The rapacious appetite of the global economy is leading to cities becoming more spatially fragmented, socially divisive and environmentally destructive. Cities and their regions continue to produce, consume and pollute more than ever before, attracting more people to urban jobs and opportunities. A key feature of this globalised world is increased competition between cities for
investment and talent. Sometimes this leads to unrealistic aspirations which don’t match their underlying economic performance or potential. While producing goods and services for national and international
markets, cities should increase incomes, improve quality of life and provide sustainable development for their citizens.
City leaders have an opportunity to make a difference here, building on the spatial and
social capital of their cities, rather than importing generic models that cater to the homogeneity of globalisation.
London is one of the major centres of the world economy and it may seem somewhat
unassailable. However, it needs to attend to some deep-seated challenges if its advantage
is to be preserved. Businesses and talented people must continue to want to live and
work in London and all our big cities need every bit of help they can get. The perception
that a city or region is a good place to do business cannot be abstract or a matter of
good public relations; good reputations are earned and based in reality. Directly elected
mayors, given powers over planning, development and transport, may offer advantages in helping cities outside London to boost growth and create jobs.
28 November 2011
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