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20:44 on Monday
30 December 2002

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Agency chief makes rallying call to secure economic growth



A rallying call for public and private sector organisations in Greater Peterborough to continue working in partnership to achieve a prosperous future despite the global economic slow-down was issued to local business leaders last night (Wednesday 7 November).

Making an annual review presentation, Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA) chief executive Gloria Milne said that the terrorist atrocities in the USA and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan had undermined business confidence and left a vacuum in relocation and inward investment enquiries.

However, she said it was essential to capitalise on other opportunities that would contribute to Greater Peterborough’s economic strength. Among these were proposals to develop an innovation centre that promised to be a catalyst that would encourage the creation and growth of young knowledge-based businesses.

She also believes it is important to expand the range of subjects and numbers of students studying for higher education qualifications at the Loughborough University centre in Peterborough. She quoted the experience of Lincoln to demonstrate how the presence of a university improves business performance and contributes financial and other benefits to local economies.

Mrs Milne welcomed city council proposals to create an ‘urban regeneration company’ that would help secure progress on several projects that were important for the future of Peterborough. These include the implementation of the North Westgate retail and leisure proposals, the regeneration of the South Bank of the River Nene and the improvement of the railway station ‘gateway’ area.

She also said that plans to move the district hospital facilities from Thorpe Road to the Edith Cavell hospital site at Bretton would allow further large-scale development close to the city centre in the future.

Peterborough city council chief executive Paul Martin also delivered an up-beat assessment of Peterborough’s future prospects. “The city has an appetite for growth and development,” he said. Peterborough enjoys several unique advantages, he said, including the fastest travel-to-work times in the country, the lowest house prices within a one-hour journey of London, and the largest private sector new town development in Europe.

The council had secured £7 million of European Union ‘Urban II’ funding that will be used for three priority tasks - the establishment of an innovation centre, a family support strategy to tackle social problems caused by dysfunctional families and to help improve community safety and reduce crime.

Mr Martin also said the council was prepared to create partnerships with the private sectors and non-profit organisations to achieve beneficial results, such as by selling shopping centres at Bretton and Orton and transferring its housing stock to housing associations.

He summarised the past year as ‘busy and fruitful’ and the future as offering ‘enormous challenges and great opportunities’.

Additional reasons for taking a positive view of Peterborough’s economic prospects were provided by Jonathan Selwyn, executive director of Peterborough-based UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (UK CEED). He said the city was already home to a significant ‘cluster’ of public sector organisations and leading companies that had expertise in environmental technologies.

He said this ‘cluster’ provided the basis for making Peterborough a world centre for sustainable technologies and for benefiting from a UK market that was predicted to grow from $13 billion to $23 billion over the next decade.

November 2001

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