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’
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
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
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.