Marco Cereste outlines progess made in 2009 and his outlook for 2010 in the city. Broadcast at 08:10 on January 4th 2010 in Paul Stainton’s Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
PS: Peterborough City Council Leader Marco Cereste has admitted his biggest challenge this year will be to steer Peterborough out of the recession. The Leader also wants to ensure the city is in the best possible position to capitalise on the economic recovery whenever it takes place. And as we heard earlier this morning that might not be this year. Councillor Cereste is with us this morning. Good morning Marco.
MC: Good morning Paul. Happy New Year to you.
PS: Same to you. Same to you. Hopefully nobody asked you about Shaking Stevens over the Christmas.
MC: No they didn’t. (chuckles)
PS: (giggles) My wife, I’m sure she’s smelling some serious salt. (icw previous item.) But I mean you know this promises to be a very very challenging year in lots of different ways for Peterborough, doesn’t it?
MC: Yeah it does. But I mean I still believe that Peterborough is well placed to meet the challenge. I have every confidence in the city, I really do I mean I think Peterborough is a fabulous place. It’s strategically placed within the UK, and it’s got lots and lots of things going for it that other cities don’t. And our job as politicians and your job as a radio presenter and the people of this city is to make sure that we capitalise on the assets that we really do have.
PS: And what are our aims for 2010 as a city? What have we got to try to do?
MC: Well for me as you know there’s been a lot of publicity about the purchase of the football ground. We want to complete that purchase. We want to complete the Bridge Street, which will mean finding hopefully finally having a tenant for the Woolworths building, and making sure that the last letting, there’s one shop left, is let. And also opening the Women’s Innovation Centre Enterprise Centre, and that, hopefully that’ll all happen within by the time this financial year finishes at the end of March. And the Council will be able to close with a good financial year. We’ve put already things in place to start the South Bank redevelopment scheme, so within the next six months we should be in a position to announce how it’s going to work, and what will happen. I can tell you now on the radio that within a couple of years you’ll see work going on down there. Because you know I’m fed up of it just being a derelict site really, and it’s time we got on with it.
PS: Yeah we’ve written down the date you said by the way.
PS: Oh yeah yeah.
MC: You call me back and you hold me to account. I’m sure you will. (laughs)
PS: Of course I would. Can you help in any way as a council, whether it’s you, or though Opportunity Peterborough, can you help kick start the city’s economy, can we do anything until the country recovers? Is there anything we can do?
MC: Well there are certain sectors that are still operational. It’s not every business not every sector economically is doing badly. So the job of the Council really through our new investment team at Opportunity Peterborough and through the new relationship management teams that we put in place, is to attract businesses and people into the city that still have .. businesses that are doing well, and are looking to expand, and looking somewhere new to go, for when the economy turns round. Now we can do that and then by doing that we can really begin to put Peterborough on the map, and earlier than one would normally expect. And that’s what we will be ..that’s what we will be trying to do.
PS: Do we have any potential new businesses been attracted to Peterborough? Hmm?
MC: Yeah we do actually? We’ve got .. believe it or not we’ve got two Chinese delegations coming from two different regions in China. And remember a region in China is bigger than the whole of the United Kingdom. They’re bringing investors, they’re bringing people with them who want to come and invest. I mean there’s even a possibility of four hundred new jobs with one of them. So you know we are doing our work, and I’m happy to come back to you and talk to you about it as things begin to become positive and they get firmed up. But we are working very very hard to try and put this city on the world map. Because the one thing this city has don’t forget it’s got its badge. It wants to be the environment capital. And you’d be surprised how much pull the fact that we’ve got nearly four hundred environment businesses in this city has. Even in the entire world economy. These two Chinese regions they want to come here because they’re interested in our environmental services.
PS: It’s quite surprising as well because you hear every day that things are cheaper to make, and cheaper to produce in China.
MC: Yeah but don’t forget we have the technology. I know it’s a ridiculous face to use, phrase to use, but we have the technology. we have the advanced technology that the Chinese want. And that’s why they want to come and work with us.
PS: In this environment though, is it possible to spend the money required to be the city’s the UK’s environment capital?
MC: Well we can do what we can do. I mean I can tell you now that we’re negotiating now with a local organisation in the city to go over and have a look at ten thousand to go through ten thousand houses, to find the money to bring them up to standard, and investment in the city of anything up to five or six million pounds, which is coming from elsewhere. Our job is not necessarily to find city money. You’ve probably noticed I’ve been pretty succesful at this, our job is to find money from other places, that we can spend in the city. And that’s the secret at the moment, because we can’t go putting people’s rates up, we don’t have spare cash laying around. So we have to use what we’ve got wisely. And we have to be able to use our intelligence and bring money in from outside to be spent in our city.
PS: Because there’s less money, isn’t there. And that’s a fact. And we can expect more job cuts perhaps, in the New Year as well?
MC: I hope not. I hope not. No I mean you know just let’s it’s not something that we that we want to do. But you know, if it happens it happens. But it won’t be many if there are anyway.
PS: Yeah. And just on the subject of the Posh ground, I mean that needs to be approved by the valuer, doesn’t it? When’s that likely to happen do you know?
MC: Well I would hope to be able to make an announcement within the next ten days.
PS: Good stuff. And the Woolworths building, the old chestnut, it’s been rumbling on and on, when do you expect that to be finalised?
MC: Well honestly I was hoping it was all going to be finalised before Christmas, and for all I know it might have been finalised during the Christmas period. I’ve got a meeting this morning with what we call the Leader’s Meeting at the Council. We did get a briefing on everything that’s gone on over the last few days, and I’ll get an update this morning. I suspect that had it been finalised during the Christmas period someone would have phoned me.
PS: Yeah we would have phoned you.
PS: Marco, let’s look forward to a positive and inspiring New Year for Peterborough.
MC: Yep yep yep. I think the city’s got lots of things to offer. Let’s just make sure that we can make it a successful city and a successful year for everybody. And a Happy New Year to all of your readers all of your listeners. Sorry.
PS: Well they read as well.
MC: Readers as well. Facebook and all the rest of it.
PS: Good stuff. Council Leader Marco Cereste.