Each year Lincolnshire Today Magazine invites a select panel of the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years. And, while none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been.
Here we catch up with Cllr Richard Metcalfe, Leader & Portfolio Holder for People and Resources at City of Lincoln Council.
The City of Lincoln Council, like many local authorities, plays a key role in the economic growth of its area, whether through its role in spatial planning, infrastructure development, facilitating inward investment, directly investing in housing and other capital projects, or through its crucial and recently much more recognised role as place maker and community leader.
Strong public services are critical in underpinning the successful economic growth of any area. Local authorities’ ability to do this have of course been seriously constrained of late. By 2020 local authorities in England will have experienced a £16 billion reduction in support from central government, equivalent to losing 60 pence in every pound in support for the cost of local services.
Like many other councils, here in Lincoln we have tried to respond positively to the challenge of financial constraint by greater efficiency and use of new technology, commercialisation of some of our services and by being more entrepreneurial, making investments in income generating land and property when there is a sound business case to do so.
The last year of the last decade has been an extraordinary one, the legacy of which will remain for some years. The continued uncertainty about the economic impact of Brexit not least among these.
Growth forecasts for 2020 appear to around 0.8 % rising to 1.2 % in 2021.
At local level we need to do considerably better than this if we are to realise the City’s potential, and tackle the inequality and poverty evident in some parts of our area.
We continue to benefit from two thriving Universities, with the University of Lincoln continuing to grow and invest and who have opened a new Medical School, critical to supply the new medical staff so much needed in our area.
In 2020 we will be working with partners to realise the benefits of the Town Deal monies of up to 25 million, to invest in a wide range of place making projects for Lincoln.
The start of the new decade will see further investment in our already thriving city centre, maintaining the vitality of Lincoln’s High street and it’s attractiveness as a shopper and visitor destination.
Whilst I am cautious about the wider economic prospects, I approach the new decade with considerable confidence and optimism about the prospects for further growth and success for Lincoln.