Anger as The Economist calls to stop revival of 'failing' city centres like Wolverhampton

Measures to revive Wolverhampton's economy should be scrapped and its inhabitants 'saved' by getting help to work elsewhere, an influential newspaper has claimed.

An aerial view of Wolverhampton
An aerial view of Wolverhampton

The Economist, which is read by some of Britain's most well-heeled business executives, has criticised measures such as the Government's Enterprise Zones and said efforts to boost trade in the city are 'kindly' but 'misguided'.

In an editorial column headlined 'Some towns cannot be preserved. Save their inhabitants instead', the newspaper says the Government should not try to 'rescue' 'failing' towns. It says: "Instead they should support the people who live in them. That means helping them to commute or move to places where there are jobs – and giving them the skills to get those jobs." It also says Wolverhampton, Hull and Hartlepool have too many betting shops and payday lenders. "Wolverhampton looks the worst, having condemned parts of its town centre for a shopping mall that never came," it said, in a reference to the abandoned plans for the £300 million Summer Row scheme.

The comment piece brought a furious reaction from Wolverhampton politicians today. Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said: "Population trends show more people are living here. We have just had a huge investment in infrastructure under the Building Schools for the Future programme.

"We have to be able to generate our own growth. We have the most successful Enterprise Zone in the country with Jaguar Land Rover on it. This is an ill-judged comment made without any reference to the interest we are generating in investment in our city.

"There is an awful lot going on. And there's more of a buzz about the place now than there was six or seven years ago."

Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East, said: "This seems like a rush job by The Economist. They have not considered the rays of light Wolverhampton has from the massive boost from Jaguar Land Rover and they have not considered the new strategies to attract more investment. The council and myself as local MP are putting our energies into improving the reputation of Wolverhampton, which is geographically very well placed and has a huge amount to offer."

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