Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: economic growth

Why we’re deserting supermarkets – and saving money

Tesco over-egging its profits by £250m (yes, that’s a quarter of a billion quid) is a big overstatement and led to statements of shock across the media this week.

Twice the price; 5kg of spuds for £3.50

Tesco price: 5kg of spuds for £3.50

Explanations for its ‘fall from grace’ centre on issues ranging from being caught in a sector-wide pincer movement between Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose, to a rise in internet shopping hitting its out-of-town megastores and the sense that shoppers have simply fallen out of love with Britain’s biggest retailer. It’s still making hundreds of millions in profit each year. But the CEO Dave Lewis probably can’t afford too many hits like this, even though his response to the outbreak of the crisis was swift and impressive.

I’ve worked as a comms person for Tesco, supporting local consultations designed to inform its planning applications for new stores. I was struck by the dedication and drive of those connected with the business; everyone bought into the vision. We’ve shopped there for years and been devotees of its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which we’ve used to ‘reward’ ourselves with meals at Pizza Express and trips to Longleat.

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Acrobats’ ambush part of a day’s work in Bristol

The weird and wonderful happenings in Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone continue to generate headlines on a local and national stage.

This video of the BBC’s Dave Harvey in the thick of it with the acrobats at Creative Common was one of the more interesting pieces of coverage on the day of the Spending Review statement in Parliament. His piece focused on the contribution creativity and a quality environment can make to economic growth. Bristol’s Enterprise Zone puts these attributes at centre stage as part of the long-term plans to generate 17,000 creative jobs in the city. The result has been nearly 14,000 visitors to Creative Common and enough work for nearly 60 people to be employed in its first year. One hundred thousand people are expected over the next nine months, which makes what’s happening here pretty difficult to ignore.

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How housing helps growth and hits the headlines

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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Why I’ve stayed with my bank – until now

I’m a stickler for good service and can’t stand organisations who don’t deliver what they promise.

Being ripped off is even worse and will result in offenders being dumped. Train companies, utilities and firms like PayPal (one of the worst in my book) have borne the brunt of my complaints when I’ve known who to complain to.

On many occasions, I’ve been offered compensation as a sweetener, which I take and then leave. I’ve worked through the ‘big six’ energy companies and found them all to be a disappointment.

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City Deals: big news outside London

I’ve been following the news in my car and online today for reaction to the Government’s City Deals announcement, which hands more powers to some of England’s largest metropolitan areas outside London.

These deals for Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester will see them take on new responsibilities and, in some cases, form new bodies which aim to drive growth and create thousands of new jobs in their areas.

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Could scrapping stamp duty silence noisy neighbours?

Housing is one of the big stories of the year, in terms of the impact it has on the economy and our lives. But a glance at the daily headlines reveals very little about the issues the sector faces that is new in itself, and merely seems to confirm what we already know.

Inside Housing, for example reports findings from a poll by Safestore which looks at public views on home ownership. The storage and removal company used that old PR tactic – a survey – to highlight familiar concerns (that we can’t raise the money we need to buy) and package these as a ‘finding’ that half  the country won’t be able to buy a home in the future.

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So many budget bloggers, so little reading time

Here are some of the budget-related blogs I have read this week. None are intended to reflect my viewpoint, but all are relevant to my area of work in some way. I have always enjoyed the run up and reaction to budget day: miles of newsprint and days of airtime are devoted to the subject, with very different results. Sometimes the same expert can convey different messages between one media outlet and another. Blogging, Twitter and round-the-clock instant reaction can crate the sense of a country transfixed by the budget, although I am not sure that the noise it creates is necessarily a measure of interest.

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Housing hits the headlines

The publication of the housing strategy has led to some interesting headlines over the weekend, which I thought I’d share below. Notwithstanding the complexity of the issues around housing in this country, it’s interesting to see how different media treat the same information. 

The Guardian played it straight on Friday with a piece setting out plans to use brownfield sites to deliver 450,000 new homes. It also highlighted a Government-backed mortgage scheme which would help first time buyers struggling to access finance get on the housing ladder.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, yesterday wrote of plans to double the right to buy discount offered to council house tenants, to up to 50% of the value of their home, with receipts being used to build replacements. 

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Pictures bring Devon bridge-lift to life

I’ve been sent some pictures of the recent successful installation of a new bridge over the M5 near Exeter, which show the scale and complexity of the job in fantastic detail.

The motorway was closed overnight to allow the new 230 tonne structure to be craned over the motorway near Junction 29, with only a few select people and camera crews looking on.

The cycle and pedestrian bridge at Redhayes was one of a handful of network improvements funded with £5.5m from the Community Infrastructure Fund, which is administered by the Homes and Communities Agency. 

It is part of a new package of infrastructure to support the major growth and development planned for the area east of Exeter.

The pictures below are courtesy of Matthew Davison Photography, who also retains the copyright (please credit him if you download them from the site).

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