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Keens City Round Up: Vital Signs for Milton Keynes 2017

MK Community Foundation recently launched it’s new Vital Signs 2017 Report. I think that these reports give balance to the MK agenda. We can sometimes get carried away by the economic dynamic that is Milton Keynes, in terms of growth, business value and commercial drivers. We need to take into account the underlying health check of our city provided by the report, which highlights not only the good news, but also the attendant issues which face the city going forwards.

The report highlights a number of key areas, a few of which I would comment as follows:

  • Annual job growth in MK in the year to 1st quarter of 2017 was 1.9%, the strongest annual job growth in the UK for that period
  • Total economic output of MK, measured in terms of real GVA (Gross Value Added) rose 2.8% year on year to the 1st quarter of 2017; this was second largest increase in the UK (behind only Cambridge, at 2.9%)

But it also brings out the following facts that:

  • Only 13.5% of local residents make use of our outdoor spaces in Milton Keynes for exercise or health reasons compared to 17.9% nationally
  • The rate of infant mortality in Milton Keynes is 35% higher than the national average
  • 20% of school children in year 6 are clinically obese
  • Hospital admissions for substance abuse among 15-24 year olds has increased 45% since 2013
  • Among 10 -24 year olds, hospital admissions for self-harm have increased 40% since 2013
  • Among young people 17 and under, hospital admissions for mental health-related reasons have increased 57% since 2013
  • 25% increase in reports of race-based hate crime incidents
  • 14% decrease in arrests for drug possession

In most cases,the report highlights that we perform better than the UK average, but is that good enough, when we are in the top quartile of the UK economic comparators? Of course, percentages always need to be analysed and understood, but in the final analysis, not ignored.

The report is a great addition to an understanding of the current fabric of MK and needs to be placed side-by-side with the evolving Plan:MK, and integrated within it. We need to ensure that all existing communities and groups are catered for as the excitement of the growth in the city continues.

A vote was taken by the business ratepayers of Central Milton Keynes to create a Business Improvement District (also known as Amazing CMK), and by virtue of this, those ratepayers would contribute approximately £1 million per year for the next five years to improve the quality of the environment in the city centre, above and beyond the Council’s current commitment. As a long-term employer in the city centre, with over 50 staff, I need to ensure that my team and colleagues are safe, are provided for and have a great working environment to operate in; hence my involvement as a director of the CMK BID company. CMK has grown significantly in a number of ways over the last 20 years, and there have been challenges and economic pressures placed on it which have changed the dynamic of that environment. CMK is the hub of Milton Keynes, in terms of not only business but also retail, and we have to ensure that it is a welcoming and enjoyable place to visit, as well as retaining not only a daytime, but also night-time economy, for our residents and visitors to enjoy. This is the fundamental objective, with which Amazing CMK has been tasked, and I’m sure they will embrace the challenges involved in delivering that proposition.

By Paul Davis

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