The economic divide between London and other GB cities ‘will widen’
The economic divide between London and other GB cities will widen in the next ten years, without more action to invigorate underperforming cities, according to a report (summary) by the Centre for Economics & Business Research and law firm Irwin Mitchell.
[London ‘to grow twice as fast as north despite Conservative policies’, Sean Farrell, The Guardian, 4 October 2015]
[…] The economy of London will be worth almost £450bn in 10 years – more than £110bn higher than the total output of cities in the north-west, the north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber, the report, UK Powerhouse: Supporting Economic Strength and Bridging the Prosperity Gap, found.
The findings take account of the proposals announced by George Osborne to revitalise Greater Manchester and other northern cities by improving transport links and devolving powers from Westminster. The project is centred on Greater Manchester and largely ignores the north-east. Osborne declared Sheffield as a second powerhouse last week.
The report, published before the chancellor’s speech to the Conservative party conference, found that business leaders in the north were unenthusiastic about the government’s HS2 high-speed rail link as a way to revitalise their cities. HS2 will run from London to Birmingham at first and will then be extended to the north west.
Businessmen favoured improving roads and local rail services over HS2. More than half the 1,000 surveyed by YouGov for the report wanted local decision making on business rates and infrastructure improvements.
But the prospects for Midland and Northern cities getting the right infrastructure have diminished, because George Osborne has recruited Labour peer and HS2 Ltd director Andrew Adonis to head a new (and supposedly ‘independent’) National Infrastructure Commission.
[Lord Adonis to resign Labour whip and chair George Osborne’s infrastructure body, Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, 5 October 2015]
Andrew Adonis, Tony Blair’s former policy chief, will sit as a cross-bench peer to allow him to chair the new statutory body that will advise the government on new infrastructure projects.
The chancellor – addressing the Conservative party conference on Monday – will hail the appointment of Lord Adonis as a sign of his determination to occupy what David Cameron has called the “common ground” as the Labour party “runs to the hills” under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
[…] The poaching of such a high-profile New Labour figure – the father of Blair’s schools academy programme and of the HS2 rail line – will be seen as a highly political move by the chancellor as he follows the former Labour prime minister’s “big tent” approach as a way of occupying the centre ground. “I think you can see what Andrew Adonis thinks of Labour’s prospects under Jeremy Corbyn by this move,” said one Tory source.
Andrew Adonis is bedazzled by grands projets, big business, and ‘intensified’ urban development (‘rabbit hutches’ in London, etc). Having given Labour the middle finger by becoming a Lords cross-bencher right in the middle of the Conservative conference, it will be interesting to see what Labour support he retains in the coming months.