Slow internet? Not in this city you haven't
PLYMOUTH is among the leading British cities in rolling out superfast broadband as the pain of recession appeared to be easing, according to a new study.
By last summer 79per cent of Plymouth's postcodes had access to the fastest broadband speeds, the Centre for Cities think tank said.
By contrast Hull, the worst-performing of the UK's 64 major cities, had just 3per cent connectivity.
"Broadband connection is now a key component of the infrastructure offer that a city can make to attract businesses as well as supporting growth of its indigenous business population," the Cities Outlook 2013 said.
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The Centre for Cities analysed the impact of the economic downturn.
Plymouth was 21st least affected in 2008-09, and improved marginally to 20th in 2009-12 in a list headed by Crawley, Reading, Oxford, Aberdeen and London.
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, questioned statistics showing a poor rate of business activity.
In 2011 Plymouth was one of 48 cities which had a greater number of business starts than closures. This was an improvement on 2010 when just nine cities had more businesses start than close.
But Plymouth was near the bottom of the league table of business births in 2011, at 56th out of 64 cities.
There were 26.7 start-ups per 10,000 of Plymouth's population. This was slightly better than the closure rate of 23.3 per 10,000, giving a net increase in the number of businesses.
Plymouth was the fourth worst city in the country for the number of businesses, with 205.4 businesses per 10,000 people in 2011, up from 201.8 in 2010.
Mr Parlby said the Government regularly based its statistics on VAT-registered businesses.
"We have a high level of start-ups, but they tend not to be very big companies," Mr Parlby said.
"About 500 started up as a result of our Urban Enterprise scheme over the past three years but they would not be VAT-registered," he said.
The city's workforce was near the bottom of the qualifications table, with 26.7per cent rated as highly qualified (NVQ4 or above). Mansfield was the worst, at just 17.1 per cent, and Oxford the best with 58.7per cent.
But the city also had one of the lowest levels of people with no formal qualifications at all, at 7.4per cent. Worthing in East Sussex was best at 2.3per cent and Belfast was the worst at 19.8per cent.
Mr Parlby said Plymouth manufacturers told him they had problems recruiting engineers.
Weekly pay at £454.40 for full-time workers put Plymouth among the middle-of-the-road cities, with London at the top (£627) and Hull the worst (£361).
Plymouth was ninth from the bottom in cities with the worst ratio of public to private sector jobs (36,700 to 69,900 jobs, or 34per cent working in the public sector).
Oxford had the highest rate of public sector jobs at 49per cent, with Dundee and Cambridge bringing up the rear.
Mr Parlby said this was not surprising because of the influence of universities, and because Plymouth was the biggest city in the South West after Bristol, making it the natural headquarters for public sector agencies.
Efforts by the council to reduce its carbon footprint have paid off, making Plymouth eighth best for carbon dioxide emissions, at 5.1 tonnes per resident. Middlesbrough, the worst, was on 14.5 tonnes.
A city council spokeswoman said: "The council is working to improve access to jobs and has kick-started the Plan for Jobs, committing to create 2,000 jobs across 19 projects over the next two years. This includes measures to support new business start-ups."