Rowen Squibb on Peterborough and the Portas Report

CHRIS MANN: What do you feel should be done would help particularly bring businesses and shoppers to Peterborough:
ROWEN SQUIBB: Well, going back to the market point, it would be sensible now I think for Peterborough Market to move out of what is our Laxton Square business district, and move on to what we know in Peterborough as the North Westgate site. Because that site’s been derelict for a couple of decades coming into now. So we have this opportunity to move the market into an area that’s got better public transport links. And individual retailers, there are not enough individual businesses in Peterborough city centre. Thankfully we have our wonderful cathedral, so we have other pulls to attract people into historic Peterborough. But we really need to have an individual retail shopping offer. And I think all parties in Peterborough must work proactively to take the initiative and move quickly to remodel the city centre for the modern shopper, or the modern city centre visitor.
CHRIS MANN: But you’ll know that you go around the country, and almost every shopping centre is the same retailers. There is very little difference, is there not? Yes, some towns have a unique presence, but these days they’re all squeezed out, aren’t they, by all the presures, all the business pressures?
ROWEN SQUIBB: Yes, it’s actually criminal, isn’t it? You have this Template UK set up going on. It’s difficult for the building owners, because of course they get a better covenant from a big retail chain, but you have hundreds of people that would love to create, thousands of people across the country that would love to set up their own bakery, or their own individual store, and it’s hard for them to compete. And I think now is the time to really incentivise those people, who maybe haven’t got work at the moment, and are looking for new opportunities, to say, look, revive our retail stores. And open up your bakery, or your business, or your independent shop, and allow people to shop locally. It really is that time. And I think everyone is looking for that to happen. And I think that’s why Mary’s report’s been welcomed today.

17:45 Tuesday 13th December 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire