making the city fairer and the progress being made.

The book highlights how fairness depends upon local people and communities working towards it and demanding it. It looks at how fairness affects areas including education and schools, transport and accessibility, green spaces and food, and participation. It highlights how these affect communities in different ways and reminds us that fairness and justice are experienced and felt differently by different social and age groups.

City life

Simin Davoudi, Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning, said: “Most of the people who have contributed to the book live and work in Newcastle, have carried out research here, care for and love this city. And while we’ve used Newcastle as an example, the issues we’ve looked at are relevant to any other cities, not just in the UK but in other countries too.

“Justice and fairness are talked about a lot but they mean different things to different people. A young person’s idea and experience of fairness is different to an older person’s, and the experience of a person living in one area of the city is different to someone living in another.

“We wanted to show how justice is related to various aspects of city life and why we need to think about fairness not only as an ideal goal, but also as something that we should pursue in our everyday lives.”

One chapter, Toonsformation, examines how changes to the city centre have affected skateboarders and other urban sports enthusiasts, while another looks at how young people view open spaces in their communities – areas which may be considered unsightly by others.

Fairness Commission

Derek Bell, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, said: “In a time of austerity, when Newcastle Council has had its budget cut year after year, promoting social justice in the city is particularly challenging. In the book, we try to highlight some of the less obvious injustices that people face and we show some of the ways that people respond to them.

“One of the main conclusions is that we can’t leave it to government or local councils to promote fairness and justice. Fairer cities depend on local people demanding fairness and working together to promote it.”

The book was inspired by the Newcastle Fairness Commission which was set up in 2011 and chaired by Newcastle University Vice Chancellor Chris Brink. The commission established a set of principles to help the city council make fairer decisions during austerity.

Professor Brink said: “I am very pleased the work we started with the Fairness Commission has led to this work which highlights some important issues facing all cities today.

“Newcastle University is a civic university, one which works closely with its community, examines the issues facing it and looks for solutions. Justice and Fairness in the City demonstrates once again how seriously we take this role.”

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