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BBC Scotland's Alexandra McKenzie reports
"The disparity could affect Scotland's prosperity"
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Alexandra McKenzie
"Glasgow says the figures are out of date"
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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 09:43 GMT
Prosperity 'a tale of two cities'
Edinburgh is maintaining its leading status, the report says

The widening economic gulf between Edinburgh and Glasgow could affect the prosperity of the entire country, according to a report.

Researchers from Glasgow University and Heriot Watt University have warned that Edinburgh is maintaining its place as one of the top performing cities in Britain while Glasgow is deteriorating.

However, the report has been greeted with caution, particularly in Glasgow where the city council and development agency insist that major improvements had been achieved.

Glasgow: "Losing out"
The report, entitled Competitiveness and Cohesion in Scottish Cities and funded by the government and economic agencies, has pointed to marked differences in the progress of Scotland's two largest cities.

These differences, said researchers, were significant given that the cities produce 52% of Scotland's gross domestic product (GDP).

While the report stated that Glasgow produced 34% of GDP compared to 18% in Edinburgh, the GDP per head of the population in Edinburgh was 33% higher than in Glasgow.

This meant higher incomes, a greater demand for housing and higher spending on goods and services.

Other findings in the report include a 13% rise in jobs in Edinburgh since 1971 compared to a 21% fall in Glasgow.

While Glasgow's situation had stabilised, researchers said its "accumulated problems" in the employment field would not be resolved for many years.

Gradually declining

The researchers said Edinburgh, which houses the new Scottish Parliament, was experiencing an increase in its population while the population of Glasgow was declining, albeit gradually.

Unemployment was significantly higher in Glasgow and the city also suffered from extensive "poverty, exclusion and ill-health", whereas in Edinburgh these problems tended to be more localised.

The report's authors said the Scottish Parliament should "do more to promote the common interests of central Scotland".

Unemployment higher in Glasgow
They have called for the creation of a strategic framework to meet the different social, economic and environmental needs of the region.

They said Edinburgh faced the challenge of managing its high level of growth while growth had to be encouraged in Glasgow.

Overall, the report said, ministers should bear in mind the dangers for Scotland inherent in failing to address the cities' uneven economic performances.

Professor Ivan Turok, of Glasgow University, said: "We think the imbalance is not very helpful for Scotland because we've got labour shortages, high land prices, over-heating in the housing market in Edinburgh, but in the west we've got the opposite.

"We've got under-utilised labour and land - 10% of Glasgow consists of vacant and derelict land - we've got houses being demolished because of lack of demand.

Improvements 'understated'

"So this imbalance means that we've got potential that isn't maximised in the Scottish economy."

Glasgow Development Agency chief executive Stuart Gulliver said the city's achievements in recent years had to be taken into account.

He said: "The report, by its nature, understates the improvements which have come with the recovery that began in the early 1990s.

"It does offer, however, a detailed survey of the history of the Glasgow economy since 1991 and reflects the seriousness of some of the problems facing the city, especially in the early 1980s."

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See also:
28 May 99 |  Business
Report highlights urban jobs crisis
19 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Parliament ponders Royal High flit
16 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Glasgow wins child surgery bid
13 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Scotland resists UK's house price rises

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