Nik Butler: Will growth of creative industries outpace aviation?

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

Recent spectators of the political and economic issues of Horsham might be forgiven for their mistaken belief that this town survives through the job creation within Gatwick.

Indeed in listening to councillors, and pro-expansion campaigns, you would think the only chance for a future of living in this market town was by working at the airport.

I seem to remember a time, over two decades ago, when that tune was very different. You were to leave school and the best hope of employment was Sun Alliance or Ciba Geigy; sure you might get a job at Gatwick but that was almost like going to work in London.

What was interesting in the recent debates was how little awareness of the new job market the councillors demonstrated.

They talked about high tech jobs as if they were things only available through Gatwick.

Meanwhile Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport is concerned that protesting and dismissing the expansion would be turning back the clock on everyone’s interest. I am sorry Mr Wingate but when it comes to talking about job creation, and the economy, air travel is exactly like turning back the clock; and just like a clock the concept that expanding air travel is better for Britain is merely a wind up.

According to a 2014 report by the Airport Operators Association the UK aviation industry is worth £52 billion to the UK GDP. Compare that to the output of the UK Creative industry which in 2013 generated £77 Billion, up from £70 billion in 2012, and no one had to build new runways, create more noise, or add more particles to the air. In one year the creative industry made more than the cost to tax payers should the additional runway go to Heathrow.

For an industry that has been around in less time than air travel it seems remarkably robust at creating wealth and no one seems concerned about adding another internet connection to their village. Horsham was very much a part of that £77 billion and yet I never heard it mentioned in those debates.

You tell me Mr Wingate; is it turning back to the clock to ignore the promise of jam tomorrow; or is it possible that by the time those spades are striking the ground in 2020 that the Internet and UK creative industry will deliver opportunities in Horsham to outpace all your future runways.