Frank Ross: Many reasons to smile about life in the Capital

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Why are the Capital’s residents the happiest of the largest ten cities in the UK? This is just one of many statistics published in the latest Edinburgh by Numbers and comes from the Office for National Statistics.

The definition of happiness is a widely debated topic in many circles throughout the world. I am no philosopher so I won’t try to define what happiness is, but what is very clear is that the city is very prosperous and attracts many people to live, visit and invest in it.

Another statistic in Edinburgh by Numbers shows that the city is the second most prosperous UK city outside London. This prosperity has attracted large amounts of inward investment making it an easy place to find highly-skilled, highly-mobile workers – who are choosing to live here. Last year, Edinburgh was second only to London in the UK for foreign direct investment, attracting 34 projects creating almost 2000 new jobs. This is recognised independently when Edinburgh was ranked as the best large city in Europe for foreign direct investment in fDi’s European Cities and Regions of the Future awards 2012-13.

For those in work, wages in the city are also attractive. Gross earnings have grown consistently year on year throughout the recession. In 2012 earnings in Edinburgh were 7.9 per cent above the Scottish average.

I recognise that getting people into work is essential for the future well-being of the people in the city. People are flocking to live in Edinburgh and the population increased by 6.3 per cent between 2001 and 2011. There is therefore a lot of work to be done by our Strategy for Jobs to help people find work and stay in employment, and the council has asked its public sector partners and Edinburgh’s 
businesses to help support the creation of 20,000 new jobs in the city.

Population growth is an indication of how successful the city economy is and shows people from all over the world want to live and work here. This also brings some challenges in terms of housing and infrastructure.

One of the Capital coalition’s pledges is to make sure the city’s people are well housed, including encouraging developers to build residential communities, starting with brownfield sites. We hope to achieve this by working with the Scottish Government to release more funds for housing associations and council homes for rent and ownership, the establishment of a task force to bring empty homes into use and by encouraging the development of cooperative housing arrangements.

You only have to walk around the city and take in the city’s rich culture and heritage to understand why, as well as having happy residents, Edinburgh is a multi-award winning city, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Edinburgh was awarded the top UK city prize for the 13th year in a row by the Observer Travel Awards. The feedback we’ve had when winning accolades such as these, and from the hotels and attractions we work with, is that visitors are captivated by Edinburgh; its history, culture and beauty.

Councillor Frank Ross is convener of the city’s economy committee.