The East of England Development Agency has published a report titled: Cambridge Cluster at 50 on the Cambridge economy. The focus is on the “Cambridge Phenomenon” – mainly the universities, high tech firms but also considering other key aspects such as the city centre and tourism. The report looks to the future and highlights those attributes of the city and region which we need to ensure we maintain to keep the strength of the economy in the city and the surrounding region.
The report is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of Cambridge, and touches on everything from transport, housing and quality of life to the environment needed for successfully starting and growing new businesses. It contains a wealth of statistics and evidence which can be used to make a persuasive argument that Cambridge is a place it makes sense for the nation to invest in.
Today, Tuesday the 14th of June 2011, sees Cambridge City Council consider giving formal recognition to the report; and making it a “material planning consideration”. I think this would be excellent. I would like to see councillors faced with planning decisions free to give due weight to the expected impacts of proposed developments on the area’s economic prosperity.
Highlights and Comments
- The report, on p67, quantifies the impact of the University of Cambridge and the activities which surround it, on the UK Economy. It states that over the next decade its contribution will be worth £57.5bn in GDP, involve 154,000 new jobs. It equates this to 4% of UK GDP in 2010, or 7% of the entire national debt.
- Love Cambridge only gets a mention in relation to the fact it is seeking powers to raise taxes. I think the lack of a more substantial contribution shows the organisation is not reaching its potential. I also think it highlights the need for much greater openness, democratic accountability before tax-raising powers. (The schemes proposed are loans for public works paid back by a supplement on business rates in a particular area).
- Statistics in the report include that 18.5% of jobs in Cambridge City are in Higher Education and the 43% of jobs in the city are public sector jobs.
- One aspect of the report I disagree with is the focus on creating companies which rely on debt. I think a commercial enterprise has to make a profit, and the sooner it does so the better.
- The success of the cluster continues despite an inconsistent approach to sharing the proceeds of intellectual property exploitation taken by the University of Cambridge.