EZs: a shot in the arm

The British delegation will be out to MIPIM today with a spring in its step following Saturday’s announcement by Chancellor George Osborne of 10 Enterprise Zones (EZs) for the North and Midlands. This is a real shot in the arm for the market. Nobody who cares anything at all about the UK economy could help but welcome the revival of Enterprise Zones (EZs), as first championed by Margaret Thatcher in 1981 (which laid the foundations for Canary Wharf and the Merry Hill shopping centre to name but two success stories). Plans for 10 EZs, giving firms incentives to create jobs in needy regions, are actively taking shape. And thank goodness for that.

For months and months David Cameron has been clear about the government’s commitment to rebalance the economy away from London and the South East, and nobody believed him. How wonderful to see some real teeth being put on this commitment. UK Regeneration has been vigorously campaigning for EZs since last summer. For us, they are a no-brainer. EZs provide the simplest possible measure to get real growth away without any up-front funding. The way forward for inner city regeneration must be through investment by the private sector, there is no other way. We have tried to do it through establishing various bureaucracies, and it was a disaster every time. The great thing about EZs is that they are simple: simple for business people to understand and simple for business leaders to factor into inward investment decisions.

I was asked yesterday to write a piece for the Daily Telegraph in support of EZs. Naturally I was more than delighted to do so, and they have carried that article today. The debate rages around the implementation of what is, necessarily, a simple and blunt instrument and not repeat mistakes made on the last round, but there is more than enough collective wisdom to find the way through. This will certainly add a new piquancy to Wednesday’s session “Making Regeneration Happen in the UK”. See you in La Belle France.

Top image credit : Photobank gallery

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