Yorkshire city tops insolvency league

A YORKSHIRE city has topped a nationwide survey for the highest numbers of businesses going bust for the second year in a row while also featuring in the top three locations for personal insolvencies.

Hull fared worst for businesses failing, 51 people being declared insolvent for every 10,000 adults in the city.

Three others in the top five towns and cities that suffered from the most individual bankruptcies and people taking out individual voluntary arrangements or debt relief orders last year were also port towns or holiday resorts.

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Blackpool had 49 insolvencies per 10,000 people, while Plymouth and Eastbourne had 46 and 44 insolvencies per 10,000 people respectively.

Accountants Wilkins Kennedy, which analysed data from the insolvency service, said Plymouth, Blackpool and Hull had also topped the list for personal insolvencies in 2008, the figures representing a new wave of residents unable to keep up with their debts.

It said many coastal towns had never fully recovered from their heyday, when the shipbuilding and commercial fishing industries were thriving.

The group said very few such towns had managed to replace these industries, while those that depended on tourism struggled to provide a compelling alternative to cheap overseas packages.

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At the same time, a high proportion of residents in coastal towns are employed on a part-time or seasonal basis, meaning their earnings are more erratic than for people in full-time employment.

Partner Keith Stevens at Wilkins Kennedy, said: "You can look at the coastal economy through rose tinted glasses and imagine it is all like Rock, Padstow and Salcombe Bay – but it's not.

"Staycations have not bailed out the coastal economy. It is a worry that some of the coastal towns seem to have become production lines for personal bankruptcy.

"Even the banking crisis that might have made coastal towns look good compared to those areas that are more dependent on financial services centres like London, Manchester and Leeds hasn't."

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The Labour Group leader on Hull Council, Steve Brady, warned the analysis could undermine efforts to boost the city's economy.

He said: "The situation is pretty precarious but I am sick and tired of statistics pulling Hull down – it is time the people who did them started to come and have a look at a true picture of the area. "It is a good place to invest.

"Unfortunately people who do want to invest are put off by the bad image these people create."

There are contrasting views about how struggling economies like that of Hull should be addressed.

According to the survey, Ipswich had the fifth highest level of personal insolvencies during 2009, followed by St Helens and Gloucester. Sunderland, Milton Keynes and Blackburn completed the top 10.