It is time to be positive about Plymouth. After years of feeling that we are destined to permanently under-achieve, our city is now in serious danger of achieving its potential.
The largest city on the south coast, with a population of 262,700 and an ambition to grow (supported by all parties) to 300,000 by 2034. We have two excellent universities, a successful art college and the well-regarded city college.
The naval base and dockyard are thriving and employ directly and indirectly thousands of people in well-paid jobs. We are also the home to some well-known firms in a variety of sectors from manufacturing to the creative arts. Unemployment is historically low with well under 5% of people unemployed.
The advent of the internet which enables people to work from home and service clients all over the country makes our region even more attractive as a place to live and work. 95% of the city is already connected to superfast broadband with more on the way.
Despite the well-known challenges of our rail-link, there are 24 trains to London every day and incremental improvements to our rail connectivity are coming. New trains arrive next year and a new station by 2020.
Our expertise in Marine Science is internationally recognisedand gives us a stake in a future that is likely to be increasingly driven by technology.
The average house price across the city is £166,118, which is seven times the average salary. This still presents a challenge, but is markedly better than London where the same formula produces a factor of 16. There are plans for 4500 affordable homes in and around Plymouth between now and 2034.
The city sits, as it always has, in the glorious setting of Dartmoor National Park to the north, the Sound and Ocean to the south, the rolling delights of South Hams to the East and beautiful Cornwall to the West. Over recent years our waterside facilities including cafes and restaurants has increased dramatically. Our area is often found to be one of the happiest places to live in the whole country.
We are fortunate to be a place of fascinating history and in 2020 we will celebrate the departure of the Mayflower from our shores to the New World, an event which was to have long-term historic consequences for good governance and freedom.
Many challenges remain, but it is time to recognise how fortunate we are to live where we do.