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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 16:27 GMT
Cities 'better' but behind Europe
Bristol city centre
Bristol has the 34th best performing economy among European cities
England's cities have improved in recent years but still lag behind the top cities in continental Europe, according to a new report.

State of the Cities, an independent report published on Tuesday, shows major towns and cities in England are "recovering after years of decline".

But England's best economically performing city, London, trails behind 22 cities in continental Europe.

The study also looked at fields such as jobs, crime and racial integration.


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Unveiling the report, John Prescott said England's cities had made "remarkable progress".

But the Conservative Party's local government spokeswoman said the report showed the government's regeneration programmes had led to "unimaginative design, soul-less communities and an urban vision of mediocrity".

The study was put together for the government by a group of city experts, led by Professor Michael Parkinson of Liverpool John Moores University.

It studied 56 of the largest towns and cities in England, taking into account - among other things - public opinion, academic works, case studies, reviews of international cities and interviews with policy makers.

It is considered to be the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of England's cities and towns - looking at their performance, challenges they face and their potential.

Racial integration improved

The report concluded England's cities were closer to being on a par with Europe's elite than at any other time since the end of the 19th century.

But only London (23rd), Bristol (34th) and Leeds (43rd) are among the 50 European cities with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while Germany has 21 of the top 50.

Liverpool skyline
Liverpool's male life expectancy is three years lower than London's

Edinburgh is in 25th place and Glasgow 29th.

The report shows the economies of English towns and cities tend to have improved faster than less urban areas, with nine of the cities studied having economic growth rates more than 10% above the national average.

But it found cities in the North and West tended to perform worse than those in the South and East, with the exception of Manchester and Leeds.

The study found that in 2003, cities accounted for 63% of England's jobs, with 58% of the country's population living in cities.

The report also showed that, in 48 of the 56 areas studied, racial integration had improved since the early 1990s.

Only in Blackburn and Norwich was there a "significant" increase.

The growth of London's ethnic minority population accounted for almost half of England's total increase between 1991 and 2001.

Birmingham skyline
Birmingham was among the 56 English cities and towns studied

The report found England's cities had improved as places to live since the turn of the century, with problems such as crime, graffiti, litter and dog fouling seen as decreasing, and more people happy with parks and urban spaces.

It found employment conditions had improved in some of the poorest cities and towns, with Wigan, Grimsby, Middlesbrough and Hull highlighted as areas where increases in employment has exceeded the national average.

It also showed a narrowing of the gap between poorer neighbourhoods and the rest of England in educational achievement and teenage pregnancy.

'Further to go'

But while health is generally improving and people living longer across England, health is worse in towns and cities than in rural areas, with the exception of London. Men in London and Bristol can expect to live three years longer than men in Liverpool.

The report also found public satisfaction with the performance of local government was low in comparison with most other public services.

Mr Prescott said: "This report, unprecedented in its scope, shows our cities are very much back in business as successful places to live and work.

Frankfurt in Germany has the highest GDP of any European city

"People are returning to our towns and cities, which have more jobs, rising prosperity, better public services, and a cleaner, safer, greener environment."

But local government minister David Miliband admitted: "If we want to get into the European Champions League of cities, we have got further to go and that's what we have got to do.

"Our cities, as well as being more prosperous as ever before, remain divided.

"That is something we need to address, because however important transport and skills and universities are, we have also got to carry on that fight against worklessness and social exclusion."

1 Frankfurt am Main Germany 74,465
2 Karlsruhe Germany 70,097
3 Paris France 67,200
4 Munich Germany 61,360
5 Düsseldorf Germany 54,053
6 Stuttgart Germany 53,570
7 Brussels Belgium 51,106
8 Copenhagen Denmark 50,775
9 Hanover Germany 47,223
10 Hamburg Germany 43,098
11 Mannheim Germany 41,674
12 Nuremburg Germany 41,456
14 Augsburg Germany 39,360
14 Cologne Germany 39,108
15 Amsterdam Netherlands 38,203
16 Münster Germany 38,149
17 Wiesbaden Germany 37,454
18 Dublin Ireland 36,591
19 Vienna Austria 36,572
20 Stockholm Sweden 35,733
21 Gelsenkirchen Germany 35,688
22 Helsinki Finland 35,322
23 London UK 35,072
24 Bremen Germany 35,022
25 Edinburgh UK 35,018
26 Bonn Germany 34,112
27 Antwerp Belgium 33,090
28 Milan Italy 32,122
29 Glasgow UK 31,893
30 Utrecht Netherlands 31,712
31 Saarbrücken Germany 30,368
32 The Hague Netherlands 30,110
33 Essen Germany 29,760
34 Bristol UK 29,437
35 Lyon France 28,960
36 Bologna Italy 28,282
37 Bochum Germany 27,900
38 Parma Italy 27,491
39 Dortmund Germany 26,548
40 Rotterdam Netherlands 26,227
41 Strasbourg France 26,015
42 Florence Italy 25,693
43 Leeds UK 25,619
44 Duisburg Germany 25,259
45 Eindhoven Netherlands 25,226
46 Turin Italy 25,042
47 Toulouse France 24,852
48 Rome Italy 24,766
49 Bordeaux France 24,252
50 Malmo Sweden 24,233
51 Gothenberg Sweden 24,065
52 Grenoble France 24,026
53 Verona Italy 23,954
54 Berlin Germany 23,428
55 Marseilles France 22,809
56 Birmingham UK 22,069
57 Manchester UK 21,099
58 Newcastle-upon-Tyne UK 20,499
59 Lille France 20,191
60 Barcelona Spain 18,449
61 Liverpool UK 16,466
Source: State of the English Cities report

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