I was having a chat with a well-respected individual in the city about the possibility of developing the Spode site. He was bemoaning the apparent deafness of the City Council to alternative suggestions for the Spode site.
I must admit that I have some sympathy with his position my own experience over the years with local authorities and any ideas that I have produced with regard to regeneration of North Staffs. I have put forward ideas of the green economy, tourism and LETS schemes in the area to receive no response. I know that some of the ideas that I have put forward are good ideas, as they seem to work elsewhere. What seems to work well in places such as Pittsburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield , for instance, should equally work well in North Staffordshire in my opinion. But I will write my ideas and even see officers of the City Council and the Chamber of Trade and for there to be no response. In one case I was so annoyed by the rudeness shown that I complained about an officer from the Chamber of Commerce.
This is an important question how can concerned citizens of the area influence policy if the officers of the authority are dismissive?
One of the problems as I see it is the lack of interest and unwillingness to invest careers in the area. I was talking to David who has been pushing the idea of the Middleport Canal Basin for many years now. He told Fred Hughes and I that over a ten-year period he had seen 14 different regeneration officers. Anyway I digress and back to the conversation.
The person I was having a conversation with mentioned the Hanley Bus Station development and the fact that the company that won the contract were French although they had a Manchester office. His concern briefly put is that contracts won seem to benefit North West based companies to the detriment of local companies.
I have two examples to add to this suspicion.
In the 90s I was walking through Piccadilly in Hanley and noticed that the company putting in paving stones in the pedestrian area was from Atherton near Wigan.
In another case a demolition of a Stoke school was carried out by a Greater Manchester company and allegedly they had to drive past Five Towns Demolition HQ in Fenton to work on the school.
My contact is of the belief that companies from outside the area win too many contracts. He is suspicious of this.
Is he right to be suspicious?
I have to say proof of the pudding is in the use of Community Benefit Clauses in contracts. If there is major work being carried out in the area on in the City the Council must ensure by use of CBC’s that work comes to locals.