Barometer

Mind the gap: how wide is the North-South divide?

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

Red light, green light

The three tiers of Covid restrictions have been described as a ‘traffic light’ system.
— The world’s first traffic light is recorded as having been installed at the Palace of Westminster in 1868 to help MPs and peers enter and leave parliament. Those lights only had red and green phases.
— Traffic lights installed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914 incorporated a buzzer to warn that the lights were about to change. The amber phase was patented by Garrett Augustus Morgan, an African-American inventor, after witnessing an accident.

Watford Gap?

New lockdown measures have rekindled talk of a north/south divide. Has the gap widened or shrunk over the past 20 years?

GDP PER HEAD IN 2018:


London – £54,686
South-east – £34,083
North-east – £23,569
North-west – £28,449

GDP GROWTH FROM 1999-2018:

London – +84.4%
South-east – +47.5%
North-east – +30.4%
South-west –  +49.4%
Source: Office for National Statistics

Troubled waters

The subject of fishing continued to frustrate progress on a UK-EU trade deal. How big is the UK fishing industry?

— Last year, there were 5,911 registered fishing vessels, employing 12,000 people. In total they caught 622,000 tonnes of fish worth £987 million. This was a reduction of 11% and 2% respectively on 2018.
— In spite of being surrounded by sea we still have a trade gap in sea fish. Last year, we exported 452,000 tonnes and imported 721,000 tonnes.
Source: Marine Management Organisation

Little glitches

Several thousand cases of Covid-19 were left out of official figures after a spreadsheet error. There have been worse software errors, however.
— In June 1996 the European Space Agency rocket Ariane 5 exploded 40 seconds after launch in French Guiana. An inquiry found that software reused from an earlier version of the rocket could not cope with the improved performance and had tried to squeeze a 64-bit piece of data relating to its horizontal velocity into a 16-bit space.
— The disaster was reminiscent of the launch of Mariner 1 by Nasa in 1962, which was supposed to fly by Venus. It destroyed itself after 300 seconds because a crucial hyphen was omitted from the software.

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