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Better than the Best Grand designs for the Lake District Enterprise quest Inspiring tomorrow’s entrepreneurs Farm to fork Celebrating the region’s food heroes Economic re-birth Regeneration the Northern Way Health tonic New academy boosts skills pool



Cover image Climbing is the best way to enjoy Lakeland scenery

The third degree Alan Gilbert

2005 will be an important and busy year for us all. The most significant task we face is the review of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES). The strategy belongs to the region, not the NWDA, so it is important that you become involved whether you are from the private, public or voluntary sector.

Business Development

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Region woos young entrepreneurs Feeding a passion for regional food Northwest Food Producer of the Year Awards


10 Cool tips for region’s innovators 11 Northwest leads best practice league


Skills & Employment

18 UCLan boosts graduate career prospects 20 Academy tonic for health recruitment 21 Overcoming the language barrier

The RES must continue to set out a clear and measurable vision for the region, and outline clear policies to deliver the vision with the actions required. It must continue to address the key issues that affect our economic performance.


12 Beacon of regeneration excellence 14 Bathing waters boost image 15 North unites to spark economic rebirth


Bryan Gray

16 Mines project secures salt town’s future 17 Urban renewal focus on central Salford



The RES we produce must be a strong evidence based document that will inform future policies and investment decisions. It should also make clear how the actions we identify will impact on competitiveness, productivity and Gross Value Added across the region. It has the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of individuals and communities across the Northwest.

The review process will be challenging, but it is vital that we all work hard to get it right. I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and every success in 2005.

Bryan Gray January 2005

An Economic Analysis has been commissioned that will provide the evidence base for the production of a draft RES that will be published in June. We will lead a formal consultation between July and September. The final draft of the RES will be submitted to the government in December.

22 New drive to beat traffic congestion


24 Grand designs for the Lake District 26 A winning formula 27 Tourism awards showcase quality

315° Contacts

28 Whitehall despatches 29 Event highlights 30 Viewpoint

31 NWDA area offices



Trevor Bates

Emma Degg 01925 400 100

Chairman’s message







The Third Degree

What are your hopes and aspirations for the new University of Manchester in the next ten years? We want to be one of the top 25 research-intensive universities of the world, a robust comprehensive institution of genuine world-class significance that informs its teaching and scholarship with high quality research in all the key disciplines that are pushing forward the boundaries of human knowledge. Where and how should Manchester brand itself in the educational marketplace? The most important thing a university does is to educate and train the next generation of knowledge workers. If a university is tempted to behave like a brand-led business as distinct from being business-like it is making a mistake. Whilst we see our main game as being to produce wonderful people for industry we do have a secondary role of transferring knowledge and Intellectual Property into the wider economy. What has been the response nationally and internationally to the merger? There’s general concern in the UK about the overwhelming concentration of wealth creation and key institutional drivers in the South East so there’s been real excitement for the notion that it may be possible for the North, and in particular the Northwest, to create a genuine centre of world-class economic and cultural activity that can compete with the South East. I don’t think we could have counted on a better welcome. Lots of hope is being invested in the merger. Has the merger process thrown up any fresh ideas about the way universities should operate in the 21st Century? The thing that attracted me here from half way across the world is the sheer uniqueness of the opportunity. Universities have been very effective at their educational functions but over the 900 years of their existence have become fairly conservative, inefficient institutions. The merger gives us a chance to re-conceptualise and redesign the university for a new century.


Gilbert On October 21 the Queen formally launched the new University of Manchester making it the first new university to be established by Royal Charter in the 21st Century. As President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Gilbert will have responsibility for an organisation with over 36,000 students and 9,000 staff. He will also lead the implementation of the Manchester 2015 Agenda, a strategy to make Manchester one of the world’s top research universities. He has a particularly successful track record in his native Australia of providing strong leadership to universities facing merger.

A lot of our thinking has been about ways of structuring the university so it can deliver its goals more efficiently, so it can engage with industry more effectively. Our IP policies, for example, offer our researchers very generous incentives to transfer more of their discoveries into the regional and national economy rather than them being lost to it. The Manchester 2015 Agenda envisages a large investment programme. How will it benefit the regional economy? Over the next five years we have plans to spend £300 million on capital development schemes. The money has been pledged from a variety of sources including £50 million from our own resources and £35 million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). Another £100 million will be invested in recruitment by 2015. We have just published an economic impact report showing that the university generates £1.4 billion for the Northwest region every year. This should double to £2.8 billion over the next decade if the strategy is successful. In your Foundation Day address you expressed high hopes of recruiting some Nobel Laureates. When can we expect results? We see it as fairly important to get some early runs on the board and will regard it as a failure not to have at least three such people by the end of 2007. I would also regard it as pretty unsatisfactory not to be able to make some announcement in the next 12 months. Attracting such people would be a major symbolic expression of the confidence being invested in the university around the world.

In what areas of research and scientific discovery do you think Manchester will be making its mark in the next decade? Nuclear science will be a major area of opportunity for us especially as a lot of the focus of the £60 billion nuclear decommissioning programme will be in the Northwest. We also see Manchester becoming one of the most important centres in the world for cancer research in the basic science, translational science and clinical solutions. Many of the breakthroughs now the human geome project is completed will come in applying some of the computational techniques of the physical sciences to the life sciences. We expect Jodrell Bank to remain an important icon of progress in astrophysics and theoretical physics. The university is also on the brink of having the strongest sociology research cluster. How can you balance Manchester’s soaring ambition to be one of the world’s top universities with a policy of increased access for the less privileged? I don’t see any conflict. Manchester will be fiercely meritocratic, rather than elitist and widening participation is a meritocratic agenda. That doesn’t mean we are going to take students who don’t have the potential to fully benefit from what a university has to offer. We are going to invest resources and energy to lift the very poor participation rates in Higher Education in some parts of the Northwest, irrespective of whether students come here or go elsewhere. We will do this through scholarships, bursaries and engagement with the primary and secondary school systems.

The merger gives us a chance to re-conceptualise and redesign the university for a new century Universities are important stakeholders in regional economies. How would you define Manchester’s role in this context? The best thing Manchester can do for the region is to be a world-class, internationally focused institution bringing some of the best people and ideas into the Northwest. It’s not going to be a narrowly focused regional institution. That’s the worst thing we could be and do for region. On the other hand we want to become a fully committed partner with other corporate and institutional interests in the Northwest to make this one of the great dynamic cultural and economic areas of the world. What are your impressions of the Northwest? It’s a stunningly beautiful part of the world and we have made it our business to see as much of the hinterland as we can. The weather has been a pleasant surprise. We have joined a golf club and know that you can play golf all year round. The region has all the ingredients for success and it is absolutely vital that people don’t talk it down.




