The Olympics will benefit Core Cities say 61% of civic leaders
August 16 2005An overwhelming majority of civic and business leaders from the eight core cities believe that the Olympics will have a beneficial financial effect on England’s largest cities after London. In a poll of over 350 delegates at the Core Cities Summit, held in Leeds in July, 61 per cent said that they thought the success of the bid for the 2012 Games would have a positive economic impact on their home city. Only 12 per cent of delegates from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and Leeds, thought that the Games would leave them worse off. Some council leaders have already expressed fears that major infrastructure projects would be threatened, by the diversion of resources to the £1.6billion building project, which is already underway for the Games. This poll, however, concurs with the approach of Yorkshire Forward which announced that the region could gain from £600million in economic benefits, based on the experience of New South Wales businesses that won over £430million in contracts for the Sydney Games.
The poll will have pleased government ministers who attended the summit. Although stressing the importance of cities in terms of development David Miliband, Minister for Communities and Local Government, impressed on delegates that “great cities are crucial to a nation’s future – economically, socially and culturally.” He told gathered leaders that the eight cities they represented “are essentially European cities,” but, drawing comparisons with Valencia, Hamburg, and Turin, admitted that although “football teams in our major cities may be competing with the best in Europe, but on many measures – economic growth, skills, connectivity – our cities are in a different league.” In a move that puts cities even closer at the heart of government strategy for the regions, Miliband announced a series of individual city summits, which will be completed by December and followed by a State of Cities report, in January 2006.
Miliband highlighted leadership, as the primary area for council’s to look into.
The best cities have leaders that have a clear vision for the future of an area about the city’s future. For instance, “Liverpool’s City of Culture was won partly because it had strong leadership from the council… Strong civic leadership in Manchester went together with entrepreneurial leadership in the private sector. We came from behind to win the Olympics bid because leaders from the political and sporting world and communities themselves came together.” Although he identified, physical and social infrastructure, services, resources and values as areas in which cities could improve their governance, he emphasised, “you must ask yourselves the same: what will it take to get dynamic leadership.”
Other ministers made it clear that the government was endeavouring to ensure that they did their best to raise the international profile of the “core cities”. Baroness Andrews announced that six of the eight core cities would play host to some of the informal EU ministerial meetings being organised across the country by government departments during the UK’s six-month presidency of the EU. Hilary Benn, Minister for International Development, described the visit of a delegation from West Bengal to see how Liverpool First has transformed its waterfront. Benn said that he was looking at the international profile of core cities, “We are interested in the opportunities that a City- Region approach might afford similar city-regions in developing countries,” he said
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