UK: Caledonia's duopoly. (2 of 3)

UK: Caledonia's duopoly. (2 of 3) - While Edinburgh is less aggressive about selling itself to prospective incomers, the city is doing well enough. A number of crucial developments are now underway. The most important is probably the 135,000 sq ft "finan

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

While Edinburgh is less aggressive about selling itself to prospective incomers, the city is doing well enough. A number of crucial developments are now underway. The most important is probably the 135,000 sq ft "financial services centre" which Scottish Metropolitan is building on Castle Terrace. The city is also expanding rapidly to the west with an assortment of science parks, offices and large-scale shopping and housing developments. Much of it will be built on land owned by companies belonging to Scottish entrepreneur David Murray. He also owns the Glasgow Rangers football club and his company Murray Media is about to launch a new Glasgow-based Sunday newspaper.

But Edinburgh business folk are irate over the delays which have plagued the proposed 1.1 million sq ft Edinburgh International Financial and Conference Centre due to be built in the west end of the city. "What Edinburgh lacks is civic leadership of the kind they have in Glasgow," charges Grossart.

For all that, Charlotte Square seems secure in its supremacy of Scotland's financial sector. Glasgow likes to boast that its financial sector is now as big as Edinburgh's (at least in terms of jobs) but their statistics are dubious. Murray Johnstone of Glasgow may now be one of the biggest and most energetic fund managers in Scotland, and some "back office" work has now found its way to the city, but it is small beer compared with Edinburgh's financial community.

Apart from a large clutch of fund managers like Ivory and Sime, Dunedin Fund Managers, Baillie Gifford and Edinburgh Fund Managers, Edinburgh hosts seven mutual life offices, a raft of merchant banks, and the headquarters of three major clearers - TSB Scotland, Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Although the Scottish banks are now feeling the chill from mortgage defaults and bad debts, financial Edinburgh seems to be in good heart. "The whole business infrastructure of the city has improved enormously," says Grossart.

Both cities have seen their industrial sectors slashed in the past 10 years. Glasgow's shipbuilding, heavy engineering, steel-making and metal fabrication industries are shadows of their former selves. Edinburgh's food and drink industry, paper-making, printing and publishing have suffered almost as badly. The city's industrial sector lost more than 10,000 jobs in the past decade which was slightly offset by a gain of 1,500 or so at the Edinburgh end of "silicon glen". But now that defence cuts are looming, a shadow is hanging over the 6,000 or so jobs provided by the Ferranti operations in Edinburgh.

Nor is the "peace bonus" likely to do the naval shipbuilder, Yarrow, on the Clyde much good. A thousand workers might have to be laid off unless there is some kind of upturn. And the Glasgow-based mining equipment firm of Anderson Strathclyde (now part of Charter Consolidated) is suffering from the contraction of the UK coal industry.

But the industrial gloom is not unrelieved. One of Edinburgh's most important companies is Scottish and Newcastle, which has been remodelled and produced a record £114.5 million profit for the six months to the end of October 1990. And the Glasgow-based Weir Group reports a turnover that has shot up from £60 million last year to around £100 million this year. "We're doing well from oil and gas, water and sewage and general manufacturing," says the group's spokesman Emrys Inker, "and not so well from the naval and maritime and the power generation sectors."

But the (relative) success of both cities has not produced any outbreak of solidarity. The inter-city bickering goes on. While Glasgow is jubilant that Prestwick airport has lost its role as Scotland's "gateway" airport, Edinburgh is arguing that Glasgow is being given favourable treatment. Now George Kerevan, the convenor of Edinburgh's economic development committee, is accusing BAA of "air piracy" which is "favouring Edinburgh's competitors" - ie. Glasgow.

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