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26 February 2005

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City needs a vision for the future


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Peterborough needs a clear vision of its future if it is to succeed in a rapidly changing world, city business people were told at a meeting hosted by Greater Peterborough Investment Agency.

Dr John Bridge, who is preparing Peterborough's bid for an urban regeneration company to manage development of the city centre, told the meeting:

"The world is changing in a variety of ways and Peterborough must respond to these changes if it is to prosper.

"The European Union is admitting ten new members with a combined population of 75 million people. EU enlargement means our business opportunities will be that much greater but the competition will also be that much greater.

"Cities in the new member countries, similar in size to Peterborough, are straining at the leash. They have a clear determination to be successful cities of the future.

"Globalisation means that markets and technologies are internationally transferable. Products and services become obsolete ever more quickly. Costs are being driven down by international competition from low-wage economies.

"Peterborough will suffer if it does not understand the market in which it is operating."

Dr Bridge said that changes in world trade mean we will not in future be able to compete in some industries in which we are now competing successfully. He warned that, because Peterborough's real competitive advantage lies in its people, we must do more to improve skills and training in the local workforce.

An urban regeneration company (URC) would help create a city centre which is "fit for purpose" not just now but well into the future, said Dr Bridge. However, he said, the development of Peterborough needs to be about more than new buildings in the city centre.

"Peterborough is much wider than the city centre. We need to ensure that the improvements reach people throughout the area.

"It is not just about providing facilities but about providing vision. The one thing that will make Peterborough successful in the future will be that we believe it is going to be successful.

"None of us can be spectators in this development process. We all need to be players.

"We do not want Peterborough to be average or ordinary. We want it to be much better than that. If we are to achieve these ambitions, we need commitment, vision and awareness of what is going on in the world around us."

May 2004

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