Reflections on Glasgow’s 23rd State of the Economy Conference
By Martin Avila
On Friday the 1st of October Glasgow hosted its 23rd State of the City Economy conference, unsurprisingly in a large corporate hotel chain venue in Glasgow City Centre.
The keynote speech from Council Leader Susan Aitken outlined a lofty vision of creating a greener, healthier and fairer Glasgow. Jobs and Business Glasgow and City Property Chair Angus Millar tweeted Susan’s statement that net zero represented “not just a moral obligation but an economic opportunity”.
The city centre is to be key to this economic and environmental transformation. A £30 billion “Green print” for investment was touted as being the manner in which investment was to be secured for plans that involve capping the M8, building a metro system for Greater Glasgow and planting millions of trees. Glasgow universities are to be at the heart of this transformation through the innovation districts, with a per head of population to top class universities ratio that should be the envy of cities across the world.
We were told that the mistakes of deindustrialisation are not to be repeated, but were given little explanation of what these were and how they are to be avoided today. We were told that one problem with deindustrialisation was that people weren’t consulted, with no plan for how people would be involved in this massive transformation.
What wasn’t asked at the conference was:
Who is to pay for all of this? Who will own everything at the end of it?
How do we ensure that the PFI mess, and mortgaging off of Glasgow’s assets through City Property and Glasgow Life is not repeated?
How are we to build a wellbeing economy around a model of extractive corporate capitalism?
How is any of this going to be squared with the Community Wealth Building agenda, which was only mentioned briefly in terms of an upcoming Community Wealth Building Plan?