Liverpool 'worst hit by exodus from cities': Northern population dwindling as move to rural areas continues

LIVERPOOL is predicted to experience the sharpest population fall of any city in Britain with a 13.9 per cent decline by 2001, according to research based on the 1991 Census.

Inner-city areas make up all of the top 10 places likely to see the biggest decline in numbers as people continue to move away from cities and the North to rural regions in the South and East Anglia.

Local authority districts in Buckinghamshire make up half of the 10 areas expected to experience the fastest growth. Generally, the UK population is forecast to rise by 2.8 per cent in the 10 years to 2001.

The study by CACI, market analysts, indicates that Liverpool's population would decline to 413,616 compared with 480,749 in 1991. Knowsley, also on Merseyside, would see its population fall by 9.7 per cent to 141,632, the second-highest decline.

The figures were disputed by Liverpool City Council, which believes that the long- standing fall in numbers is slowing. High levels of migration, particularly of young people, have been seen as a direct result of unemployment and fewer job prospects.

According to the city's predictions, the population will have dropped to 455,000 by 2001. Between 1961 and 1971, numbers fell by an average of 13,600 a year, slowing to 3,800 between 1981 and 1991.

'The population decline has slowed down in recent years. Our future size depends on how economic and social factors compare with elsewhere. We will be doing our best to try to attract and retain people with the right skills,' a spokesman said.

Five of the 10 places expected to experience the biggest falls are in Scotland - Inverclyde, Glasgow, Dundee, Monklands and Motherwell are all forecast to shrink by more than 5 per cent.

The London boroughs of Wandsworth, south of the river, and Haringey to the north are also likely to experience significant falls in population.

CACI based its projections on official figures of the Office of Population Census and Statistics which take into account levels of fertility, mortality and migration.

It believes that the Chiltern area of Buckinghamshire will show the fastest growth, up by 13.8 per cent to 102,076 by 2001. South Buckinghamshire, will also see a rise of more than 13 per cent while Wycombe, Aylesbury Vale and Milton Keynes are all predicted to see increases of more than 11 per cent.

Huntingdonshire, including the Prime Minister's constituency, could show a rise of 12.8 per cent, says CACI, while Peterborough, Fenland and East and South Cambridgeshire are also expected to show rapid growth.

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