Turnround of UK largest cities critical to the national recovery
Jonathan Walker's headline Birmingham must lead the way in reviving UK economy is about about the 2010 Cities Outlook published today. At a first reading, I took his headline to mean this city is at the forefront of solving the UK's economic problems.
Not so, as his article goes on to explain. Indeed, the 2010 Cities Outlook makes far less a sanguine read than his headline would suggest.
Birmingham is not 'leading the way'. Rather we need a turnround.
As more than one in three jobs (39%) are in the five 'big hitters' (London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool), the turnround of the UK's largest cities will be critical to the national recovery.
The right ingredients to succeed are, the report continues, having a strong private sector (we don't), high levels of entrepreneurship (we don't), a highly educated workforce (we don't) and large shares of knowledge-intensive jobs (we don't). -- as do Brighton, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes and Reading.
Although we're not at the bottom of the pile of 64 ranked cities, we're close to it on many factors. And the sheer size of the places means there are serious challenges for us which, if unmet, will have a serous impact on millions of people, and hence on the whole of the UK.
Moreover, because of the current state of post-industrial cities like Birmingham, the recovery from the recession is likely to increase the gap between the best and the worst performing cities. Take a look at this figures about this city and ask yourself which side of the gap we will be on if we don't acknowledge where we're struggling now:
Dermot Finch, Centre for Cities Chief Executive, says We face an uneven recovery. The national economy may be emerging from recession but cities like Brighton are more likely to recover more strongly than the likes of Barnsley.
Party leaders need to wake up to the reality that some cities will still feel in the middle of a recession until well after the election. The next Government needs to help these struggling cities fix the basics -- like improving schools and public transport so they can attract new business and jobs.
As I blogged just before Christmas about an earlier report from the Centre for Cities, our universities hold the key to growing our private sector. The 'right ingredients' itemised in the 2010 Cities Outlook emphasises again what we need to do. Grow our private sector, attract entrepreneurs, educate our young and create knowledge-intensive jobs.