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Opinion: Guildford – Why Are We A Leading UK Economy?

Published on: 22 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 23 Nov, 2016

By Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

For the past three years a big British property consultancy company, Lambert, Smith and Hampton, has been producing a table of the health of the economies of the UK’s main regional towns and cities other than London.

Local Economy

They take 20 different indices such as gross value added , new enterprises, employment etc. produce tables for us to digest.

The weighting given to each of the indices entail value judgments so they should not be taken as anything other than useful but intelligent guesses at the ranking of these economic centres.

Opinion Logo 2They are useful guides and, although of more use if the same indices were used each year, should stimulate thought as to how these economic results are reached.

It surprised me when in last year’s report Guildford came out startling well, being the most affluent community in the country (outside London), its second best educated (after Aberdeen) its eighth most entrepreneurial , its eighth most productive and its ninth fastest growing. It did not figure under “greenest”.

This years report does not paint Guildford in such glowing economic colours and does not quite use the same system.

It does not rank them but gives scores many of which are identical and does away with the “wealthiest”. It concludes alas that Cambridge has replaced Guildford at the top of the list.

However Guildford is at the top of the list with ten other communities as the” most productive,” the “most entrepreneurial”, we slip to fourth as “best educated ”, and fifth as ‘”fastest growing” .

Our key success indicator of “wealthiest” has been changed to most” rapidly growing” and here we are not all that badly ranked as seventh only two scoring points below the leader. Again we do not figure amongst the top “greenest” cities and towns.

While the rankings should not be taken too seriously the overall picture and changes are important in understanding the economic structure of our community and in helping us to identify how this situation has come about and what we should do about it if we are to continue to maintain the high standard of living we have achieved.

What are the reasons for these remarkable rankings recently?

This needs more study but for what its worth I would attribute it to location, education, enterprise and environment and the shift away from a low gross value added retail sector to very high value high tech enterprises in a cluster around the research park, university, hospital and industrial parks.

However this personal conclusion needs more analysis and one hopes to see it in the Local Plan the borough council is completing.

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Responses to Opinion: Guildford – Why Are We A Leading UK Economy?

  1. Paul Bishop Reply

    November 24, 2016 at 7:30 am

    We may have done well in the past. But the constant block on any significant improvement and development in and around the town will sadly move the ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘best educated’ away from the area. It’s already happening.

    Interesting that for a borough that seems so green to push on about saving our green belt, the general green credentials of Guildford are pretty poor. Maybe these people should focus their efforts not just on saving green space, but on actually boosting the whole towns green credentials.

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