We’re the biggest outside London, inside London it’s too dark to read

A letter we sent to the Birmingham Post the other day, do they still have ‘letters to the editor’ in papers these days?

Dear Sir,

I think we all agree that there are times when Birmingham should blow it’s own trumpet, excepting of course those times when we need our hands free to bang our own drum, but articles such as Birmingham ‘most entrepreneurial city outside London(16 Jan) do us no good at all.

The article – based on data from Startup Britain – informs us that our city has more new businesses were registered last year “than any other city outside the capital.” Great news, for the second city: but it would only really be newsworthy if we weren’t — as we have by a long way the largest population of any UK city ‘outside London (over a quarter of a million more people more by any calculation).

Birmingham (population approx one million people) had 17,473 new businesses, Manchester (population approx 430,000 – less than half a Brum) registered 9,416. It doesn’t take an entrepreneurial maths wizard to see that England’s third city is doing a little better than its second by this arbitrary measure.

Startup Britain’s own data, (which is freely available to all) suggests that Birmingham was in fact the 16th highest area in Great Britain for new businesses registered per 1000 people.

Bromsgrove – also in our patch – was the top area in the county for startups last year by population, without having to take London (4th!) out of the equation. Surely some praise for — and learning from — our near neighbours might be in order.

Spinning of the stats can only breed contentment instead of reflection on what actually is working and what isn’t. There may be something interesting our political and business leaders could learn from this information: but the Birmingham Post has failed here to even point vaguely towards it.

This is part of a wider problem, on 11 Jan Tory WM mayoral hopeful Andy Street was quoted without challenge as telling us “More people arrive by train in Birmingham every day than any other city outside London” — I wonder why that is?

Google gives nearly 3,000 results for the phrase ‘outside London’ on the Birmingham Post website, maybe our sights are set a little wrongly, and aren’t peering closely enough.

Yours as ever,

Howard Wilkinson,

Paradise Circus


Author: Howard Wilkinson

Director of Satire, Paradise Circus. Howard adds stability at the top, taking a strategic overview of operations whilst also stepping in from time to time in a caretaker author role.