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Tom Forth @thomasforth
, 9 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
This piece on Roubaix is fantastic. Worth a month's FT subscription alone.

And of course Roubaix is a city close to our hearts at @ODILeeds -- it is the French Bradford to our 50-year twin city of Lille.

I spent a week there in February expanding @TheDataCity to France.
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity From now on I'm going to be talking Lille (Métropole Européenne de Lille -- @MEL_Lille) which contains Roubaix, Tourcoing, and other similar cities and town.

The economic history (weaving, clothes, etc...) of Leeds and Lille are extremely similar. Their present too...
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille We don't have easily-comparable data at small scales. But Lille's region has performed almost identically to Yorkshire in recent decades. And Leeds City Region feels very much like Lille. But with the usual UK vs. France differences.…
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille So Lille has much better public transport. Long electric commuter trains, two excellent autonomous metros, trams, and integrated ticketing for them all. That's why it works better as an agglomeration than Leeds City Region.
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille And it has big national institutes often co-funded locally -- like INRA, École centrale de Lille, Euratechnologies (a fantastic tech accelerator/hub mentioned in the article).
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille I spent two evening talking with tech startups in Roubaix and Tourcoing. Lots of beautiful buildings. And the metro means it is easier to commute. Which has upsides an downsides. Most of the young employees at these companies live in Lille. Some with families live in Roubaix.
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille So that's loads of upsides to Lille …… but this is why I love GDP. Because it's so comparable, I can say that despite these advantages, Lille does no better than Leeds. So there must be corresponding disadvantages that balance them out. My feeling in Lille was,
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille * France's inflexible (and thus two-tier) labour market is bad. It does make people scared to hire, especially people without a proven record. So people hire less.
* French taxes are high. Now I'm a fan of high taxes, but Belgium is 10 minutes away, and they don't play nicely.
@ODILeeds @TheDataCity @MEL_Lille Macron's reforms for the past 5 years have been about trying to improve the French problems. The #NorthernPowerhouse is about trying to improve the UK problems. Both are..... making slow progress.
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