Region woos young entrepreneurs Business, schools, colleges and support agencies joined forces during Enterprise Week in a major push to inspire the region’s young people to follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of Richard Branson and James Dyson. 1


Many of the events organised within the Northwest as part of the first national celebration of enterprise were aimed at people in the 14-25 age group, the future backbone of the region’s prosperity. The ‘catch them young’ philosophy was strongly evident in the ‘Directors of Tomorrow’ conference at Manchester International Convention Centre, chaired by Anthony Wilson, Founder of Factory Records, and attended by 500 youngsters from 40 schools, colleges and universities. They were given shrewd insights into the pleasures and perils of being your own boss by some of the region’s successful entrepreneurs including Sharon Hilditch (Crystal Clear), James Reed (DryOnline), Ruth Turner (Vision 21), Dominic Apenteng (Circle Club) and Gary McClarnan (Potential Development). There were plenty of tips on how to succeed. “If you continue to adapt, improve and re-invent your business, the competition can’t catch up”, advised Tom Minton, Managing Director of Buddha Bag. The event was sponsored by the Institute of Directors, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Business Enterprise Xchange (BEX) and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which co-ordinates a comprehensive programme of enterprise activity throughout the year. Delegates attending the BEX networking conference at the MICC were captivated with tales of corporate derring-do from the likes

of Sir Tom Farmer, founder of Kwik Fit, and Charles Allen of ITV plc. The two-day event showcased a range of support for growing businesses and featured an ‘Ideas Factory’ seminar stream that provided micro and start-up businesses with a 15-minute platform to sell their ideas to an audience of advisers and potential partners. Enterprise Week caught the imagination of students, young adults and advisory groups in all corners of the region and dozens of seminars, workshops, roadshows and competitions were held to stimulate interest in enterprise and entrepreneurship as a career and lifestyle option. The NWDA is moving forward with a number of new initiatives to maintain the momentum created by Enterprise Week. The first of these is a new website - - aimed at providing Northwest schools and colleges with an online resource to help teach enterprise to young people.

If you continue to adapt, improve and re-invent your business, the competition can’t catch up Developed by the University of Salford with £100,000 of Agency funding, the website was based on a design idea submitted by four pupils at Reddish Vale Technology College, Stockport, winners of the Northwest Schools Challenge. In February the NWDA and the newly-formed National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) will launch a ‘Flying Start’ rally and competition at the City of Manchester Stadium to find the region’s most promising graduate entrepreneurs. Fifteen candidates will be chosen from 350 university students, postgraduates and alumni to join a one-to-one mentoring programme that will take their business concepts to a state of investment readiness.

Enterprise capital Blackburn with Darwen has been chosen to carry the banner of enterprise for the Northwest in a prestigious competition launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. The borough edged out Manchester, St. Helens and Bolton to claim the title of ‘England’s Northwest Capital of Enterprise’ and an award of £150,000 from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). Blackburn will now bid for greater glory in the national final of the UK Capital of Enterprise challenge in Spring when the Chancellor will announce the winner. A panel of distinguished business leaders judged the four regional finalists on a range of criteria for fostering enterprise. NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray said the winning authority had “developed an enterprise strategy that had delivered a real step change in performance over the past three years.”





Hot tips Learning the secrets of entrepreneurship Master of ceremonies Anthony Wilson orchestrates the enterprise debate Bright sparks Schools provide new inspiration for SMEs

Cashing in on classroom creativity Small companies are harnessing the inventiveness of enterprise-minded Northwest schools to help with the successful development of new products and processes. Schools taking part in the pioneering young business initiative have come up with bright ideas to cut textile waste, assist a food entrepreneur launch a recipe book and help another company enhance a laser game experience. During the ICE2004 competition run by Bolton Institute as part of the ACCOMPLICE programme, 172 pupils and teachers from 24 schools worked on challenging technology, science and engineering briefs prepared by 13 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The winning idea came from a combined team of Year 10 students from Tarleton High School and Ormskirk High School. They worked with Bury-based Thomas French on a textile waste problem costing the firm thousands of pounds a year. Managing Director Peter Owen said the team had generated a product idea that could reduce the company’s spending on landfill while improving the quality of life for people in need of shelter following natural disasters. They are now actively pursuing this idea. The ACCOMPLICE programme is receiving £600,000 of funding support over three years from the NWDA and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Schools benefit, says Project Manager Tim Ward, because students develop skills related to innovation and enterprise and work with real companies. “It’s not something teachers were contriving in the classroom. From the company’s point of view they get access to a lot of creative people who come up with problems that have stumped them. These ideas then create sales and jobs.” The 2005 competition was launched with events in Kendal, Preston and Bolton leading to the regional final in April.




Feeding a passion for regional food Blackcurrant jam made by farmer’s wife Sue Prickett from fruit grown locally in Cumbria and an authentic Moroccan spice blend created by Mark Steene’s Liverpool-based company tickled the taste buds of judges choosing this year’s regional food heroes. The two winners illustrated perfectly the diversity among the record 325 entries in the recent fourth annual Northwest Food Producer Awards. And it’s not only the entry numbers that are rising. Nigel Haworth, chef patron at Lancashire’s Northcote Manor hotel and restaurant, and one of the judges, says: “This competition becomes more and more difficult to judge as the standard gets higher each year.” He believes that the region is now at the forefront of the Great British Food movement, creating “a growing passion for Northwest food throughout the country.” He is not alone. The Northwest Fantastic Foods Partnership has seen an increase in recent years in the number of producers, in farmers’ markets, and in restaurants, cafes and local shops acknowledging the value of describing their meals and produce as local. They estimate that the annual turnover of the quality and speciality food sector in the Northwest is £1.4 million. Lorna Tyson, Chair of the Partnership, says: “We want to celebrate both our locally-grown food and our speciality foods. People who live in the Northwest are now more concerned about the origin of their food and more aware of the distinctiveness we have in the region. And visitors want to sample specialities unique to the area.” A grouping of food support agencies, the Partnership was set up early in 2004 with funding of £2.4 million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to help make smaller producers more competitive. Sue Prickett’s blackcurrant jam can now be added to the list of specialities. Sue, voted Northwest Producer of the Year, makes jams, marmalades and chutneys in her farm kitchen at Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria on a cooker with space for just two jam pans. She started making jam for her local Women’s Institute market over 10 years ago and now sells at craft fairs, food festivals and through local shops. “I really was surprised to hear my name as the overall winner,” she says. “But it’s great to know that a small producer can win because the awards are such an important way of promoting local produce.”

Mark Steene, founder of Seasoned Pioneers of Liverpool, picked up the ‘best ingredient’ award for the company’s authentic Moroccan spice blend, Ras-al-Hanout – ‘top-of-the-shop’ in Arabic. The judges obviously agreed with chef Antony Worrall Thompson who chose the blend as his luxury item for his stay in an Australian jungle on TV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here’. Mark, who started the company five years ago, imports ingredients from around the world, roasts the whole spices on site, from which he creates over 200 different seasonings, including around 50 organic varieties. He supplies supermarkets, around 200 delicatessens, restaurants and mail order customers from all over the world. “We have even sold our Sri Lankan curry blend to someone in Sri Lanka!” he says. Organised by North West Fine Foods, the awards are sponsored by Booths Supermarkets and supported by the NWDA and Defra.


Northwest Producer of the Year and Best preserve/pickle Sue Prickett, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria Traditional regional speciality Cheshire unpasteurised cheese, H.S.Bourne, Malpas, Cheshire

Other winners Best beef and best sausage with additives Cumbrian Fellbred, Milnthorpe

Best ready meal, sauce or soup Moussaka - Natural Larder, Congleton

Best overall sausage and pure pork sausage Bowland Outdoor Reared Pork, Tatham, nr Carnforth

Best fruit and veg Ambo potato - W & E.F. Neale, Burscough

Best air dried meat Air dried mutton - Farmer Sharp, Lyndale in Furness Best pork Middle White pork - Savin Hill, Kendal

Best cheese and overall best dairy Whitehaven Goats Cheese - Ravens Oak Dairy, Nantwich Best bakery product Granarius Bread - Little Salkeld Watermill

Best bacon & overall best cured meat Bacon - Brough Butchers, Birkdale, Southport

Best ingredient Ras-al-Hanout spice blend - Seasoned Pioneers, Liverpool

Best cooked meat counter product Home cooked ham - Hartley’s Farm Foods, Nelson

Best alcoholic drink Pendle Witch beer - Moorhouses Brewery, Burnley

Best poultry Ostrich fillet - Weatheroak Ostrich Farm, Kirkham

Best soft drink Blackcurrant and apple juice - Eddisbury Fruit Farm, Kelsall

Best savoury pie/pastry The Quack Oink Pie - Furness Fish, Poultry and Game Supplies, Ulverston

