Economic success dependent on public investment for cities
The UK‘s shortfall in productivity can be solved by greater devolution, public services reform and locally led investment in infrastructure.
This is according to two new reports unveiled at the Connected Cities Summit at the QE2 Centre in London on Friday 11 September 2015.
The Core Cities and Bilfinger GVA co-hosted the conference, attended and presented by City leaders, Mayors, business leaders and key decision makers, to launch the two new reports.
Each responds to the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) by setting out the critical requirements from both a regional business and public sector perspective.
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson spoke at the Summit and was joined by Jo Davis, Regional Senior Director of Bilfinger GVA in Bristol, who identified where both national and regional infrastructure investment priorities lie.
The summit examined the evidence that whilst the UK is increasing its focus on improving travel, there is a risk that digital infrastructure remains neglected.
Of the major infrastructure projects currently identified by the Treasury, the £1.8 billion cost of improving digital connectivity only accounts for 1.5% of total expenditure, compared to £91.5 billion on rail (75.8%).
Jo Davis called for greater broadband speed in UK cities including Bristol to encourage global connectivity and business. “Internet speeds at 30mb in our cities are some of the slowest in Europe.”
She comments: “We need to aim for 100mb. Many developed and emerging economies are investing heavily in digital infrastructure and the UK is at risk of being left behind if average broadband speeds do not match those in competing economies.
“All infrastructure connections are critical and as the development of Grade A office space across the country is opening up opportunities for further development, so connections between the cities need to be developed alongside.”
Mayor Ferguson comments: “People are attracted to good places. I am a strong believer in creating a good environment.
“The pressure on housing in Bristol is great and the gap between rich and poor exacerbated by short housing supply and inflated prices.
“The gap is arguably more pronounced than the rest of the country. Investment in housing is crucial.”