Manchester City Council

Where in the World

Last week Manchester Airport Group announced that DHL had signed up as the first tenant in Airport City, the first of what I expect to be many such announcements. The key to this of course is international trade. The Greater Manchester Strategy (GMS) has identified internationalisation, increased trade with other countries, and increased investment from them, as a key priority. The evidence that underpins the GMS shows that companies that trade internationally are in general more productive and more profitable than those that don't, and that GM is underperforming in this area. We can't increase international trade for Manchester unless we promote the city internationally and build relationships with other places. We can't do that everywhere so we have to focus and one of the places we are focussing on is China. That's why last week the Lord Mayor was in our friendship city Wuhan, and Deputy Leader Bernard Priest was in Beijing.

It's actually quite rare for elected members to be involved in visits like these but sometimes it's appropriate. A few weeks ago I spent a day and a half in Beijing (and going to China for a night is hardly a junket) for the launch of the Manchester-China Forum and the announcement that Beijing Construction and Engineering Group were to be a joint venture partner in the development of Airport City. Couldn't we have just issued a press release? Well we could but that would have done nothing to help build the so important relationships necessary to make deals like this work. It's also extremely unlikely that a press release would have generated the 433 UK and 462 China pieces of coverage that actually came out of the launch and announcement with an advertising equivalent value of £8.5m and an audience of 4.7billion people.

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There are 6 responses to “Where in the World”

  1. Tony Says:

    Good news, and worthwhile going.

    Given the proximity of the planned HS2 station at the airport, it makes sense to draw on Chinese knowledge and skills in the construction of high speed railways. In particular, I think there should be a policy ambition for HS2 to be the greenest HS rail construction project ever. Transport infrastructure construction does not have strong green credentials, especially compared to constructing buildings, unfortunately. This could change, with help. Maybe a HS rail academy with Chinese input? A HSR centre of excellence within the new Airport City? A starter could be for all aggregate to be recycled demolition waste.

  2. Mark Burton Says:

    It is difficult to know where to start with this (deliberately provocative?) post. I don't for a moment doubt the commitment to improving the well-being and prosperity of Manchester and its people, but this is the wrong path. The first problem is that the GMS is a fundamentally flawed strategy on its own terms. It seeks to position Manchester in an international 'beauty contest' for investment, trying to win a game of global competition that it can't (and indeed shouldn't since do we really have the ethic of being winners in a zero sum game – we should be more internationalist than that and aim for a world without losers). The evidence that Manchester can't win is clear enough – the region is slipping ever further behind London and the South East – even if that slippage is less than for even less favoured regions like Wales and the North East. The airport city / HS2 nexus is not going to change this but risks supporting the continuation of that parasitic service economy that has not significantly trickled down to the city's most deprived populations and neighbourhoods. Moreover the implied dependence on China is itself dubious since that economy is not guaranteed to continue its spectacular growth, based as it is largely on collusion with debt-fueled consumption in the USA.
    To be fair, it is not easy to imagine a viable alternative, and to do this in a way that approaches the scale of change needed (rather than remaining marginal development in the alternative, green and social enterprise sectors) , but that is the serious conceptual and practical work we need to do in Manchester, focusing on the day to day economy that's left after decades of neoliberal de-industrialisation, growing those sustainable (ecologically, socially and economically) sectors and reducing the parasitic (and ecologically dangerous) sectors. That would include properly planned investment in rail infrastructure, by the way. That's the project Steady State Manchester embarked on last year - but there is a long way to go yet.
    Other commentators will no doubt expand on the obvious fact that the Faustian pact with aviation will do nothing to meet Manchester's challenging carbon emissions reduction targets, and will indeed make the hill to be climbed far steeper.
    In sum, the airport city is, on social, economic and ecological grounds, the wrong way to develop our economy and we would expect better from a leadership that took social justice and climate risks seriously.

  3. Marc Hudson Says:

    Oddly, my original comment, posted before at least one of these two below, has not gone up. I shall "submit" again. Ideally one will be posted, not both.
    Where in the world can you find a rhetoric-reality gap to beat all contenders, when it comes to climate change? In Manchester, that’s where. We have a wonderful Climate Change Action Plan, written by stakeholders (the process for that inspired by/borrowed from a certain Call to Real Action). There were supposed to be one thousand endorsers. In the end it got 220ish. There were supposed to be a thousand implementation plans. There were two. And the council’s one so hopeless that they had to play fast and loose with the truth to claim a 7% reduction last year, when in fact their own emissions went UP. Meanwhile, the obsession with China grows. In thirty years time, our children will look back in horror and disbelief at the abrogation of leadership.
    Really really staggering.

  4. Nemeth Says:

    All these "tree-huggers" passing judgement need a sense of perspective - Manchester is and will continue to be London b!tch for want of a better phrase in spite of the new HS2 not because of it. HS2 may heighten Manchester's deep-seated dependence on the capital but it is more likely to improve mobility (in all senses of the word) and encourage those who want to work in London but not live in a overcrowded/polluted city to live in and around the Manchester conurbation and thus fuel its economy. Then again if the HS2 is as poorly planned as the Metrolink which is unreliable, mind-numbingly slow & a complete rip-off then they may as well just build the world's largest bridge!

  5. Dave Bishop Says:

    We not only have a Climate Change Action Plan but also a Biodiversity Action Plan. Both seem to consist of empty 'paper promises'. Metrolink, in spite of equally empty promises not to, has destroyed vast swathes of our local biodiversity (incidentally, I think that Metrolink is, otherwise, an excellent system - but that's for another debate) but this will pale into insignificance compared to the airport project; and all to encourage trade with a country with a less than enviable environmental record! And don't get me started on the politicians' vast 'vanity train-set', HS2 and the havoc that that will wreak on our countryside! Sadly, I have to conclude that there is no 'progress' any more - only environmental destruction on a more and more grandiose scale.

  6. Anon Says:

    If only the city had concentrated more on developing relationships with institutions based just down the road we might not have seen 2000 high value research jobs at AstraZeneca disappear down south. These are just the sort of occupies they are trying to attract to Aiport City and the numerous empty plots dotted around the city centre, presumably.



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