Hands up if you have heard of Cambridge&? I hadn't till this morning. If you are equally ignorant, I can recommend you head for p61 of June papers for @GreaterCambs Executive Board (neatly hidden in among Agenda Item 6 'GCP Quarterly Progress Report) bit.ly/3mMHOZw
Cambridge& appears to be the next generation of the @CambNetwork and @CambAhead family but with an expanded mission - to act as the "One Source of Truth" (yes, and with that capitalisation) to encourage new investment into Greater Cambridge
Why is this a good thing when the Cambridge employment market is *already* racing ahead of homes, leading to an overheated housing market, priced out local workers, congested roads, and an apparent appetite for building on every blade of grass in and around the city?
[Remember that the 'First Conversation' of the emerging Local Plan did not provide for any discussion of whether continued rapid growth was desirable. Growth was taken as a given, all the options were around where it should happen and what mitigation might be applied]
Fortunately, the Cambridge& paper explains why it's necessary: "We are currently losing out to other UK and global clusters who are more joined up and professional
in their approach to inward investor relationships." But let's unpick that - see this table of Competitor Analysis
What that table fails to highlight is the relative scales of those Combined Authorities:
population of Greater Manchester CA: 2.7m
population of West Midlands CA: 2.8m
population of Greater Cambs & Peterboro CA: 0.8m
[ONS data 2019: bit.ly/32caH9w]
On that basis, you could conclude that GCPA getting 75% of the successes of Manchester & the West Midlands with 30% of the population is extremely impressive. And there's more important content in that same ONS document, indicating how we're performing against these 'competitors'
For example, we have a far higher rate of employment
We earn more:
We have more disposable income:
We have fewer areas experiencing deprivation:
We have higher life expectancy:
Now it looks like we're already doing rather well against our competitors. One might almost argue that it's a bit - greedy? - to try to hoover up more growth. But hey, at least our 'competitors' aren't as short of water as we are cambridgeindependent.co.uk/business/cambr…
@GreaterCambs found this proposition so powerful that they gave Cambridge& £50k for the next phase of development. No surprise as three GCP officers are members of the working group (Annex A). Sadly the public can't yet see what their money has bought cambridgeand.com
Fortunately there is a little more data available at Companies House …te.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/124826…
Clearly there is much more to learn about how Cambridge& will be "enhancing the Quality of Life" of the region (p73) and delivering "economic and social benefits" (p83) which it is hoped will emerge from the envisaged targeting of investors and lobbying of national government
There are also questions about how appropriate checks and balances will be applied. Cambridge& will undoubtedly benefit from a stellar Board of Directors + sizeable staff. How will local communities get their voices heard? What degree of local govt capture has already occurred?
This is the kind of behind-the-scenes power play that feeds concerns about proponents of the growth agenda. Put your material in public, be transparent about the consequences, answer questions, address legitimate concerns. Or let people conclude that you have something to hide

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More from @Sam_in_Cam

20 Mar 19
Everyone looking thrilled to be @GreaterCambs Executive Board
Lots of use of the word 'opportunity' already
Big thumbs up for the new boss @Stagecoach_East re being more open minded and progressive
Read 26 tweets

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