Government launches its plans for a modern industrial strategy

s300_industrial-strategy-cover2Today the government released a Green Paper – Building Our Industrial Strategy. This is important stuff. Strategic planning is what government’s should do, and, mostly, leave the businesses and entrepreneurs to deliver on the strategy.

I’ve learned, over the years, that readers here have rich and wide experience in many sectors of our economy. I thought, therefore, that it might be worthwhile to provide that Green Paper here – all 132 pages of it.

There’s a one page summary of the Industrial Strategy to be seen HERE.

A little odd thought just crossed my mind about 132 pages. Haven’t other documents I’ve posted here also been 132 pages in length. I wonder, is it something to do with printing – multiples of eight plus 4 pages for the cover. Just a thought.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry to close after 500 years of operation

I’m a bit late with this news, as it was on the 1st December last year that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry announced it was for sale, saying,

Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd announces, with regret, that by May 2017 it will cease its activities at the Whitechapel Road site that it has occupied since its move there in 1738.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is the oldest manufacturing company in the country, having been founded in 1570. The current owners are retiring and are selling up. Spitalfields Life has an interview with owner Alan Hughes, who talks about unusually long lead times between an order for a church bell and its delivery. It also has an extensive series of images on the bell foundry.

BBC News also has a brief article on the sale, as does the Daily Telegraph, with a longer piece on the closing of the bell foundry. Click on images to expand.

© Front door image copyright Julian Osley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Confidence in London undiminished, 38, 62, 73 storey city skyscrapers coming

Readers here will know of my love of skyscraper building in London. It’s been a regular feature since I uncovered a pessimistic BBC article a few years ago on the future of the London skyline.

In my article on this topic in July this year I listed the London and City skyscrapers planned, approved and being built, I’ll not repeat that. In this update on new skyscrapers in the City of London, I simply want to point out that these three new City skyscrapers are surely a testament to the demand for space. The Shard is fully occupied, and that’s not even in the Square Mile. Here are the three

  • 22 Bishopsgate, with 62 storeys and 278m tall.  Now under construction. A somewhat stuttering start after the failure of the Pinnacle building project on the site.
  • The Scalpel, with 38 storeys and 190m tall. Under construction and due for completion in 2017, and eight floor already let. Unusually the building’s sobriquet is retained as the name of the building.
  • 1 Undershaft – referred to as the Trellis, is a recently approved 73 storey skyscraper, and will be the highest in the Square Mile. Just five metres shorter than the Shard. It is reported that it will be home to an estimated 10,000 workers.

New high-rise towers and skyscrapers a-plenty in London & elsewhere

While Liverpool and Newcastle will likely be getting new high-rise towers, it’s London that’s getting high-rise towers and skyscrapers a-plenty. A skyscraper being defined as being 30 or more storeys.

Adjacent to Waterloo Station is the redevelopment of the Shell Centre. I’ve watched the site develop over the last year or so. Visiting the area at the beginning of the month, it was the number of building cranes that impressed. The site titled, unadventurously, as Southbank Place will provide much needed public space near the London Eye, which being a tourist hotspot has become unattractive with the sheer mass of visitors to the Eye, London Dungeon, Sea Life Aquarium, and other attractions.

You can see changes to the area in the developers website. Their vision is shown below, and my photos below that.

southbank-place

Framing a question to ask at a Council meeting of Surrey Heath Borough Council

Of the topics interesting me at present, there are a number about which it is my intention to ask Surrey Heath Borough Council their view. They’re not about the meaning of life, they are about the value of horticultural business to Surrey Heath, and protecting the physical heritage in Surrey Heath.

I’m genuinely interested to know of the council’s view on protecting, promoting and advancing the horticultural business sector in Surrey Heath. I’ve written about part of its sad demise HERE, and published the Council’s, now obsolete, planning policy on the sector in which they recognised how the, “significant presence of nurseries has contributed to the particular countryside character of Surrey Heath”.

questions-to-councilHere’s what the Council say about how to raise issues. A much underused democratic facility is to ask a question to be answered at a meeting of the full council – publicly highlighting an issue.

