Cities outlook: Key to growth is diversification
Last week, I attended the launch of think-tank the Centre for Cities’ annual report on the economic state of the country’s cities, Cities Outlook 2011. You can read my take on the report, which suggests Northern cities will remain vulnerable to public spending cuts for the next four years, here. Here’s a round-up of some other interesting points raised by those who attended at last week’s launch.
1) Anthony Browne, policy director to the mayor of London: “London fell into recession slower than other parts of the country and is moving out of it quicker than some – the City, for instance, has bounced back. But it is easy for the government to be complacent and forget that London is very much a tale of two cities: the ‘other’, less prosperous, side of London has some of the highest rates of poverty in the UK, some of the highest unemployment levels and some of the most deprived neighbourhoods. It will be affected by public spending cuts as much as other cities.”
2) Mike Emmerich, chief executive of Manchester’s Commission for the New Economy: “The biggest cities – the ones that have a critical mass and are already thriving economic hubs – are where the market is going to create the jobs. People will continue travelling to these cities from hinterlands whose economies have not improved much because of long-term structural flaws – so the Government would be wrong to attempt to create jobs in those areas. It should continue to invest in ‘travel to work’ policies instead.”
3) Dave Smith, chief executive of Sunderland City Council: “The key to achieving sustainable economic growth is diversification. Any structural dependence on one particular industry is bound to make a city vulnerable. In the 1960s, the North East was over-reliant upon shipbuilding, in the ’70s it was coal mining. Now, it is over-dependent upon manufacturing, which is why the council is trying to invest in small businesses and the knowledge economy, to try and boost economy recovery in the region.”
Read the first column by Centre for Cities’ chief executive Alexandra Jones in the current issue of Planning magazine.