Best overall dessert Chocolate tart - The Baker, Gatley

Best black/offal pudding Savoury Dux - Border County Foods, Crosby in Eden, Carlisle

Best ice cream Cappuccino - English Lakes Ice Cream, Kendal

Best fish Smoked mackerel - Cumberland Cold Storage, Whitehaven For further information:

Ian Haythornthwaite has been appointed Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources for the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). He was formerly Pro ViceChancellor at the University of Central Lancashire and has extensive public sector management experience... The NWDA is to pilot a new Air Services Development Fund in the Northwest. The scheme will operate by encouraging investment in the growth of new routes through the region’s airports thus improving connectivity to strategic long haul destinations and European hubs... Merseyside edged out strong European competition to win a £115 million investment project to build a new six-speed automotive transmission system. Backed by a £5 million Department of Trade and Industry grant, the GETRAG FORD Transmissions facility at Halewood will safeguard 736 jobs... TEChINVEST, the business angel introduction and equity advisory service provided by the NWDA, has been named ‘Private Investor Network of the Year’ in the Investor Allstars Awards in London organised by GP Capital and Business XL... Wall Street is set to make its mark in the region following the announcement that The Bank of New York, America’s oldest bank, is to open an office in Manchester to support the growth of its operations in the UK and Europe. The investment in a major new office facility will create 350 jobs by 2006...

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Cool tips for region’s innovators Northwest entrepreneurs were given some inspirational tips on how to succeed in business when the region hosted the Department of Trade and Industry’s premier innovation event at the Palm House in Liverpool’s Sefton Park. 1


Innovation champion NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray

During a one-hour televised broadcast, linked by satellite to 30 events around the country, including four in the Northwest, two of Britain’s most dynamic innovators recounted their experiences on the sometimes rocky road to fame and fortune. Restaurateur Simon Woodruffe, founder of YO! (conveyor-belt sushi bars and drinks dispensed by robots) expounded his philosophy of “constant and never-ending” innovation. “I’m always looking for revolutionaries to try to do new things,” he told his audience. He had one clear message for would-be entrepreneurs: “Be willing to fail. Only through failure is there a pathway to success.” Woodruffe who has been dubbed Britain’s ‘coolest’ entrepreneur is spreading the YO! brand into other areas of commercial activity. Another key speaker at the event was Sir Christopher Evans of Merlin Bioscience who has raised over £1 billion to support innovative bio-tech companies. He offered advice on how to create and grow companies. His recipe? “Put your most charismatic person at the top and do not countenance failure.” The Palm House provided a unique setting for the event. Completed in 1896, the Grade II octagonal glasshouse was refurbished in 2000 with £2.5 million of Lottery funding and is now an iconic symbol of Merseyside’s regeneration.

Hosted by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and introduced by BBC broadcaster Fiona Bruce, Living Innovation is an annual event designed to promote and encourage innovation in British business. It was the first time the region had staged the event. NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray reminded guests that the Northwest needed to generate £15 billion of additional economic activity a year to close the prosperity gap with the rest of the UK. “The only way to do that is to be commercially innovative so we want to encourage people to bring forward ideas and commercialise them. There is a huge treasure house of Intellectual Property in Northwest universities and the trick is to get it out and create new businesses.” One of the region’s link events was held at Bolton’s new Technical Innovation Centre (TIC), a hands-on facility that aims to promote technology as a career option among school children.

Put your most charismatic person at the top and do not countenance failure TIC Director Paul Abbott told the nationwide audience via the live satellite link of the “enormous potential” in every child, warning that “we face tremendous decline as a nation if we don’t do something to stimulate more interesting science and technology.” After the broadcast the key speakers joined award winning social entrepreneur Ruth Turner in a lively question and answer session with members of the Palm House audience. Ruth had one interesting tip for business fledglings: “Be prepared to take on people who will scare the life out of you...” Jenny Auton of Macclesfield, won the national Award for Innovation in the 2004 Year in Industry/EEF ‘Contribution to the Business’ competition for gap year work she had undertaken at Colgate-Palmolive’s Salford plant.

Northwest leads best practice league The Business Links Service in the Northwest is proving nearly twice as effective as other regions at guiding small and medium sized employers down the road to best practice. The measure of the region’s performance was revealed in new figures showing the take-up rate of a new diagnostic and benchmarking product introduced by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). In the first six months of the scheme’s operation the Northwest Business Links Service delivered the best practice product to a quarter of their target market, the highest penetration rate in the country (the English average was 13.6 per cent). The new product - Support to Implement Best Business Practice (SIBBP) - was introduced in April 2004 as another weapon in the government’s drive to improve productivity in the all-important Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) sector. The Northwest has received £500,000 of DTI funding to undertake 1,060 diagnostics and by September 2004 the region’s Business Links Service had completed 252. Led by Business Skills Northwest, the skills and productivity arm of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), the service is provided through five contracted organisations, one for each sub-region. The Business Link service in Cheshire and Warrington was the best performing in the country having worked with 130 local companies out of a contract figure of 160. Three other Northwest providers (Cumbria, East Lancashire and North & Western Lancashire) were also among the top 11 performers. Hilary Centeleghe, a business adviser with Cheshire and Warrington, describes SIBBP as a good vehicle for introducing change. “It shows where a company is in the marketplace and what it needs to focus on to improve its position.” Her work with Warrington-based X-Press Legal Services, a family owned company providing a specialist conveyancing service for lawyers, highlights the benefits that can be gained from using the new diagnostic and benchmarking process. A two-year old start-up managed initially by mother and son team Lynne and Christian Lister (they have since been joined by father Dave, son Russell and daughter Hannah) the company grew rapidly to 14 employees and needed professional guidance on a future growth strategy. Since embarking on the SIBBP process X-Press has seen a 15% increase in turnover, with nine new contracts, more staff, better workforce development, a succession plan, two new product areas and better marketing imagery. “They had been doing very well but working all hours, getting tired and stressed, “ explains Hilary. “What they needed was for someone to put things in order for them. They took everything on board and just got on with it.” Business Skills Northwest has recently funded the training of an additional 80 business advisers to cope with increasing demand for the diagnostic tool. Early evaluation suggests very high customer satisfaction rates of around 95%. For further information:


The NWDA welcomed four new Board members in December. They are property developer David Brockbank, John Moverley, Chief Executive and Principal of Myerscough College, Cumbria businessman Peter Hensman and John Merry, Labour Leader of Salford City Council... Recent data from HM Customs Statistics shows the Northwest has overtaken the South East as the UK’s leading exporter of pharmaceuticals. In 2003 the region exported goods worth £3.4 billion. It also leads on balance of trade, with figures nearly double the next best region, the North East... INTERCYTEX won the ‘Company of the Year’ accolade in the Northwest Biotechnology Awards, hosted by Bionow. Dr Kevin Scott of Senxsis was named Young Biotechnologist of the Year while his company received the Start-Up award. Agri-Biotech collected the Project of the Year award... Lancaster University is spearheading a 24-centre Europewide research project into methods of building micro and nano scale components into commercial products. The NWDA has helped secure £4.5 million of EU funding for the four-year programme...

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Beacon of regeneration excellence

One of the prime aims of RENEW will be to turn the Northwest into an international beacon of excellence in the planning and practical delivery of urban and rural renewal. RENEW will draw together the skills, best practice, knowledge and experience of hundreds of organisations and regeneration professionals active in the Northwest.

