City is little more than university town
THE closure of Plymouth's Disney Store this summer is inevitable given the national economic picture which has left Plymouth increasingly isolated with deep-seated economic problems made worse by its poor connectivity.
The root cause of Plymouth's economic problems over the last few decades have been the increasing lack of disposable income to spend in retail and leisure in the city centre.
The few Plymothians who still do have disposable income now, tend to shop in the more affluent shopping centres like Exeter or Bristol with its correspondingly lower shop vacancy rates and more big named retailers.
In the past Plymouth's economy was dominated by a booming public sector which is now being slowly dismembered by continual public spending cuts with nothing much in the way of well paid private sector jobs replacing them.
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Add to that a high benefits culture that is facing a huge shake-up, the results of which will take even more money out of Plymouth's under-performing economy.That combination will hardly attract the big investors the city desperately needs to redevelop our ailing city centre and will simply reinforce the vicious circle of decline.
As for how we fit into the big picture, well in an article on the BBC's news on line site, its economics editor describes rather ominously London's now unhealthy and overwhelming dominance of the British economy in this way: "A first-rate city with a second-rate country attached". That is how one rather brutal friend of mine describes London, she says adding, he happens to be an American, working in the city. But plenty of people working or staying in London from around the world feel the same way.
Poorly connected provincial cities like Plymouth face at best stagnation now or at worst decline as investment capital continues to flow more than ever before into the London "honey pot" at the expense of even major provincial cities like Birmingham and Manchester currently.Only those cities with good transport links to the capital, and in our neck of the woods that only really means Bristol and possibly Exeter, stand any chance of tapping into London's success in any meaningful way in the 21st century.
Plymouth is no longer the South West's economic power it once was and is becoming little more than a university "town" by the sea really, oops sorry ocean and probably historically had their never been an Empire or Navy that is all Plymouth would probably become anyway, just another large coastal town like Falmouth.