A report by the think tank Centre for Cities was published yesterday which generated strong headlines and made a clear link between house-building and economic vitality in major urban areas.
Cities Outlook 2013 calls for more flexibility for local councils in these areas to develop ways of supporting house-building or improvements, which could plug the shortfall in the supply of homes the country needs (currently said to be running at more than 100,000 a year). Its research suggests that meeting this gap could create 150,000 new jobs and add 1% to national economic growth rates, making most of us a winner in the process.
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Reaction to the elected mayor vote in Bristol – various
Well done Bristol for bucking the national trend and voting decisively, if in small numbers, in favour of an elected mayor to lead the city from November. They were the only city to vote yes to the proposal following a pretty low-key campaign on the issue. The Centre for Cities has published some links on the issue, while the Bristol Post’s coverage of the result and early indication of who the runners and riders for Bristol’s first elected mayor has been well-informed, detailed and sharp, as good local journalism should be. Whether the result was an endorsement of the proposal or due to more negative factors is open to question, which The Guardian poses in its leader on the issue today. Having followed the debate, I’m sure many people voted yes because the current council leadership was against the idea. Anti politics and apathy were the biggest winners this week, but all is not lost. Hopefully a new way of doing things in Bristol will start to change that.
Elections – ‘We the council’ – Kevin Jump
‘Webist’ Jump provides insight into the information provided by council websites about this week’s local elections. He concludes that interest in the local elections is high and the correct information is available, but is not entirely useful and lacks focus on the needs of local users. A number of websites in the area I cover at work are included in the survey.
- Yes or no? (bristolculture.wordpress.com)
I’ve been having discussions and reading about the enhanced role our major cities can play, proposals to hand more power and responsibility to city halls, or Core Cities, and the ambition of towns to be seen as having more clout.
Yesterday’s announcement that Perth, St Asaph and Chelmsford are to be crowned Jubilee cities brought back memories of my time reporting the ultimately fruitless city status bids of the towns in which I worked, in Reading at the end of the 1990s and Doncaster a couple of years later. A lot of people don’t get the point of these city status bids, as they confer no extra power or funding on the winner. But it shouldn’t be underestimated what it means to people who live and work there. It can help raise the profile or even change the image of a place (ask Preston, who beat Donny to become a ‘Golden City’ in 2002).
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‘The Big Society debate must move on’ – Matthew Taylor’s blog
RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor gives his reaction to The Times’ coverage of the perceived threat to the Government’s Big Society vision today. His opinion appears to be that the project is too all-embracing to take root: “The ideas of the Big Society can’t change the world overnight, and anyone with any sense recognises the challenges of taking the idea forward in a time of public sector austerity. But as long as the Big Society continues to be everything, it is in danger of becoming nothing.”
Comments underneath the post, from Julian Dobson among others, are worthy too.
Cities outlook 2011 – Centre for Cities
Centre for Cities annual index, Cities Outlook 2011, made the headlines today with its report highlighting the areas it believed will fare well (and badly) in the face of recession. It may not come as a surprise to know the cities who have scored well in the index (including Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol) compared to those who hadn’t. But there are interesting snippets for opinion leaders and policy makers as to what makes a ‘reslient’ local economy. And if you’re into ‘league table’ stories, it’s got everything you need.