The council says “You may ask one question only”, although a relevant supplementary question is allowed. Hmm, only one question, eh. I need to carefully construct a question that asks, about their policy on horticultural business, and also how many such businesses there now are in Surrey Heath. Also, it mustn’t stray into planning policy, or the question will be refused.

What good will it do? It won’t do any harm, that’s for sure. It might, just might, give the Council an opportunity to pause to think about this business sector, and how it can be of help to it.

More on the sad decline of the garden centre ‘Golden Mile’ and horticulture in Surrey Heath

Success – I’ve found my copy of the Supplementary Planning Guidance [SPG] about Garden Centres and Nurseries. I mentioned this document in my recent article, The sad gradual decline of the ‘Golden Mile’ in Surrey Heath, in which I also describe the ‘Golden Mile’.

The SPG is shown in full below. Here, in section 3 of the SPG, is what it says about The Nature of the Countryside in Surrey Heath,

  • The countryside forms a major part of Surrey Heath. Horticultural activity has been widespread throughout much of the countryside, although the greatest concentrations of nurseries continue to exist in the eastern half of the Borough. This significant presence of nurseries has contributed to the particular countryside character of Surrey Heath.
  • More recently, garden centres have become a feature of the Borough’s rural areas.
  • The Borough Council recognises that the nature of nurseries, in particular, has evolved over time and, in some cases, nurseries have become garden centres in response to changing market pressures and opportunities.

In a survey in 1991/2 the Borough Council identified 39 nurseries. In the SPG it says an update to the survey in 2001 showed only a slight decrease in that number. I wonder how many of that 39 now remain, and also, whether the wyevale-garden-centre-image-from-spgBorough Council would have any interest in finding out.

I’m feeling the need to ask how many now, and to have the answer given at a full council meeting. Obviously, I’ll need to attend the council meeting to hear the answer, something I’m no longer in the habit of doing.

Oh, a final point. I know the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that the photo on the front page of the SPG is of Wyevale Garden Centre – how ironic.

An industrial strategy should include a focus on robotics and automation

In a fast changing world, and one where Britain is free from the European Union, we need to identify and invest in industries where we can be successful. There is discussion that the Theresa May government is considering the creation of an industrial strategy. In this discussion, some see the way UK Sport prioritised investment in sports where we have a good chance of winning, as being a worthwhile approach.

Robotics_workshop_2Yes, the UK Sport approach has its advantages, where I think the key ones are; a sound vision, identifying talent and then investing in it, and a relentless focus and performance measurement. Me, I’d like to make it easier for innovators – like Trevor Bayliss and his wind-up radio invention – to access investment and to set-up in business with the minimum of fuss.

I’m pleased to see Robot Wars back on the BBC, though I’d also like to see the return of programmes like The Great Egg Race – we need to promote the fun and excitement of innovation and problem solving.

Here are a couple of articles on the likely areas of investment,

Nicholas Mazzei writes in TRG on 25th Jul 2016 on Taming the Terminator: how Britain can lead on robotics and automation. The crux of his article is,

We should therefore create a department for Digital, Robotics and Automation and designate a dedicated minister to ensure Britain is not only prepared for the Robotic age but also leading the world in this designing, building and delivering this technology. It is this lack of automation which leaves Britain’s productivity per head behind countries such as Norway, USA and even France.

William Hague, in the Daily Telegraph, writes – A new industrial revolution is coming. Is Theresa May ready for the chaos it could unleash?. He concludes in his article,

Some big businesses do have to change their attitudes, and the idea of binding shareholder votes on executive pay is a good one, but the emphasis must be on making the UK the best possible home of the thrusting, innovating, risk-taking user of new technology and ideas.

Leaving the EU makes it all the more vital that we chart a pro-enterprise future, as investors worry about sticking with Britain. Transparency and fair taxes from the big corporations are vital, but that shouldn’t stop us going for low taxes and great infrastructure for the businesses we need.