Southampton Liberal Democrats Peter & Karen Galton recently travelled to Sweden and Denmark; here are some of their observations of the similarities and differences between our cultures.
Being fans of 'Nordic Noir', we visited the cities of Copenhagen and Malmo, as well as crossing the Oresund Bridge which is the focal point of the television drama series "The Bridge". It was also our first time in continental Europe since the EU Referendum.
One of the first things that we noticed in Copenhagen was how well the public transport, including buses, trains, and metro, all fit in together, and you only need one ticket to use them all. As for cycle lanes, they are almost everywhere and very well laid out and safe. Cycles and cars know where they have to be. Bikes are everywhere and easy to hire.
We discovered that 55% of all Copenhageners commute to work or place of study by bike. Luckily for all those cyclists, Copenhagen quite flat. They seem to be more equipped for this in Northern Europe, unlike the UK, where on average only 2.8% of people commute to work by bicycle. Cambridge has the highest cycle-commute rate in the UK at 29%
While in Copenhagen and Malmo, we were quite surprised at the amount of British foodstuffs on sale. There was quite a wide range, and from companies that were not perhaps that well know in the UK. These seemed to be smaller companies that have found a market in Europe.
In Malmo, Sweden, we found a food shop totally devoted to British and Irish produce. It had a good selection of items, and the shop assistant told me that they were fairly busy. The question we have since asked ourselves is how will this be affected in the months to come? Will trying to buy British Produce abroad get harder? Will it cost more? Will there still be the demand for items from the UK? Will British Producers lose business across Europe?
The sad truth is, we still don't know where Britain is going with regard to Europe. Three months after the vote to Leave, this Conservative government still has not told use really what Brexit will mean to business in the UK, or Europe for that matter.
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