The first of what's planned to be an annual event by the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce. An opportunity for discussion and debate on business in Brighton & Hove, the economy and the challenges facing the city and a chance to ask questions and maybe even get answers.
The Speakers and Panel consisted of:
Tony Mernagh - Chief Exec, Business Forum. How the city sits economically compared to the rest of the South-East and the UK in terms of population, wages and housing.
Alan McCarthy - Chief Exec, Brighton & Hove City Council. The challenges facing the city in terms of employment, where to live and how to service the population.
Derek Maddison - Manager, Churchill Square. Plans for developing the main shopping area in Brighton, given the space available as well as the age of the site.
Julie Stanford - President, B&H Chamber of Commerce. What this means to the businesses in the city.
The Public Sector employs 27% of the workforce in Brighton, Tourism, not surprisingly 20%, Business and Finance 26% and the Creative Industry 15%. Only 4% of businesses are involved in Manufacturing. More surprising is that 85% of business have less than ten employees. Wages are however the lowest in the UK and South-East, possibly because of the high amount of tourism, seasonal workers and traditional low page jobs associated with hotels, restaurants and bars of which there are plenty. The population is likely to increase by 33,000 in the next couple of decades but jobs will not increase by the same amount.
Affordable housing is a big issue around the country and not just in Brighton where the controversial plans to build two tower blocks at either end of the city has had residents in uproar. There's a need for housing - there are more residents in the Brighton area than workers (many workers commuting to the nearby metropolis of London - or they just don't work). Of course being a pretty built-up area there's a limited amount of land available on which to build. This is the reason for some of the more controversial plans up for debate. You can get an awful lot more homes in the same space if you go upwards. Average house prices are over 40% more than the average for the rest of the UK and considering the low wage there's a need for affordable housing - also part of these plans.
A few facts and figures that create a better understanding of the challenges of living in a large, growing city which needs jobs, housing and an economy to support it.