SINCE 1801 our country has engaged in taking a national census every 10 years. Last year, we completed the latest one – the 22nd in our history (it would have been the 23rd, but there was no census in 1941 during the Second World War).

The census is an incredibly useful tool for Government. It provides information to help plan for the future (as well as the present). This is especially important with regard to the provision of services.

Incidentally, it has also become a key source of information for those of us interested in tracing our ancestry and family roots. I am sure many of you will have used the past census to find out where and when your ancestors lived and worked.

Last week, the first pieces of information from the 2021 census were released. The information has national and local significance. At the national level, we already know that the overall population of the UK has increased significantly over the past 10 years.

The two main factors in the increase are immigration and the fact that people are living longer.

READ MORE: Carlisle's population is growing - but ageing - according to census figures

Locally, it is also important to take a note of trends and changes. In Carlisle we have seen a small rise in our population – up to 110,000 from 107,524 in 2011. In many respects, the Borderlands region as a whole has been pretty static in population for years now.

At one level, the population increase is no bad thing. Our area can struggle to support some amenities, lacking the “critical mass” needed to maintain such services.

Restaurants and shops can all benefit from larger populations – as well as cultural offers like concert venues and museums. Similarly, our transport systems could benefit from a greater population to serve – making lines and services more viable if there are more passengers to use them.

News and Star: Carlisle MP John StevensonCarlisle MP John Stevenson

However, we do need the balance of ages to be right. The census data also shows that a decade ago the population of Carlisle was made up of 10.8 per cent under-10s and 18.5 per cent over-65s.

However, this has now changed to 10.5 per cent and 21.7 per cent respectively in 2021.

In short, the data shows that Carlisle is getting older.

The ageing of our population should be of some concern. It is great that we are living longer (and hopefully healthier). But we do need an active working population.

The challenge, therefore, to Carlisle as a city is to attract more people who want to work and bring up a family in our area. We all know that Carlisle is a fantastic place to do this – and the more young working families we have, the better it will become.

I hope that the 2031 census show Carlisle continuing as a growing and dynamic city.

READ MORE: Census data are interesting - and raise questions about the country we live in