Beyond the commuter belt – growth and development in rural England

It is fair to say that most comment on sub-national growth and development during 2011 (including in this blog) has focused on cities – most particularly London and the eight Core Cities.  However, the Government Growth Review Phase Two, announced in June 2011, included the rural economy as one of six topics to be addressed. What should rural businesses and local leadership teams be feeding into the review in advance of expected rural economy announcements in the Autumn statement?

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Party conferences: They don’t like to be beside the seaside anymore…

When I was Chief Executive of EEDA, I was never sure whether my change of mood as summer moved into autumn was an onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the expectation of attendance at Party conferences.

Whilst these events may be something of an unwelcome distraction for some delegates, they are good economic news for the cities which host them. For instance, the LibDems at Birmingham next week (17th September) are estimated to bring 8000 delegates, 1600 media and £10-£12m of visitor spend to the city. The Labour Party conference has been reputed to bring double the number of delegates and about £18m of spend; whilst the Conservatives may raise that figure to £20m.

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Back to the future – Birmingham 2010

Centenary Square, REP and ICC – great Birmingham statements from the early 1990s

In recent weeks I have thought a lot about irresponsible individuals who have acted unlawfully to deprive communities of thousands of the homes they need, destroyed new educational facilities, and then, unrepentant, show their disdain when court decisions go against them.

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Aspiring for the Champions League…where does Tottenham go next?

As a lifelong Spurs fan, I feel immensely sad about the terrible news from Tottenham over the last week. It is depressing that perhaps less has changed since the Broadwater Farm events in 1985 than we had previously believed. I must admit I have been in a minority of fans, supporting the Club’s bid to take over the Olympic Stadium. I saw a move to Stratford as a cost-effective, rapid, and deliverable solution to Spurs getting a venue with the capacity and facilities to provide the income that can underpin long-term football success. However, the events of this week have changed my mind.

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If a Minister for Cities is the answer, what is the question?

‘Collective dreams’ from Curitiba

As Greg Clark gets to grip with his new role as Minister for Cities, he will undoubtedly be seeking to identify priorities and define the focus of his brief. The government announcement itself was vague and aspirational. It positions the Minister as ‘champion’, ‘first point of contact’, in order to deliver a lot of ‘driving’ and ‘thriving’. As a Minister shared between DCLG and CBIS, a look at the two departmental business plans gives the Minister no substantial guidance as to government priorities and ‘key deliverables’. The only reference to cities in the two plans refers to DCLG’s imposition of directly elected mayors (or at least referenda) on the 12 largest cities outside London. If government, therefore, has difficulties in articulating precisely what its key goals are for UK cities, to where should the Minister look for advice and support?

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Avoiding a tiff about TIFs

Views on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) have ranged from clamours for early action, to caution based on US experience, together with an English admiration (or is that jealousy) of the progress being made in Scotland. Now that the Local Government Resource Review (LGRR) Business Rates Retention Consultation, has been published, how does the development landscape for TIFs look?

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Economic Success – more than a ‘hole in one’

The marvellous scenes from the British Open Golf Championship this weekend, and Darren Clarke’s immensely popular victory, has projected Sandwich in Kent positively to a global audience. This should assist the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force (SEDTF) – set up in the wake of Pfizers decision to close its pharmaceuticals R&D facility with the loss of 2400 jobs – to promote the location for inward investment.

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