Scilly And Cornwall Slipping Further Down Economic League Tables

hugh town centre summerScilly and Cornwall are slipping further down in league tables that show the strength of the economies across Europe.

New figures compare our GDP, the average value of goods and services produced per resident, with other regions.

We now have a poorer standard of living than parts of Bulgaria and Poland.

EU grant funding for schemes like the Local Action Group, the Porthcressa Regeneration, airport and quay works has been offered because we’re an area that achieves under 75% of the European average GDP.

But even though over £1 billion of grant money has been pumped into the region since the mid-90s, the economic performance figures are worse. The most recent data from 2011 was released this week.

We’ve fallen from 72% of the target in 2010 to 64% in 2011.

We asked the Council’s Economic Development Manager Diana Mompoloki for her view but she said she felt unable to comment, as she “didn’t own the data.”

The Local Enterprise Partnership did want to comment. They say that part of the problem has been a fall in income for self employed people across the UK and we have a greater number of people who work for themselves.

The LEP believes their latest bid for EU cash will boost Scilly’s future economic performance.

Their request for £15m to improve water and sewage systems here would allow “unfettered” growth and development here, by providing adequate infrastructure.

They say visitors expect clean drinking and seawater and improving the infrastructure would prevent economic decline and eventual depopulation.

And there would be a knock on effect by supporting the building of 50 new homes. That could create at least 25 new businesses and safeguard 300 existing ones.

But St Mary’s businessman Ted Moulson is critical. He feels grants could be used on big transport infrastructure schemes like rail links or a new helicopter service.

And he maintains that easy loan terms would be better than grants because the cash pot would be replenished. Ted says he could expand, creating 3 or 4 new full time jobs, but access to capital is currently too costly.

But businesses in Scilly are reporting improved conditions. Ted believes that, after a disappointing year last year, the worst is behind us.

Ben Julian says most of his Churchtown Flower Farm income comes from exporting to the mainland and after a few static years, trade has increased.

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