Steve Bowyer from Opportunity Peterborough talks about Amazon’s plans to recruit part-time and temporary staff in May ready for the Christmas rush. This interview was broadcast at 07:35 on Friday 14th May 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Interviewer is Paul Stainton.
STAINTON: It’s Friday and it’s been a great week for jobs in Peterborough. Earlier we told you that RSA was creating more than two hundred jobs at its site at Lynch Wood. Now on-line retailer Amazon has confirmed it will create hundreds of jobs at its warehouse near Farcet. Let’s speak to Steve Bowyer from Opportunity Peterborough. Morning.
BOWYER: Good morning Paul. How are you?
STAINTON: I’m fine. You had a bit of criticism earlier this week from the local MP, and others. But this is sand in their face, isn’t it?
BOWYER: Well I wouldn’t say slap in the face, it’s good news for the city, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter in a sense who drives the agenda in the city as long as the city is being driven, and Opportunity Peterborough are right behind delivering the economic development for the city. So you know let’s all work together to drive this city forward. It’s a great city, and if we can attract more jobs in, and do away with those criticisms from your caller who said the city was a pits, you know. Let’s all work together to do that, whether it’s the MPs, local politicians, Opportunity Peterborough or any of our regional partners.
STAINTON: Yes I mean you can understand people’s frustrations. It’s been going on a long time. But I mean you know things like this will change the perception. Do we know how many jobs are coming at Amazon?
BOWYER: We’re just confirming that with Amazon, because obviously there’s some numbers quoted in the Evening Telegraph, and what we want to get from Amazon is whether that’s you know full-time equivalence, or whether it’s you know part-time roles and that so we’re getting that information from Amazon. Because it’s quite important, you’re absolutely right. If we can tell other companies, look, Amazon have opened, they’re building more jobs here, RSA are growing more jobs here etcetera, that actually breeds confidence. So other companies will think, hang on, something is going right in Peterborough and we want to get onto that bandwagon. So we need to make sure we got the intelligence when we go out to the companies that we attract them to the city and we can demonstrate that you know there’s a well-trodden path to our city, why not join those people as well.
STAINTON: Yes. Amazon is saying “.. we expect to create hundreds of jobs over the coming months..” we spoke to them yesterday ” .. as we move towards the busy Christmas period.” Are these just seasonal? Are they just Christmas jobs?
BOWYER: I mean there is that though there is that thought that perhaps they are. But then you know they’re jobs. You know let’s not knock them they’re jobs. And we need to check what the nature of the jobs is, the scale of the jobs, the scale of the job numbers. But the fact is they are coming to Peterborough, they are providing work for Peterborough people, and it is as I say another good news story to put out there. And it is raising the confidence, and it is, you know, you were saying about raising perceptioons Peterborough, you know, we are changing perceptions. We’ve had the fantastic campaign in airports and shopping centres which did create quite a lot of investment interest in the city. And we’re building on that as well. So ..
STAINTON: So we have been advertising our wares elsewhere?
BOWYER: Absolutely Paul. Yeah, yeah. Definitely. Campaigns are going out there and there’s going to be some more campaigns going shortly as well. Tim Martin our marketing and comms. person, Head of Comms, is taking those campaigns out, and we’ve had quite a strong interest from national companies, international companies, enquiries from America, those sorts of things. So you know we need to build on those, and whenever people come to the city they actually say, wow, we didn’t realise how great it was. And that’s what we’re getting across. And that’s why those campaigns are great, because we need to really push the message, we need to sell Peterborough, and we need to show that actually the perceptions that you might have had before are wrong, now come and have a look and we’ll show you how even better it is than the campaigns can demonstrate.
STAINTON; Yeah. We spoke to John Bridge earlier this week, and he alluded to the fact that there will be more jobs coming to Peterborough. Is that the grand vision for this next year now, to attract more companies? Do we have more coming in the pipeline?
BOWYER: Well there’s two things we musn’t forget. It’s not just about attracting new companies to the city, it’s actually supporting the companies we’ve got here ensuring they can grow. You know we .. there’s no point in getting new and losing some from local. So it’s two-prong strategy and approach. We support the companies that are here, whatever help they need to grow, whether it’s advice, whether it’s .. (?) .. financial support, whether it’s help on planning applications, all of those things. You know Opportunity Peterborough and our partners in the city are here to help the existing businesses here. And there’s some major work going on behind the scenes in that, and a lot of those companies are feeling the benefits of that. But it is about attracting new investment as well, and that’s where those campaigns are so important. And you’re absolutely right. John Bridge who’s our Chairman at Opportunity Peterborough, you know, is aware of that positive work, and I read his article in the Evening Telegraph for example, and yes, I know the work that’s going on, and he recognises that, so we just need to keep pushing that, and yes .. (coughs) excuse me my voice is going a little bit. A bit Barry White. ..that we will create a city. That is a priority going forward for Opportunity Peterborough. The economic development means supporting our existing businesses and getting new businesses in.
STAINTON: Good stuff Steve. And how much involvement do you have with Cathedral Square at the moment? Any at all?
BOWYER: Behind the scenes I sit on the project board effectively Paul now. It’s being driven by the City Council’s project director, and I’m a sort of adviser to that and nothing more at the moment.
STAINTON: We’ve been promised it’s going to be finished by June the first. Are we hopeful?
BOWYER: Well it’s looking good, isn’t it?
BOWYER: I think it looks superb out there. I went out there again yesterday, and can see the church is opening up, which is fantastic.
STAINTON: Just worried about that bit in front of MacDonalds. It doesn’t look like that might be finished in two weeks.
BOWYER: I think that there will be some areas will will still need some work on. I mean we’ve spoken in the past Paul haven’t we about the issues over utilities and services and electricity and all the rest of it. And it is always a nightmare. And what the city has done, and I think a really brave and the absolute right decision to address the electrics in the city was to put it all underground, the transformers and substations. That’s a big task. they deserve credit not criticism, making that decision.
STAINTON: I might have to fine Marco Cereste if it’s not completely finished for June the first, but I’ll take that up with him.
BOWYER: I don’t think that’s the dateline you’ve been given Paul, to be honest, so ..
STAINTON: Oh I was. I was. I was on this show. June. It’ll all be finished. Cathedral Square for June. That’s what was promised.
BOWYER: Only the Cathedral Square element which is the fountains, the fountains area, yeah.
BOWYER; Yeah that’s OK. You’ve just got to be careful what you tell people.
STAINTON: Not the other side. Not the other side. Yes yes. I’ll let you off with that.
BOWYER: Make sure you get the right message across that’s all Paul.
STAINTON: We do.
BOWYER: I know you do.
STAINTON: Steve Bowyer from Opportunity Peterborough.