Local Magazines

A Review of the Local Economic Landscape

Local Economic Landscape Sign across Hornsey Lane

Local Economic Landscape

A Review of the Local Economic Landscape

A few issue ago, I looked at some of the issues likely to affect the pound on our pocket (thank you, Harold Wilson) over the coming year and, surprise, surprise, the economic landscape has changed in just a few short months:

According to the forecasting group EY Item Club growth in the UK economy will be lower than was anticipated a short while ago, with a prediction of 2.4% which falls some way below the organisation’s previous forecast of 3.1% and under the growth indicated by the Bank of England (3%), the CBI (2.7%) and the IMF (2.7%).

Contributing “wider world” factors to the above situation include concerns about what’s happening in the Eurozone, which will impact on UK exports, and of course the continuing uncertainty over events in Ukraine which despite having dropped off the front pages in the last few weeks remain to my mind a major concern politically, economically, and, I fear, militarily.

It is global factors that, it seems, are in part contributing to a stalling of the “bounce” everyone felt earlier this year, with wage inflation remaining low and house prices in London tailing off after huge leaps earlier in the year. Why, there’s even talk of mortgage lenders having to compete for business…..

So what’s now being said by some is that to avoid a return to economic stagnation, interest rates are now likely to remain low for some time now – you’ll remember that a few months back I felt that any hike would occur at around the end of this year, but now…who knows?

Then there’s the increasing uncertainty about what the political landscape will look like after next May’s General Election – will either of the “big two” parties achieve an overall majority? Will the Lib Dems survive as a political force in the country and power-brokers in a potential coalition? Will UKIP become the new third force in UK politics or turn out to be a mid-term “flash in the pan” focus for disillusionment with the main parties? A few months ago, I would have predicted a minority Labour government emerging, but as with interest rates…who knows?

In terms of the High Street, here are some of the latest numbers, courtesy of Sharecast:

Sales from retailers in the UK fell by 0.8% in September, according to the Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, with like-for-like (LFL) revenues down 2.1% down as clothing, footwear, food and online sales all suffered; the worst performing product categories in the month were clothing and footwear, which recorded their weakest sales since April 2012 and March 2103 respectively.

Over a three-month period, food retail sales worsened 1.7% and endured the first twelve-month average decline in at least five years, falling 0.2%.

Non-food reported growth of 3.0% over the three months to September 2014, underperforming its twelve-month average of 3.6%.

Online sales of non-food products saw their lowest online growth since August 2013, with an increase of 8.2% year-on-year.

One major factor in the above is that we enjoyed unseasonably mild weather during the month of September, but looking at the general economic situation it seems inevitable that over the coming months the economic and political uncertainty I’ve talked about above will have an effect. We shall see.

In other news, and as our uncertain and dangerous world keeps turning, the soap opera that is Hornsey Depot runs on at near-Coronation Street length, with those be-caped, moustache-twirling panto villains from St James deciding – highly controversially and at great risk of insulting the area’s recycling heritage (joke – see last issue) – to throw a few more coals onto the Hornsey Action Group’s bonfire of outrage by deciding to re-name the development as…

…wait for it…..

….Smithfield Square.

What would have been wrong with something more in keeping with the recent use of the site? Abandoned Public Bath House Boulevard? Rubbish Tip Towers?

In fact, it appears that St James have done a bit of research and named the development in honour of an ornate wrought iron sign erected to advertise the presence of the old Smithfield Refrigeration Works on Cross Lane – as good as anything, I’d have thought, but clearly not for some, including those who enjoy the ripe odour of a good (if bizarre) conspiracy theory, like one local resident, Jennifer Bell, who according to comments published in the Ham & High (19.09.14) believes that naming the site Smithfield Square (which I like by the way) is a “cynical attempt to conjure up images of the City” and indeed makes analogous references to the Smithfield Meat Market and the “slaughter of our community”. Unbelievable….

Needless to say, Lynne Featherstone is reported as being “equally incensed”.

Staying with Smithfield Square for short while, and I’d be the last to suggest that anyone would seek to make political capital out of an absolutely dire situation for residents of New River which, regardless of whether they’ve arisen as a result of inherent defect or mismanagement has to be resolved in the extremely short term, but my forward-thinking friends at the HAG have seemingly been very quick to link this matter with the new development on the basis that St James built New River. Naughty, and not helpful!!

And finally…..many thanks to those who took the time and trouble to write to me after my last column. Opinions were, not at all surprisingly divided. With regard to my reflections on Smithfield Square: it’s always good to hear what people think so keep ‘em coming!

Next issue, I promise, will be a Smithfield Square-free zone…..

If after reading this there is anything you would like to talk to me about, please call me on 07984 184427 or email me at jonathan@jonathanbrowne.co.uk

About Jonathan Browne (13 Articles)
Libertarian, gourmand, Villa fan, guitar player, bar stool philosopher and mensch; I also know a bit about about buildings and businesses; and businesses in buildings