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BCC Report – Tale Of The Cities September 12, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in British Chambers of Commerce, Business, Chamber Services, Liverpool, News, Policy, Surveys.
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Tale of the Cities Report coverThe British Chambers of Commerce have published a new report looking at the emerging city economies across the UK.

The report, ‘A Tale of the Cities: the best of times?’, sets out to chart this economic development and to analyse what has made so many city re-developments a success. It also provokes some difficult questions, not least; can economic development and social inclusion go hand in hand? And it sets out a series of recommendations on what cities now need if they are to ensure future growth and prosperity.

Cities included in the report include Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Cardiff and, of course, Liverpool.

Liverpool’s section, compiled by Liverpool Chamber’s Chief Executive, Jack Stopforth, looks at the cities recent history and its plans for the future. From wartime boom to economic and political upheaval to Objective Funding-inspired growth, Jack goes on to look at what’s in store. He discusses the proposed City Region and the need for the growth in dialogue between business and the public sector.

Read the full report on the BCC website [PDF]

Click ‘more’ to read the BCC’s press release discussing the report.

Bright lights, bright prospects?

Our cities are thriving. Iconic developments such as Birmingham’s Bullring or Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium are testament to the physical regeneration of the UK’s major cities. A growth rate in Edinburgh 50% higher than elsewhere, employment growth of 10% in Sheffield from 2000 to 2004 and a projected £4.6 billion increase in the value of Leeds’ economy by 2016 are further evidence of our cities’ revival.

The new report from the British Chambers of Commerce, A Tale of the Cities: the best of times?, set out to chart this economic development and to analyse what has made it a success. It also provokes some difficult questions, not least; can economic development and social inclusion go hand in hand? And it sets out a series of recommendations on what cities now need if they are to ensure future growth and prosperity.

Cities, city-regions, regional economic performance, devolution… all have been common currency in government and policy circles in recent years. With ever growing challenges to the UK’s global competitiveness the performance of our cities and regions is set to remain a priority for Brown’s government in the foreseeable future.

But what about beyond Westminster and Whitehall? Here too there is near-universal consensus that cities drive our economy and a recognition that significant progress has been made in our cities. But there is also a clear grasp of what needs to be achieved and how to get there. Whereas centrally the private sector’s role in regeneration and economic development is often overlooked, at a city level there are close partnerships between private and public sectors, between Chambers and Local Authorities. It is these partnerships that have paved the way for the success stories in urban revival.

In Birmingham, the ‘Birmingham Alliance’ business partnership worked closely with the city authority to redevelop the Bullring, helping to drive the city’s economic boom and create around 8000 jobs. In Edinburgh, the Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in ‘Business Gateway’ – a programme of support for business start-up and growth – helping the city’s economy grow rapidly. And in Nottingham, the vast majority of regeneration initiatives including the Southside, Old Market Square and the Station Masterplan, have involved Nottingham Development Enterprise, in which the Chamber of Commerce was a founding partner.

In our leading cities, mature public-private relationships are emerging and delivering success. But if we are to sustain this revival and build on the gains already made, gains which cannot be taken for granted, these arrangements should be formalised through a national framework for city-region partnerships. Cities should have the flexibility to adopt the leadership model best suited to them – whether it be along the lines of the Business Leadership Council which Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is developing in conjunction with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, or Birmingham’s business representation on the City Region Executive Board. There should not be one prescriptive model laid down by central government, but a clear green light for cities to formalize existing partnerships.

A Tale of the Cities identifies a number of other constraints on the continued economic success of our cities. An overhaul of the planning system is urgently required, with a presumption in favour of growth. In Newcastle, for example, restrictive planning attitudes are stifling businesses, whereas in Leeds the Chamber’s Property Forum has worked closely with the City Council to review the planning department and improvements are already being felt.

Addressing the shambolic state of cities’ transport infrastructure is imperative given that transport is intrinsic to the competitiveness of a city and UK plc. The annual cost to business of congestion stood at £17 billion in 2006. Transport planning and funding is over-centralised, leaving many cities with little scope to address their own transport bottlenecks.

Just as important to thriving city economies as physical infrastructure is a solid skills base. Our cities must become knowledge economies as this is where the UK will increasingly need to compete. For all of the cities featured in A Tale of the Cities, universities have been instrumental to their economic development. However, at the other end of the spectrum, cities have major problems of social exclusion and worklessness, into which growing economic development has failed to make significant inroads. Tale of the Cities recommends a focus on employability and basic skills within the curriculum and specialist diplomas with high quality work based learning so that young people at risk of social exclusion do not get left behind in our cities’ revival.

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