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31 December 2003

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'Can do' city council to help inward investment

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A new ‘can do’ attitude is becoming established at Peterborough City Council, its chief executive has told city business leaders.

Speaking at a meeting organised by Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA), Gillian Beasley outlined changes in both the structure and the culture at the city council aimed at engaging more directly with the local business community.

Among the initiatives she described are a re-organisation of the council’s planning department, talks with business leaders about public transport and widespread consultation about plans for redevelopment of the city centre.

“We have restructured the planning department to create a major projects team which can respond to investors seeking to develop major new facilities in the city," she said. "We want to convey the message that we welcome them here and that we can help."

On public transport, Mrs Beasley revealed that she is having meetings with representatives of city-centre businesses to talk about problems with car parking and public transport, aimed at making it easier for staff to travel to work and home again at the end of the day without bringing more cars into the city.

She also said that the council is about to launch a major consultation exercise – aimed at the general public as well as businesses – as part of the development of a master plan for redevelopment of the city centre. That plan, she promised, would be about "delivery as well as planning".

"It will not be a document which gathers dust on the shelf," she said. "It will be used to actively manage the regeneration of our city centre which is at risk of being overtaken by competitors."

All of this, Mrs Beasley said, will contribute to Peterborough City Council's plan to move from being a council which is judged as a 'fair' performer by central government to one which is judged as being 'good'. This change in status would give the council more freedom to develop new initiatives.

A key part of that process of change, she said, will be to respond to the needs and concerns of the business community – and to be seen to be responding.

Don Lawson, principal of Peterborough Regional College, also told the GPIA meeting about change and the need to respond to the needs of businesses. He gave the audience an outline of the way in which the college is meeting the requirements of students and employers by – for example – providing training 'on site' at places of work rather than on college premises.

Like Mrs Beasley, Mr Lawson has only recently taken up his new post. He told the meeting: "The potential in Peterborough is enormous."

GPIA chief executive Gloria Milne said: "Working in partnership with the city council on issues such as planning - and with the college on training and workforce development - allows GPIA to provide an integrated package of support for inward investors who may be creating substantial numbers of jobs in Peterborough.

"It all helps to make Peterborough more attractive – and that is of vital importance where many different towns and cities are competing for the same investment."

January 2003




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