St Helens Well Placed to Beat Economic Downturn

St Helens is one of the best equipped towns in the country to survive the looming recession, according to new research.

The town - along with Tewkesbury, Dover and Corby - is well placed to ride out the current economic storm.

Figures complied by the Oxford Economics give councils across the country a vulnerability score depending on how well placed they are to cope with the downturn.

St Helens has the best score on Merseyside and, at 282 out of 408, one of the better scores in the country.

The figures are based on local factors such as types of industry in any one area. Types are scored for vulnerability in the current economic climate and an overall score is achieved.

The report highlights that Central London, other London Boroughs and the wealthy areas of Macclesfield, Chester and Bournemouth among others, which have high concentrations of jobs in banking and auxiliary services are those most at threat.

However, the findings of the report, released last week, will make stark reading for many in the town. Eighty jobs were lost last week when Pimblett's collapsed, and earlier this month figures showed 1,700 repossession orders had been issued by courts in St Helens so far this year - an increase of 20 per cent from 2007.

Councillor Richard Ferry, executive member for Urban Regeneration, said: " Everyone is worried about the economy being hit by the twin pressures of the credit crunch which is restricting the supply of finance particularly for house buying, and a squeeze on disposable incomes due to the high rises in energy and food prices.

"A key part of our economic strategy has been to attract a wide range on business and industry making us well placed to ride out economic downturns and it does seem that this is making us well placed to ride out economic downturns.

"While recognising that the credit crunch is adversely affecting many families in St.Helens we can take come comfort from this report that we might not be as badly affected as many part of the country."

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