What we don’t want to do is set people up to fail. Our aim is to spread good practice and promote learning The concept of regional centres of regeneration excellence was first identified in the seminal report of the Urban Task Force, chaired by the architect peer Lord Rogers. It gained more impetus when the government published the Sustainable Communities Plan in early 2003. The idea finally got off the ground in the Northwest in 2004 when the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) pledged £3 million of funding for RENEW over five years and appointed Phil Barton as its Director. The organisation will have its formal launch at the first ever government-sponsored Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit to be held Manchester’s GMEX Centre on January 31-February 2. Up to 2,000 delegates from the UK and overseas are expected to attend, including a number of world experts on regeneration. RENEW is based in the Tea Factory, Liverpool, where it is conveniently co-located with the Royal Institute of British Architects, CABE and the Arts Council, organisations at the heart of the regeneration process. Barton says his aim is to add value and help employers and professionals improve on regional competences in regeneration. He came to the region in 1979 to work for Manchester City Council and has since built a wide portfolio of practical experience in environmental and community regeneration.



Liverpool waterfront Gateway to the world

A major new initiative is underway to inject more quality design, professional skill, innovation and foresight into the region’s multi-billion pound regeneration industry.

“I’ve always been frustrated by the fact that so much regeneration activity is done in separate silos with different professions and organisations not working together effectively. That leads to serial failure because only parts of the job get done.” RENEW will work with all those who have a key role to play in the renewal process, he says. Research suggests there are about 15,000 people actively engaged in regeneration within the region. Barton, who set up the National Centre for Business Ecology in Salford in1995 (now known as the National Centre of Business and Sustainability), inherits four major strands of activity. His most important priority is working with partners and employers to drive up the collective skills of the regeneration professions. In a recent report to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Sir John Egan identified over 100 professions that are needed to deliver an effective sustainable community. “We need to focus on improving core skills, things like leadership, project management, partnership working and conflict management.” Promoting and spreading good practice is another strong item on RENEW’s agenda. It has already taken over the NWDA’s Regeneration Masterclass programme and has identified a number of case studies of regeneration excellence for showcasing at the Manchester summit. RENEW will not set quality standards, insists Barton, but it will identify those qualities of excellence it would like to see in regeneration projects. “What we don’t want to do is set people up to fail,” he explains. “Our aim is to spread good practice and promote learning”. Two other key areas of activity will be knowledge management using RENEW as a networking and support information conduit via an interactive website - and foresight and innovation to make the region better prepared to meet future regeneration challenges. RENEW hopes to enlist higher education institutions to shape new practitioner learning and training programmes. A survey by the North West Universities Association has revealed that universities and colleges currently offer over 100 relevant courses.

Gateway scheme celebrates diversity Well-designed and executed renewal projects can be a source of community pride. That’s the case in Liverpool where local people offered constructive suggestions on how to provide an attractive gateway into the city’s commercial quarter. Community consultation was an important factor in designing a series of inter-connecting plazas and streets between Princes Dock and the eastbound Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Commissioned by the Beetham Organisation, the ‘Liverpool - Threshold to

the Ends of the Earth’ project deployed an art and architecture solution to assimilate the new Passport Office, Radisson Hotel and Tower apartments into the fabric of the city. The £1.5 million contemporary scheme, which provides pedestrians with shelter, plugs into the city’s strong tradition as a gateway from and to the rest of the world. The partners included Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Vision, Carillion, Broadbent Artworks, BCA Landscape and Smiling Wolf Multi-Media.

Poster and website campaigns, supported by interviews, resulted in over 25 different ethnic cultures being physically represented in the artwork - a positive celebration of Liverpool’s diversity. RENEW’s Phil Barton hails the contribution made by the design team. “They took a challenging brief and developed it not only to reflect the culture and heritage of that part of Liverpool, but also to engage diverse communities originating from around the world.”

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Bathing waters boost image There has never been a better time to be beside the seaside in the Northwest, according to the Environment Agency. For the region’s ‘beach boys’ have scored a major hit with a massive investment programme in the quality of its bathing water.

Today 36 out of 37 bathing waters in the Northwest have reached European Standards and 14 beaches are included in the 2004 Good Beach Guide, compared with just two in 2003. The next step is to persuade those Northwest local authorities that have reached the highest European standards to apply for the coveted Blue Flag, awarded to resorts that maintain immaculate clean sands and seawater which complies with European standards and offer lifesaving equipment and the best facilities. The improved bathing waters and beaches are as a result of investment by local authorities, United Utilities - particularly in improving coastal sewage treatment plants - and the Environment Agency, which is responsible for directing investment and for projects that contribute to the improvements. The Agency is also lead partner in a three-year transnational project, Inland Coastal Recreational Waters (ICREW), part funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The project, which aims to improve the region’s image through better bathing water designation and recreational water quality, involves domestic and international partners including the NWDA, Mersey Basin Campaign and Preston and Blackpool local authorities. Launched in October 2003, the project - comprising seven pilot actions - offers a significant opportunity to raise the profile of the best inland and coastal waters. In turn this will improve the image and reputation of Northwest beaches and attract tourists, helping to deliver one of the priorities of the NWDA’s Regional Economic Strategy (RES). One of ICREW’s pilot actions involves the examination of the current status of existing recreational waters and the identification of potential new ones. Kate Oates, ICREW project officer, says: “Within the Northwest there are both coastline and inland waters which are well used and others that are designated for recreation, yet are hardly used at all. We want to assess them and decide which can offer good water quality, safe access and other facilities.” Preston Dock in Lancashire, badly affected by a build up of blue-green algae - acknowledged as an unsightly problem affecting both business and tourism in the city - is being used as a case study in the UK. ICREW hopes to find a solution to minimise or stop the algae growth, leading to an enhanced recreational use for the marina and possible further economic regeneration of the area, another priority in the RES. Another pilot action is looking at the impact of diffuse agricultural pollution on bathing water quality, advising businesses on sustainable farming practices to reduce the amount of waste entering watercourses. Environmental improvements are a key part of United Utilities’ £3 billion investment between 2000 and 2005, the largest programme of its kind in the country. For further information:

North unites to spark economic rebirth Eight city regions, three in the Northwest, are to spearhead a bold new attempt by the government and the three Northern Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to close the £29 billion productivity gap between the North and the rest of the country. Plans to boost prosperity to the level enjoyed by the UK’s more affluent areas were outlined in a growth strategy Moving Forward: the Northern Way, launched by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in September. Manchester, Liverpool and Central Lancashire will play pivotal roles with five city regions across the Pennines in driving forward the 20-year vision. A new £100 million growth fund will be used to maximise the impact of £7 billion of public investment already earmarked for the North. The Northern Way is the culmination of six months of detailed work by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Yorkshire Forward, One NorthEast and other partners to identify measures that would trigger a step-change in the North’s competitive performance. The RDAs have set clear targets on how to achieve a turnaround. They want to see 100,000 people on incapacity benefit brought into work by 2014, the rate of business start-ups raised from 30 to 33 per 10,000 by 2008, a 25% increase in Research and Development spending by 2010 and more tonnage through Northern ports (up from 32 to 35% of the national total by 2010). The NWDA, whose regional remit takes nearly half of the North’s 14 million population, will lead on economic inclusion, the knowledge base, employer skill needs and the Northern Leadership Academy, a new facility to be based in the Northwest.

