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.

Uk rises from 10th to 5th place in the Forbes ‘Best Countries for Business 2016’

The Forbes annual report on Best Counties for Business sees the UK rise from 10th spot in the 2015 report to 5th place in the 2016 report.

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Forbes say about their report,

This is the 11th straight year Forbes has gauged the world’s economies to measure which are the most inviting for capital investment. We graded 139 countries on 11 factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.

There’s not a lot of comment on the UK’s rise in the report. Sky Business News has this comment from Forbes,

Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes, said the UK moved up “thanks to improved scores on corruption, tax burden and monetary freedom, as well as a stronger stock market”.

Rank – Country – GDP Growth – GDP per Capita – Trade Balance/GDP – Population

  • 1             Sweden                 4.2%       $50,300               5.2%       9.9 M
  • 2             New Zealand      3%          $37,800               -3.2%     4.5 M
  • 3             Hong Kong          2.4%      $42,400               3.1%       7.2 M
  • 4             Ireland                 26.3%    $51,300               12.2%      5 M
  • 5             UK                         2.2%      $43,700               -5.4%     64.4 M
  • 6             Denmark              1%          $52,000              7%           5.6 M
  • 7             Netherlands        2%          $44,400              8.6%       17 M
  • 8             Finland                0.2%      $41,900               0.1%       5.5 M
  • 9             Norway                1.6%       $74,700               9%           5.3 M
  • 10           Canada                1.1%        $43,200               -3.2%      35.4 M

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.

Interesting research: ‘The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground’

One of the Pew Research Center for social and demographic research reports is on how The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground. Their report’s opening paragraph states,

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

The Financial Times’ article on America’s Middle-class Meltdown has this helpful GIF which shows the change in middle incomes over time.

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Find the social category of your local area in this interactive map

A fascinating interactive map of social category was featured in yesterday’s Daily Mail.

You can interact with the map at CDRC Maps, or by clicking on the map below. Based on the 2011 census data, it uses a myriad of social category classifications. Moving the your pointer over the map reveals the social category of your area, and neighbouring area. Have fun.

Surrey Heath Social Categories