Of Sheds and Shedmen…

My pal Iain Scott has just written a swingeing piece on the problems of the ‘inward investment, picking winners and cosying up to large companies’ approach that has underwritten governmental approaches to economic development not just here in the UK, but across most of the west, at national, regional and local levels.  An approach that he characterises as being about ‘sheds and shedmen’.
So how have the ‘sheds and shedmen’ got such a tight grip on our economic policy and associated investments?
  1. Large well organised bodies of professionals make a lot of money from it – architects, planners, developers – they spend fortunes on organised lobbying – just look at the sponsorship of most of the big regeneration conferences – nearly all ‘sheds and shedmen’.  Look at MIPIM.  They will not easily give up their market share.
  2. Politicians like ‘sheds and shedmen’ because they give them something to open and point at.  ‘Look at the lovely building we have delivered, see how it shines, my lovely….’
  3. Politicians also like ‘sheds and shedmen’ because they provide interventions that can fit within an electoral cycle…when you elected me this was  a wasteland…now it has a ‘shed’.  More person centred approaches to tackling often generational problems in the local economy are likely to take longer and may not provide the short term ‘electoral’ benefits that our democratic leaders require
  4. Much of the electorate fall for the seductive line of ‘attracting employers who will bring us jobs and a bright and shiny future’. We have failed to provide them with a different, more compelling and honest narrative.  We have also failed to expose the nature of the ‘deals’ that are often required to attract such investment.
I am sure there are other reasons, but these strike me as the big ones!
So I propose a mission: to influence investment away from steel, concrete & glass and into people, their aspirations and progress.

Who is up for that?
Get in touch and we will organise….


  1. Interesting points – and of course one of the biggest draws for inward investors should be the workforce and their talents.

    However, high-quality workspace and physical infrastructure is a prerequisite for a lot of firms – surely you wouldn’t want Leeds losing out on jobs because of a dearth of buildings to house new employers?

  2. Not likely to be an issue in #Leeds for a while I suspect.

  3. johnpopham says:

    Definitely count me in Mike.

    One of my earliest jobs, in the dim and distant past, was working for a special unit of Nottinghamshire County Council populated by “bright young things” which was set up to promote people-centred economic development as a counterpart to the property-centred focus of the main Economic Development Unit.

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