100,000 people on incapacity benefit brought into work by 2014 “This is not just about social justice,“ explains Nick Gerrard, NWDA Head of Policy and Performance, “it’s also about providing an economic counterweight to the South East, which is very much in the national interest.” He sits on the Northern Way Task Group and co-ordinates the Agency’s input into the process. The objectives of Northern Way, he stresses, are to add value to existing RDA activities, and develop the North’s asset base. A progress report will go to John Prescott at the Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester in January. It is expected to contain a business plan and a full costing of early priorities. The Northern Way dimension will also feature in the next review of the three regional economic and spatial strategies. The three RDAs will use 2005 to lobby for a higher level of public investment in the North from the government’s 2006 Spending Review. Transport will be a key issue. Priorities for investment will include schemes that are relevant to the growth of Manchester Airport and the port zones (Mersey, Humber/Hull and Tees). The Northern Way builds on successful collaboration by the RDAs on cluster development and overseas investment marketing. “This new vision takes the economic agenda up to a much higher level to include a whole spectrum of economic activity”, adds Nick Gerrard.


Manchester’s landmark 400-ft high CIS service tower is to be re-clad with photovoltaic panels to increase the company’s commitment to renewable energy supplies. Supported by a £885,000 NWDA grant, the £5.5 million project will create Europe’s largest vertical array of solar panels... Communities in the region’s former coalfield areas are set to benefit from a new £5 million regeneration package announced by the NWDA. The money will be used to create employment and learning opportunities in 48 deprived wards and reclaim 25 hectares of brownfield land, some of it for woodland... Plans have been unveiled for a £27 million transformation of Warrington Collegiate’s Winwick Road campus. Funded largely by the College with help from the NWDA and other organisations, the development will include a £3.5 million Business School and a major construction skills centre. It is due for completion in April 2006... Cumbria County Council is to spend £6 million of NWDA funding on a second stage scheme to reclaim 136 hectares of derelict land. The programme will help to recreate wildlife areas, community parks and woodland as well as new cycle ways and footpaths... Morecambe’s Grade II listed Midland Hotel is to be redeveloped as part of a wider plan to regenerate the resort’s central seafront area. Funded with £4 million from the NWDA, the restored hotel is expected to add £1.2 million a year to the local economy...

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Mines project secures salt town’s future 1

Northwich library A town rich in heritage


After years of restricted growth, a legacy of its industrial past, Northwich has embarked on an ambitious ten-year period of retail and residential driven regeneration that will breathe new economic vitality into the historic salt town. The catalyst for change is a £32 million English Partnershipsfunded programme to stabilise four abandoned salt mines beneath the town. Due for completion in 2007, the highly technical project will unlock 30 hectares (75 acres) of prime development land within the commercial core. In 2003 seven organisations including the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Cheshire County Council and Vale Royal Borough Council forged an alliance under the banner of Northwich Vision to capitalise on the new opportunities, and in October 2004 laid out their ideas in an innovative regeneration framework. The venture reached an important milestone in October 2004 when the partners began the public process of finding an experienced developer for an eight-hectare (20 acre) site

Urban renewal focus on Central Salford

at Baron’s Quay. By the time the offer closed there had been 40 expressions of interest. Andy Evans, Head of Economic Regeneration at Vale Royal, insists that without the stabilisation programme the plans could not have gone ahead. “The mines legacy has constrained the town’s growth. It’s why Northwich has crept along instead of leapt along. “But we now have a brilliant regeneration canvas to work with which is attracting a great deal of interest from developers and end users.” Rock salt has been mined in the area for 400 years but ended in the town in 1922. Engineers are now preparing to flush out brine from the abandoned mines and pump in a solidifying mixture of pulverised fuel ash, cement and salt. Chris Koral, Area Manager of the NWDA’s Cheshire Office,

says the stabilisation programme should remove the risk of further subsidence from eroding salt pillars within the mines, preparing the way for private sector investment. The Agency has committed £3 million towards enhancing the Northwich Community Woodlands area to the north of the town centre, improving access and reclaiming derelict land. Vale Royal will be working with other partners, including British Waterways, to redevelop four other key sites. Together with Baron’s Quay they are expected to provide an additional 21,700 sq metres (200,000 sq ft) of retail space and 1000 new homes. Endowed with an attractive heritage of black and white ‘magpie’ buildings and frontages on two rivers (Weaver and Dane) Northwich (population 44,700) is located at the heart

of one of the UK’s wealthiest areas. The first scheme launched under the Northwich Vision banner is the £500,000 transformation of the town’s Victorian railway station building into a new communitylearning centre. Other projects include a showpiece cultural centre housing a conference facility, library, gallery, museum and visitor centre and a newly designed market square. Most of the proposed development land is currently used as car parks. Also on the agenda is a third river crossing to increase road access to the town centre and there are plans for water borne transport to provide a tourist link with the restored Anderton Boat Lift. For further information:

Salford has staked its claim to be a regeneration pacesetter by appointing a team of acclaimed international planners to produce an ambitious 20-year masterplan to transform the economic, cultural and social character of the central area.

Salford Quays skyline

Winners of a hotly contested design competition, Locum Destination Consulting will work with businesses and local communities to shape the commercial and residential heart of Salford into a dynamic western gateway to the regional centre. The successful consortium brings together leading Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, Canadian regeneration guru Joe Berridge and economist Professor Stuart Gulliver, who played a key role in the successful transformation of Glasgow. The appointment coincides with the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s decision to seek approval for a new urban regeneration company (URC) to co-ordinate the renewal process. Funding partners would include the NWDA, Salford City Council and English Partnerships. A shadow Board is in place led by former BBC presenter Felicity Goodey. The recruitment process for the full Board and Chief Executive is underway. The designated URC area will cover eight wards of central Salford, an area of 2,100 hectares where crime, unemployment and low housing demand are key issues. Over 8,000 people have migrated out of the target area since 1991 and Salford is now the focus of a Housing Market Renewal programme which will pump £48 million into the city to reverse that drift. One aim is to create smart new family housing to improve the social mix of people in and around the central core. It will be the first time Massimiliano Fuksas has worked in the UK. His clients include iconic design names like Ferrari and Armani. “To get results, not only do we have to know the local community,” he explained, “we also have to love the local people.” Helen France, NWDA Executive Director of Development and Partnerships, says the purpose of the Locum masterplan will be to guide the URC’s own investment programme and the “substantial private investment that is expected to flow into the area.” A plan detailing priorities for investment will be presented to the NWDA board in June 2005. “A URC will add value to Manchester city centre and we hope at the same time it can establish a more independent identity for Salford,” she explains. With more development opportunities on offer, Central Salford is attracting growing developer interest particularly along the riverside and the Chapel Street corridor, which is home to a number of creative and media businesses. Salford’s two railway stations - Central and the Crescent - have also been identified as new investment hubs. Planners are also keen to exploit the learning and enterprise potential of the University of Salford, which is strategically positioned in the proposed URC area. Councillor John Merry, Leader of Salford City Council, believes the new regeneration company will “place more emphasis on coordination of existing programmes rather than seeking big new investment from public partners.” For further information:

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UCLan boosts graduate career prospects

Two key principles underpin the activities of the University of Central Lancashire - access and employability. These two dimensions of opportunity and career readiness single out the university as a notable contributor to regional prosperity.



