Posts Tagged 'business'

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 BrightonandHoveJobs.com, 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.

Advertisements

Encouraging business start-ups in Brighton & Hove

Yesterday the Government announced welcome new plans to support 40,000 new business start-ups over the next two years by offering grants and loans to unemployed people who can show they have a robust business plan. The number is double that first targeted when the scheme – the New Enterprise Allowance – was first launched back in October. It is to be rolled out nationally by the autumn.

For anyone interested there are more details here. However, the bare bones are as follows: budding entrepreneurs seeing self-employment as a viable option will receive allowances equating to £1,275 over six months. They will be paired with “volunteer” mentors drawn from the local business communities who will vet business plans and if they prove strong enough, Jobcentre Plus will provide a loan of up to £1,000 to cover start-up costs.

The Government is very keen to stimulate private sector growth in the economy following the recent downturn and any measures to help business start ups are most welcome, particularly here in Brighton & Hove where we have a very vibrant independent small-business community.

New England House (photo courtesy of Chris Keene)

The changes will also complement very nicely some of the other local initiatives we are supporting such as our new Local Enterprise Partnership (Coast to Capital) and our plans for creating a creative and digital media industry ‘hub’ at New England House.

In spite of the dire state of the public finances, economic growth actually held up pretty well last year and small businesses have been at the heart of that. There are also encouraging signs for 2011- a recent survey for example found that almost half of the UK’s small businesses plan to hire new staff next year.

Roadworks will not ruin Christmas!

Here is that text of a letter I sent into the Argus newspaper in response to an article they wrote claiming roadworks in the City could ‘ruin Christmas’:

I am baffled by the elaborate speculation in the Argus about whether roadworks will cause ‘gridlock’ in Brighton and Hove city centre this Christmas (‘Roadworks would ruin our Christmas’, October 5).

You see, the council has banned all planned roadworks from the central shopping area for a month from December 3.

This is the third year we have taken this step to eradicate the impact of road works on pre-Christmas trading.

Your reporter, Nigel Freedman, highlights two ‘key’ work sites to support these doom-laden predictions – resurfacing at Western Road and cabling by EDF in Grand Parade. Yet, both will be finished this week (by October 8), hardly a threat to festive trade. Had Mr Freedman told us he was planning this article (he did not), we could have directed him to this information, which is displayed prominently on our website.

We could also have reminded him that the Western Road works have only been taking place at night. Again, this is a measure being taken specifically to minimise disruption to the local economy.

There are several other successful steps we take in our efforts to reduce congestion caused by roadworks. One, for example, is encouraging utilities firms to co-ordinate maintenance so two or more jobs can be done together in the same hole at the same time.

Another is talking to traders’ representatives when big jobs are planned, like the North Laine Southern Water road works mentioned in your article. In this case, we involved Suzi Campbell, the city centre business representative, in the planning of the work.

Yet, none of these significant facts were allowed to ‘spoil’ the article with a little balance and common sense.

This sort of ill-informed scare-mongering has far greater potential to damage Christmas trade than anything reported in your article.


council twitterfeed

September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
Advertisements