2011 census shows population growth

Population by age range for Southend-on-Sea

The 2011 census figures released recently show an increase in population for England and Wales nationally, and for Southend-on-Sea locally. This is unsurprising.

The increase of 8,300 is roughly the equivalent of adding another ward to the town – worth noting when discussing reducing the number of councillors.

My chart shows the numbers by population range. I do not have any context to lay this against, although shifting the chart leftwards by ten years does give an indication of some trends.

There is an increasing number of the very young, although we are still below the numbers for thirty years and more ago. The increasing numbers of young people neatly illustrate the issues about school places (lack of) that will soon be upon us.

The numbers of old people show that support services for these, including the care homes and meals on wheels, will stretch resources. This is against a backdrop of austerity.

Many that I meet are concerned about an increasingly crowded town, and the numbers of immigrants that are coming here. Immigration jumped in response to the expansion of the EU (a body that is still looking for new members). Whilst it is true that the many who came here were drawn by the wealth of our nation, it is also true that many have returned to former homes.

Shutting our borders may appear a neat solution, if solution is needed, but this only delays what the increased birth and survival rates will bring eventually anyway, and one should not forget that reciprocal action may be taken – thus curtailing the dreams of many who wish for a life abroad.

If you set years against the age ranges you do see one interesting trend – the spike in 0-4 coincides with the financial crash and consequent recessions. This suggests that birth-rate is linked to wealth (or poverty). It is true that the one guaranteed way to slow down, if not halt, population growth is to create a wealthy society. Worth bearing in mind when considering government polices intended to reward the rich and punish the rest of us.

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