Tunnel vision Design student Laura Ramsden with her ‘tunnel of thought’ display stand Peep show Astronomy students follow the ‘transit of Venus’ event

Providing access to higher education irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity and income is etched deeply in the UCLan psyche. So too is the pursuit of excellence. “We do not sacrifice excellence for access,” insists Vice-Chancellor Malcolm McVicar, “it would be a betrayal to do otherwise.” He’s equally bullish about UCLan’s record on preparing graduates for life in a fast-changing labour market. “We are very focused on giving our students and customers a competitive edge in terms of employability.” All courses have an employability strand built into them. The university is also unique in having a dedicated Centre for Employability, which works with course teams to develop and deliver specially tailored modules through the teaching programmes. Centre Head David Bagley defines employability as having a set of skills and attributes which gives students choice in the labour market - virtues like team working, presentation and communication. “We are not looking at it from the employer’s point of view,” he says. “We are trying to help people cope much better in the labour market.” The unit also offers its own modules covering such areas as career planning and starting a business. The latter module is becoming increasingly popular and there are over 200 students taking it across a range of courses. The Vice-Chancellor says the university has “a very high employment record” and claims the majority of graduates tend to stay in the Northwest. Of the 35,000 students enrolled on UCLan’s 430 teaching programmes, 16,000 are already in work and studying part-time to acquire skills and qualifications that will advance their careers. UCLan has a 176 year-old pedigree of preparing students for the world of work from its early days as the Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge and through its evolution as Harris College and Preston Polytechnic (1980). Now one of the biggest universities in England, UCLan is a major provider of higher education in both Lancashire and Cumbria, where it recently acquired Northumbria University’s Carlisle campus to add to its main campus in Preston and a smaller one in Penrith. Over 4,000 of its students study in partner colleges. The university’s economic impact on business and local communities cannot be overstated. With 2,500 staff it is one of the biggest employers in Preston and, together with the student spend, contributes £250 million a year into the local economy. UCLan is expected to play a pivotal role in unlocking the potential of Central Lancashire, one of eight ‘City Region’ growth nodes identified in The Northern Way Growth Strategy, an action plan to eliminate the prosperity gap between the North of England and the rest of the UK. Senior university figures already provide expertise and leadership on a number of regional bodies. Malcolm McVicar currently chairs the North West Universities Association and Deputy ViceChancellor Alan Roff chairs both the Lancashire West Partnership and Preston Strategic Partnership. The university is preparing for future expansion by investing in a number of new facilities. This year (2005) will see the completion of a new Students’ Union building, a £10 million Science block and a £9 million Health building. Health is an important specialism with many of the 3,500 students under training in the faculty destined for careers as nurses, midwives and paramedics. UCLan is also a leading research centre for stroke and the delivery of health care to ethnic groups. It is also a pacesetter in other research areas boasting centres of excellence in fields as diverse as fire and explosion studies, waste management, regional economic development and applied digital signal and image processing. Researchers are also doing a lot of work on non-destructive materials testing for the aerospace industry developing techniques that could have important applications in health care. “The cross fertilisation between one industry and another is a very interesting aspect of the work,” explains the Vice-Chancellor. For further information:

New era of partnership Universities and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) have agreed to establish closer links to accelerate the drive for greater regional prosperity. The move towards greater collaboration was formalised in September when NWDA Chief Executive Steven Broomhead and Malcolm McVicar, Chair of the North West Universities Association (NWUA), signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. The MoU joins two separate action plans into a single regional strategic framework, thus establishing a structure for future joint working and clarifying roles and responsibilities between the NWDA and the NWUA. One of the outcomes will be greater co-operation between the region’s higher education institutions (HEIs) and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) through the delivery of a regional action plan for the Northwest Objective 2 ERDF programme. The NWDA is already a major funding partner in a number of flagship campus projects with high economic potential. One of the latest is the £2.5 million CallNorthwest initiative at UCLan which aims to raise managerial and professional skill levels in the call centre industry. The new centre is the only one of its kind in the UK. Malcolm McVicar, UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor, stresses the value of call centres to the economy. “The view is that call centres can only survive in the UK if they offer high value, quality skills and specialisms. The new centre is one of the mechanisms we hope will help secure the industry’s future.”

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Overcoming the language barrier

Academy tonic for health recruitment

The Regional Language Network has launched a new course aimed at addressing a serious shortage of interpreters in the health sector.

High Street ‘shops’ offering advice and guidance on careers in the health service - similar to those staffed by the armed forces - could help the NHS in the Northwest to tackle recruitment on a region wide scale. That is the vision of Elaine Bowker, Executive Director of the Greater Merseyside Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who is already boosting recruitment via the innovative NHS Academy. The ‘virtual’ Academy, whose small team of staff work closely with mainly hospital trusts in the Merseyside area, offers preemployment training for careers in the NHS to the under 25s. Young people who would normally be excluded from NHS careers because of their lack of qualifications, follow Modern Apprenticeship programmes eventually leading to a wide variety of job opportunities in the health and social care sector or to further education. “The Academy operates on a brokerage model,” says Elaine. “We work with hospital trusts to decide what is needed, and then with colleges who can provide the appropriate training in a very flexible way.” Already more than 500 students have joined the cadet programme on courses linked to careers in nursing, social care and as paramedics. Carol Sutton, Director of HR and Workforce Strategy for the Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, says: “We hope the Academy will contribute significantly to preparing for our workforce of the future, ensuring that we have adequate numbers of well-trained applicants for jobs and professional training.” Another strand of the Academy, still in the early stages of development, is for a one-stop-shop approach to NHS recruitment advice. “It's my vision to have a shop on the High Street of every borough, just as the Army has done in the past, which can provide recruitment guidance,” says Elaine, Chair of the Northwest Health and Social Care Skills & Productivity Alliance. The Alliance, one of 19 established by Business Skills Northwest, the skills and business support arm of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), was set up with partners from across the region and from the regional representatives of key national bodies, to co-ordinate the many and diverse activities within the health and social care sector.


Clocking on Academy provides another career route in NHS


They encompass key strategic and funding partners including the NWDA, Learning & Skills Council, Business Link, Sector Skills Council, Jobcentre Plus, The NHS University (NHSU), Strategic Health Authorities and other key employer groups. An action plan, produced in April 2004, established skills priorities and an action programme. At present skills gaps vary across the Northwest. Cumbria and Lancashire, a huge sub-region without a medical school, is addressing the problem of recruiting consultants and GPs by using specialist registrars and GPs in their final year of training, allocated from the Department of Health. Cheshire and Merseyside’s strong international recruitment team has brought over nurses from Spain and India, doctors from Spain and Poland and dentists from Poland. The Northwest’s three Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) are responsible for the health of a population of around 6.8 million people. Cumbria and Lancashire is one of the UK’s largest SHAs geographically, an area covered by 13 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and ten acute, mental health and ambulance trusts. Cheshire and Merseyside has 15 PCTs, and 18 other trusts and Greater Manchester has 14 PCTs and 14 acute trusts. The NWDA has funded production of the action plan and is working with key partners at a strategic level to deal with issues such as matching skill requirements with Further Education provision.

Students on the year-long course, principally funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), who already have a sound working knowledge of English and another language, are working towards the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting. Dr Christine Sousa, manager of the Network says: “The shortage of nationally registered interpreters available to work in the health sector is extremely worrying.” “In the Northwest there are currently only 147 and many minority languages are not represented at all. This means that a non-English speaker in hospital could potentially struggle to communicate with the medical team - a huge risk in an emergency situation.” The 17 students on the first course, which began in October and includes some from refugee communities, speak a variety of languages including Arabic, Turkish, Hindi and French. Fran Hulbert, Director of the NWDA Skills Policy Group, says: “Encouraging people with language skills to take up positions in the health service is essential and this Diploma offers an excellent training development opportunity which will go a long way towards ensuring improved access to health services for the whole community.”

Factfile There are nearly 350,000 people working in the health and social care sector, according to a study by EKOS Consulting. Twenty professions provide 70% of the workforce with carers (58,285) and hospital nurses (56,608) the biggest single groups. Forecasts suggest that the NHS in the region will require 7,600 more doctors, nearly 28,000 nurses, 2,300 midwives, 1,000 more dentists and 2,000 hospital and health service managers from 2004-10 to cope with replacement and expansion needs.

