|City of London from the Thames
The other day I received a copy of an email from our director of policy welcoming our "organization" to membership of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to the Chamber's website it is the capital's largest independent networking and business support organisation representing the interests of thousands of companies, connecting over 500,000 business people every year and offering a wide range of practical and professional services.
I have spent much of the morning exploring the website, particularly
- the Events and Networking page and the Events Calendar,
- the Policy and Public Affairs page and in particular the Chamber's press releases, and
- the Business Advice Services page.
Coincidentally, I downloaded and read yesterday Eddie Copeland and Cameron Scott's report Silicon Cities which is published by Policy Exchange. This report discusses how to support the development of tech clusters outside London and the South East of England. As I was born in Manchester and still live in the town where Last of the Summer Wine was shot (we actually have a real vineyard just outside by the way) that is a topic that is very dear to my heart. As I have argued elsewhere it is in the national interest to create a counterweight to London and this report suggests ways in which that can be done. But creating a counterweight does not mean creating a brake. On the contrary it means creating a partner for the capital.
I was pleased to read the Chamber's press release Time to give cities the powers to grow of the 9 July 2014:
"Having long campaigned for greater financial freedom for London, today's report represents a welcome indication that Parliament understands the benefits that fiscal devolution will bring to the capital, and England's other cities and regions."I made exactly the same point in a question to Nick Clegg at the Leeds International Economic Conference a few days earlier (see "Power. Performance. Potential. Leeds Economic Conference" 5 July 2014 IP North West). The idea of a North South divide in a country the size of Britain has always been absurd to me. It is good to see that we are all beginning to sing from the same hymn sheet at last.