Brighton & Hove’s local economy – reasons to be optimistic

Last week at our Full Council meeting we had a very interesting debate on the possible effects of reductions in public spending on the local economy. The Green Party, who put forward the motion for debate argued strongly that cuts to the public sector will have a damaging effect.

For my part, I argued that we have good reason to be optimistic here in Brighton & Hove and that talking the economy down in this way does nobody any good. By and large the driver for local (and national) economic growth is the private sector and in Brighton & Hove there are very encouraging signs:

  1. The Centre for Cities have once again singled Brighton & Hove out as performing strongly post-recession. One quote from their report explains why: “Cities with strong private sector economies and limited public spending cuts, such as Brighton and Cambridge, will be well placed to drive the UK’s economic recovery.”
  2. Just last week the Argus highlighted that recruitment specialists are reporting a surge in vacancies with firms returning to pre-recession staff levels. They also reported that the number of young people starting apprenticeships is rising faster in Brighton and Hove than anywhere else in the South East. Both very welcome pieces of news.
  3. Amex announced last week that they are looking to expand still further in Brighton by relocating a significant number of jobs from their Madrid office.
  4. And developers are still looking to invest in Brighton & Hove. For example, the exciting proposals for a new hotel on the old ice rink site in Queen’s Square.

So, although clearly there are going to be tough times ahead, particularly for us in the public sector, I do retain a sense of optimism about our future prospects.

And I have to say that what would really damage the local economy is the massive increases in taxes on business that the Greens advocate. Just last month, Caroline Lucas put forward proposals to introduce a new ‘business education tax’ on companies – supposedly to pay for free higher education. I’m sure that businesses would be delighted to have this extra burden imposed on them at this time. It would certainly ensure that there would be far fewer jobs for all the new graduates to go into!

And just think what the effect on local businesses would be if the Greens ever got to introduce their cherished congestion charge? As we have seen in London, a Green candidate for the Mayoral elections – Jenny Jones – wants it extended to cover the whole City and the charge to be raised to £50! This really would kill the economic recovery stone dead and I think it would be extremely bad for this City if they ever got the chance to bring it in.

UPDATE: Further good news yesterday on the jobs front. According to a survey by, more than a third (36%) of local employers plan to create new jobs and take on new staff over the next 12 months, while 17% said they expected higher than average growth which could lead to new jobs. A mere 4.3% said they were looking to reduce staffing. Very encouraging.

3 Responses to “Brighton & Hove’s local economy – reasons to be optimistic”

  1. 1 David Pashley February 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    It’s a shame that you feel the need to continue to bitch about the Green Party policies rather than explaining why yours are the right ones. It’s also a little concerning that you assume that the country is out of recession, when it’s entirely possible that we are entering another period of recession, exactly as a result of the contraction of public sector spending.

  2. 2 idlebloke February 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    People need to be reminded of just how dangerous the Greens have the potential to be. All these ‘ideas’ of theirs may all sound very nice, but we have to live in the real world.

  3. 3 DG February 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    It’s very odd that you criticize the Green Party for having said that Conservative policy is incorrect and imply that them doing so is unhelpful and unduly negative, but then immediately nonsense suggestions that the Greens have put forward, as if the same rule doesn’t apply to you.

    I hope this isn’t an indication of a complete lack respect for those who have different opinions to you or complete refusal to accept that somebody else could be right. Because that would be far more unhelpful to the people you represent than claiming cuts to the public sector are damaging.

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