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New drive to beat traffic congestion 1

The Highways Agency looks after

835 miles of motorway in the Northwest 1

Message received Electronic signage warns drivers not to hog the middle lane

Highways Agency planners and engineers are stepping up their efforts to ease the crippling congestion on the region’s major roads through a range of measures from motorway widening schemes to hi-tech information systems. The most significant impact on the motorway network over the next 12-18 months will be the introduction of a highly trained 300-strong team of traffic officers and support staff who will take over a number of tasks currently handled by the police. Drivers will begin to see the new Highways Agency Traffic Officers in their distinctive blue and yellow patrol vehicles on Greater Manchester’s motorways in Autumn 2005 before the service is rolled out across the rest of the region over the following six months. Their roles will include managing traffic flows, particularly at the scene of accidents, organising temporary closures, undertaking high visibility patrols and generally assisting the police. They have been empowered to stop and direct traffic but have no powers regarding traffic offences. They will be supported by a new £5 million control centre being built alongside the M6 between junctions 22 and 23 at Newton-le-Willows which will also monitor traffic conditions from Cheshire to Cumbria. David Grunwell, the Highways Agency’s Regional Operations Manager, is convinced the new officers will have a beneficial effect on road congestion and points to research showing that 25% of all congestion on the network is incident related. “The fact that we will be able to deploy dedicated traffic officers to clear these minor incidents should have a big impact on that level of congestion. It also has the knock on effect of freeing up police resources to concentrate on crime.” The National Audit Office which recently expressed concerns about the Highway Agency’s performance estimates that traffic gridlock on the national strategic network - motorways and trunks road - costs business £3 billion but the CBI estimates the total cost is nearer £20 billion over the whole road network. Congestion is regarded as a serious impediment to the region’s future prosperity and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) which has a prime role in delivering the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) is lobbying hard with other key partners for innovative solutions and major improvements to the network. The Highways Agency looks after 835 miles (1,345 km) of motorway and 319 miles (513 kms) of trunk road in the Northwest spending over £100 million a year on keeping the network in good order. It is working to improve journey times with a mix of road building and improvement schemes, better traffic management and developing ideas like carpool lanes. The region has some of the heaviest traffic flows in the country with over 200,000 vehicles a day using stretches of the M60 and M6. Two of the biggest schemes, the £102 million widening of a 7.4 km stretch of the M60 between Junctions 5-8, and the replacement of bearings on the M6 Thelwall Viaduct at a cost of £52 million are due for completion in 2005. Other road schemes costing over £400 million are in various stages of the planning and prioritisation process. Among the most advanced is the £103 million A57/A628 Mottram-Tintwistle bypass, which has been contracted to Mowlem plc under an innovative ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ scheme. For further information:

The midas touch Technology is proving an important weapon in the war on regional congestion. The latest high-tech advance, the MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detector and Automatic Signalling) system, is being rolled out on key stretches of the Northwest motorway network. The system provides motorists with continuously updated alerts on incidents, hazards and congestion via electronic roadside signs thus helping drivers to avoid holds-ups and reduce stress. Overnight work began in November to plug a 22 km section of the M6 between Junction 22 (Newton-le-Willows) and Junction 27 (Standish) into the MIDAS network. The £8.7 million scheme will be completed in 2006. The system is also being installed on stretches of the M60 at Salford and Stockport. David Grunwell says Highways Agency planners and engineers had pushed ‘long and hard’ over the last 10-15 years to get new technology installed with the result that the region now has 40-45% of the country’s stock of variable messaging signs. “We have not been good at keeping people well informed about what is happening on our motorways but the growing extent of the messaging infrastructure provides us with the opportunities to improve things.”

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Grand designs for the Lake District Visitors to the Lake District in 2005 will be able to enjoy the first benefits of an imaginative project to transform Britain’s most scenic playground into a 21st Century tourism destination with global appeal. This Spring will see the launch of a contact centre booking facility that will be able to integrate adventure activities such as climbing, sailing, fishing and cycling into a single package with accommodation. Also available online, Lakes Activity Breaks forms one part of a radical reshaping of the visitor experience that Cumbria Tourist Board (CTB) hopes will double tourism spend to £2 billion within ten years and dispel the ‘faded’ image perception of the Lakes as revealed in a major consumer research exercise. One of the boldest ideas to come out the Lake District Renaissance project is ‘Better than the Best’, a pilot scheme to lift the design and quality of visitor accommodation. CTB invited a group of Britain’s leading professional designers to produce design solutions for a wide spectrum of accommodation from youth hostels through to self-catering and country house hotels. The ideas and advice is being made available on a CD-ROM and on the web. The Board is also hoping to offer small grant assistance, typically in the £20,000-£30,000 range, to help with the makeover process. Richard Greenwood, CTB’s Director of Development, wants the design ideas to inspire all tourism businesses including attractions and exhibition places to aim for a better quality product. “The market is changing and we have to raise our game. People must be able to enjoy the same high standards of accommodation and service in the Lake District that they would experience in a City break to London or Barcelona.” The Lake District is one of the regional tourism industry’s ‘attack’ brands with Lake District Renaissance a ‘signature’ project within the 2003 tourism strategy. Five sub-regional tourist boards are implementing the strategy under the direction of the Northwest Tourism Forum, with core funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). This year will also see the formal launch of the Environmental Enhancement of Windermere and Bowness programme, another key piece in the Renaissance jigsaw. It is being driven by a partnership including the NWDA, CTB, the Lake District National Park Planning Authority and local councils. The two towns are tourist honey-pots but research has shown they project a shabby, tired image through years of under investment. They

also stand to suffer a drop in trade and popularity when the 10mph water speed limit is introduced on Windermere in April forcing some businesses to diversify. After wide consultation, Wakefield-based design consultants Spawforth Associates have produced a 25-year masterplan that when fully implemented will give the lakeside communities a physical attractiveness more in keeping with modern times. The plan identifies over 30 projects including new entrance and reception areas, park and ride facilities, redesigned public spaces, semi- pedestrianised streets, smarter shop fronts and better signage and street furniture.

People must be able to enjoy the same high standards of accommodation and service in the Lake District as they would experience in a City break to London or Barcelona. “We would like to apply similar principles to other towns and villages in Cumbria but we are starting where the need is greatest,” explains Richard Greenwood. “We have to establish standards and techniques that will be embraced by both businesses and residents.” CTB also want to set quality standards for the 34-strong network of tourist information centres (TICs) within Cumbria, the fourth strand of the Renaissance project. They are run by a variety of organisations and need to be linked more efficiently into the destination management process. Tourism officials are trying to spread best practice through a series of training events. They are also working with NWDA to pilot new style TIC facilities, possibly with a continental or alpine feel and linked to places like coffee shops. The first one could be in Keswick or Ambleside. For further information:

News The Waterhead, Ambleside

Chasing the wow factor Hoteliers are reporting a rise in bookings and popularity after responding to the quality challenge of Cumbria Tourist Board’s ‘Better than the Best’ scheme. At The Waterhead, Ambleside, £3.1 million has been invested in modernising and expanding the Victorian hotel in the past year moving it up from “a fairly tired” 28-bed two-star hotel to a four star 41-bed town house hotel. The hotel closed for six months and reopened in May 2004 with more bedrooms and a new look interior designed by Gareth Humphries of Derbyshire-based company IDA. The work was funded entirely by owners English Lakes Hotels with some marketing assistance from the NWDA. Hotel manager John Bennett says the ‘Better than the Best’ scheme was the catalyst for the investment. “The vast majority of rooms were fairly traditional and chintzy and we decided to go for a contemporary town house look, what our visitors now regard as the wow factor.” CTB hopes that many others will join the quality accommodation bandwagon. Five leading designers worked up a series of design solutions for properties as diverse as camping barns and mansions. Some of the ideas are aimed at winning a bigger sharer of the 20-30 age group market, including young couples and newly-weds. There was special emphasis on the use of local building materials to establish a Cumbrian look. Eric Robson, Chairman of Cumbria Tourist Board and presenter of Radio 4 ‘s Gardener’s Question Time, sums up the results of the four-month project on a CD that will have wide distribution within the industry. “Better than the Best demonstrates that by using professional design advice we can attract new visitors, profits can be improved and the Lake District can shed its faded image.”

