Weeping and Wailing as Green Bank Long Shot Kicks the Bucket

07:21 Friday 9th March 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The Government announced yesterday where the UK’s Green Investment Bank will be based. You may remember we’ve been bidding for it, we’ve been expecting it, hoping for it, looking for it. Well we didn’t get it. We were snubbed. It’s gone to Edinburgh. Edinburgh of all places. What was Vince Cable playing at? (TAPE)
VINCE CABLE: Edinburgh has a very good financial centre. A lot’s happening in the green industry front. London is a centre for specialist banking. We want to tap into both of them. And we’ve had a competition which showed that those two were the two cities that came out on top. But this is a big step forward. By the end of this year the Green Investment Bank will be getting out good projects. So we’re well on the way to making Britain a world leader in green investment.” (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well, disappointing for Peterborough. Opportunity Peterborough disappointed too. They put the bid together for the city. Neil Darwin, Director of Economic Development is here with a little frown on your face this morning.
NEIL DARWIN: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: See if we can turn that frown upside down before the end of the interview. Edinburgh. Shocked?
NEIL DARWIN: Very surprised actually. As you know, as you’ve just said, we’ve had a competition nationally to see where the Bank will go, and personally, from my own perspective, the last place I thought they’d put it is Scotland.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Particularly because we don’t know whether the Scots are going to get independence. And if we do, where does that leave the Green Bank?
NEIL DARWIN: Well from things I’ve been reading, possibly with the need to set up a second Green Investment Bank in England.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. OK. (LAUGHS) We didn’t even finish second though, did we?
NEIL DARWIN: We came 4th, which of 32 we feel is a good sign. The context of this is quite interesting. Everyone was scored out of 200 marks, a bit like a school exam. We scored 75 and came 4th. London scored 200, which had it been marked before Christmas, it probably would have scored 200. And if it had been marked a year ago, it would have probably scored 200. So we’re not entirely sure how we could have ever have beaten it, to be honest.
NAIL DARWIN: The other thing we need to think in terms of context, one of the Government’s requirements was that the Bank’s location would have an impact on the city that was selected to be located in. I’m not entirely sure how Edinburgh and London will benefit visibly from this particular decision. Whereas it would have clearly had a massive impact, a potentially massive impact, on Peterborough.
PAUL STAINTON: What would we have gained from a Green Bank? What would it have done for Peterborough?
NEIL DARWIN: Quite simply Paul, it would have been more about status. It would have brought 75 jobs to start with, but again we’ve picked up it would have increased to about 150. So again, a good number of jobs.
NEIL DARWIN: It would have given us a huge amount of kudos, because most green industry operators would have had to engage with the Bank. It would have brought them to this city, and quite simply it would have given us a greater profile.
PAUL STAINTON: Well they may have even moved here maybe.
NEIL DARWIN: Potentially. That’s the knock on effect.
NEIL DARWIN: It’s worth saying, again in the analysis, there are only two cities that came out with top marks for the green economy. We were one. London was the other.
PAUL STAINTON: Well that is a pat on the back, isn’t it?
NEIL DARWIN: But we still didn’t get the Bank. So ..
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) Did we use a lot of money bidding for this? Did it cost us a lot of money? Was it a waste?
NEIL DARWIN: It didn’t cost us a lot of money. It cost us a little bit of staff time putting it all together. Unlike most of the other cities we had a team of about three, four of us, putting it all together, supported I must say fantastically by our local MPs, public and private sector. But in terms of the documentation, stuff like that, it didn’t cost us anything.
PAUL STAINTON: No. So it was worth a punt then, wasn’t it really?
NEIL DARWIN: It was always worth a punt. Absolutely right. And if we don’t .. and part of this as well is we are now up in lights with Government. We know there are other things due to come out. They may not fit as well as a Green Investment Bank. But again I’m sure we can work with our partners, local MPs, to make sure that anything else does come to Peterborough.
And we’re aware of one or two opportunities later in the year.
PAUL STAINTON: Good stuff. Anything coming that you need to tell us about while you’re here? I always ask. So, any big surprises? Any big shops coming? Anything?
NEIL DARWIN: Potentially there’s one or two at the moment. We had a very strong whisper yesterday that someone’s very keen. And again we might be able to sort something else out on the square.
PAUL STAINTON: Did you hear my vision, earlier in the week?
PAUL STAINTON: And did you like it? Getting rid of ASDA. Putting a cinema in there. All Bar One in Shoezone. Knock into Greggs. Open the Town Hall at nighttime for theatre productions, and get the councillors out.
NEIL DARWIN: There’s nothing wrong with your vision Paul at all.
NEIL DARWIN: The issue is deliverability, which is about money at the end of the day. But actually, in terms of what you’re saying, in that sense you’ve got a clear idea of what the city needs. So yes, that does ring bells.
PAUL STAINTON: “A clear idea of what the city needs” Gordon Bennett. There’s a thing. Neil, thank you for coming in this morning.