Back from Brussels, Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council, welcomes new developments in the Station Quarter area of Peterborough and goes on to celebrate his successes so far.
Andy Burrows Drivetime Radio Cambridgeshire 17:10 Wednesday 6th October 2010
AB: Let’s speak to the Leader of Peterborough City Council, Marco Cereste. Good afternoon to you.
MC: Hi. How are you doing?
AB: I’m very well, thank you very much. I’d have thought you’d be cock-a-hoop about this.
MC: Absolutely. I’m absolutely delighted that people want to come and invest and they want to share our vision and can understand that we have a vision for the city. Magic! Great!
AB: What vision are you sharing with them? When you sit down across a table from an international company like this, and you know it’s got money in its back pocket ..
AB: .. what do you tell them?
MC: Well we tell them that they’re welcome in Peterborough. We tell them that along the Station Quarter we want to see certain types of development. We tell them that we want to redevelop the city centre, so that it all is integrated, and it all works with each other. Because the last thing that you or I or anybody in this city would want to see is a number of discrete developments that don’t relate to each other. And we tell them that we will bend over backwards to help their development come to fruition, as long as it fits with what we want in the city.
AB: Yes that’s quite interesting.
MC: We want new growth. We want more development. And we need jobs. You know, we need real jobs is what the game is about at the moment. It’s not a game, it’s an expression that I use. But it’s about people, it’s about jobs. the more jobs we can attract into the city, the better it’s going to be for the rest of us.
AB: Right. These are difficult times, aren’t they?
AB: Commercial operators are .. they’re not coming forward as quickly as perhaps you would like. There are shops down Bridge Street, and other parts of Peterborough, which are lying empty. Is this a bit of a gamble? Are you taking the gamble, or are ING taking the gamble for how the economy could look in two years time? Twenty twelve. That’s when they want to open it.
MC: Listen. Walking across the street is a gamble. And as Leader of this city, I have to, I have to do everything I possibly can to make sure that this city is the sort of place where people want to live, and can come and shop, and can grow their children, bring their children up. And so actually I will do anything that I need to do to attract more business, more jobs, more investment, and more growth to this city. Because that’s really the only way that we are going to begin to mitigate some of the difficulties that a Labour government has left us in.
AB: OK. But I think the point is though, councillor, what you don’t want to end up with is an enormous white elephant, which is a fantastic structure that’s built next to the station that people can see as they come in, but then no-one in it.
MC: Well obviously it’s very difficult. I can’t get into the detail, as you very well know, the planning application could very well end up being Full Council, and I can’t comment on their specific detail or their planning application. What I can say to you is that we do have a vision to completely redevelop and regenerise (sic) that entire area of the city. Regenerate, that entire area of that city. Which includes the new shopping centre that we want to see built etcetera. Now whatever it is that ING want to build, obviously you’ve picked the .. you’ve hit the nail on the head. It has to fit with our view of the city, with what else needs to be developed in the city. Three weeks ago I had a representative of a very, very wealthy consortium, sitting in my office, in the City Council, wants to come and spend far more than ING, you know, ten times more than ING, in our city, to build us a new shopping centre. My answer to them was exactly what you’re saying to me. We have to have something that fits, that fits together with all the vision, it all works together. Because what we don’t want is a white elephant in the middle of the city. So my answer is the same to everybody. We will work with every one of these investors, and every one of these developers, to make sure that what they want to do fits with the vision, and the needs, of our city.
MC: We’ve got to go back to being one of the places that everybody wants to go to.
AB: Absolutely. I’m sure a lot of people have been attracted to Peterborough over the years for the shopping if nothing else. But it begs another question really as well. OK, so we’ll have a whole host of shops next to the station. You’re redeveloping the city centre as well. there are various other parts of Peterborough being redeveloped. But are there other kinds of jobs though? When my kids leave school, will they be going for other jobs apart from working in a shop? There’s nothing wrong with working in a shop but you know the point I’m making.
MC: Oh you’re absolutely right.
AB: You have to create a mixed economy.
MC: You are absolutely right. And what have I said to you? You must have heard me say it a million times. We’ve got to lift the aspiration and achievement of our children. For me, our children are the one number one priority. Now we’ve got to now deliver the very very best quality education that we can, so that when your kids grow up, they are armed with the tools that they need to get the very best jobs that are available. At the same time as doing that, we as an authority, me as Leader, have got to make sure that we get the companies who come in to this city who want to invest, and could create the jobs for our children to work in. And, you know, yesterday I was in Brussels. And I wasn’t in Brussels on a junket. Yesterday morning I met the American Ambassador, on the Peterborough stand. I met the Chairman of the Commission of the Regions. I met the Chairman of the International Mayors Association. And they were all really really really impressed with what we’re doing in Peterborough, particularly in the environmental front. And you know that. It’s a matter of fact, it’s a matter of fact that we’ve attracted three thousand eight hundred new jobs into the city, this year. Now, they won’t be available tomorrow. They’ve got to build them all out, and they’ll come on stream over the next eighteen months. That’s three thousand eight hundred new jobs.
AB: He’s on a roll. (LAUGHTER) Listen, thank you very much. It’s always a pleasure to speak to you, but David Cameron didn’t get this long at the Tory Party Conference, and you’re certainly not getting any more than that. Thank you very much. Councillor Marco Cereste, that was. He’s nothing if not enthusiastic. We will see, won’t we, what’s happened to that redevelopment in Peterborough. Because we’ve been talking about redeveloping that particular part of Peterborough for the last twenty years. So forgive people if they’re a little sceptical, until they see the cranes nearby.