We can attract new visitors, improve profits and shed the fading image of the Lake District.

Factfile Cumbria’s tourism industry is worth £1 billion and accounts for one in four jobs forthe sub-region. In 2003 the area welcomed 15.5 million tourists (28.9 million tourist days) with the average stay 2.5 days. CTB officials have noted seasonality changes with tourism becoming more of a year-round industry. July to September was the busiest period in 2003 with 33% followed by 28% in April-June, 22% in October December and 17 per cent in January-March. In the New Year the Board will launch a campaign to win a greater slice of the lucrative meetings and conference market, currently worth £90 million to the county. It aims to promote the Lake District’s unique collection of challenging outdoor activities.

The NWDA has teamed up with Manchester United in a collaborative marketing exercise resulting in the production of a new edition of the Rough Guide to Manchester and England’s Northwest. Copies will included in all corporate hospitality wallets for match at Old Trafford during the 2004/05 season... Peter Mearns, NWDA Director of Marketing, has been appointed to the Arts Council England, North West, whose role is to distribute money from the government and National Lottery to develop the arts throughout the country... England’s 188-mile coast-to-coast walk from St.Bees Head, Cumbria, to Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, finished runner-up in the search to find the Best 50 Walks in The World, ahead of treks to Everest Base Camp, the Inca Trail of Peru and the Great Wall of China... Cheshire and Warrington Tourism Board has launched a strategy to increase visitor spending to £1.5 billion by 2015, sustaining 27,000 jobs. Future campaign activity will focus on themes and key strengths including The Chester Experience, rural escape, family fun and culture and heritage... Artists Terry Eaton and Jem Waygood are the winners of Bolton’s ‘Spirit of Sport’ public art competition funded by the NWDA and the ERDF. Their design for an imposing 26-metre ‘trophy’ structure on De Havilland Way containing over 1,100 images of the town’s sporting idols will be completed by December 2005...

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Tourism awards showcase quality

A winning formula The Northwest will reinforce its status as a top international location for prestige events in 2005 by staging an imageboosting array of sporting, cultural and conference attractions. Events like the round-the-world Clipper 05-06 Race and key European events connected with the UK’s Presidency of the European Union in the latter half of the year are viewed as major opportunities to showcase the region. Starting and finishing in Liverpool, the Clipper yacht race is one of the regional highlights of the SeaBritain 2005 initiative, an extravaganza of maritime events being organised to mark the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s illustrious victory at Trafalgar. Liverpool City Council is sponsoring one of the ten-strong fleet of yachts competing in the gruelling 35,000-mile race. The boat, which sets sail on September 18, will be used to promote the city’s Capital of Culture 2008 status to a global audience. SeaBritain is expected to draw large numbers of visitors to the region and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is working with partners in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside on a programme of events that will celebrate the variety, history and grandeur of the region’s coastline and maritime heritage. Peter Mearns, NWDA Director of Marketing, wants to reach those people who would not normally visit the region. “If we can get them to touch and feel what the region has to offer and go away with a more positive view of the Northwest they will become our greatest ambassadors.” The Agency also intends to use the pulling power of the three day Grand National meeting at Aintree (April 7-9) and the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park (July 20-24) to further develop the region’s image. Over 150,000 people attended last year’s Aintree meeting and a record 113,000 visited the RHS event, which is now seen as the ‘Chelsea of the North.’ A £30 million investment programme is under way at Aintree to add more facilities including two new stands.

The NWDA with its partners is taking a more proactive approach to bidding for international events. This stance paid dividends in October when Manchester won the right to host the 9th FINA World Short Course (25m) Swimming Championships in 2008. The Agency is also supporting The Mersey Partnership’s bid to attract the World Snooker Championships - currently held in Sheffield - to Liverpool in 2006.

If we can get them to touch and feel what the region has to offer and go away with a more positive view of the Northwest they will become our greatest ambassadors Disabled athletes will serve up their own sporting spectacular much sooner when Manchester stages the first ever Paralympic World Cup on May 14 and 15 with funding support from UK Sport, Manchester City Council and the NWDA. BBC Television will be the host broadcaster of the event. 2005 will also be an notable year for conferences with the region winning several important events related to the UK’s Presidency of the EU. One is a Sports Ministers and Broadcasting Conference, the other a conference attended by EU Culture Ministers. Both will be held in Liverpool in September.


Whether it’s sailing on Ullswater, strolling along Blackpool’s Golden Mile or exploring Chester’s Roman remains, tourists to England’s Northwest are spoilt for choice. Winners of the first region-wide tourism awards reflected the quality and diversity of the area’s tourist attractions, which lure almost 150 million visitors every year. Their importance to the regional economy is undisputed. Latest figures show the industry contributes £7 billion, is the source of one in ten jobs and sustains 18,000 businesses. James Berresford, the NWDA’s Head of Tourism for the region, says: “As well as showcasing the very best the region has to offer, the awards also throw down a challenge to the industry to compete on the grounds of quality.” He says that in the competitive world of tourism, where easy access to international destinations drives visitors’ aspirations ever higher, there is “no scope for us to be complacent.” “We have to challenge the industry, and support it through our five new tourist boards who champion the cause of quality,” he says. “Tourism is worth a great deal to the region and we have to drive up productivity and quality.” The winners agree. Brian and Ann Murgatroyd, owners of the Seabreeze at Blackpool, voted Best Bed and Breakfast of the Year. “We have been here for less than five years, but already 60% of our guests are returners,” says Ann. “Everybody tells us they like our attention to detail - and our famous breakfasts.” Nigel Parkin, general manager of The Samling at Windermere, voted Best Small Hotel of the Year, says: “For the guests, our motto is that nothing is too much trouble, which will become more challenging as people expect the best. But behind the

scenes we have established a professional operation which we keep driving forward.” Karen Buchan, owner of Jasmine Cottage, Chester, voted Best Self Catering Holiday of the Year, is similarly committed to first class service. “My guests say that my housekeeping is exceptional - and that’s because I clean the property myself and I am always on call to help or sort out a problem.” Justin Grammer, marketing officer for Ullswater Steamers which won the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year accolade, says: “Although we have over 100,000 visitors a year, we work very closely with the community to manage those numbers, as well as being concerned about the environmental impact.” Felicity Goodey, Chair of the Tourism Forum for England’s Northwest, says: “We want more people to come here, spending more money, returning again and again because they’ve had such a good time. The Forum is responsible for raising the quality of what we offer our visitors and the awards show those visitors the kind of quality they will find here.” For further information:

England’s Northwest Tourism Awards 2004 Best Bed and Breakfast of the Year: Seabreeze, Blackpool

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year: Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria

Caravan Holiday Park of the Year: Camping & Caravan Club, Windermere, Cumbria

Tourism Website of the Year: World of Glass, St Helens, Merseyside

Self-Catering Holiday of the Year: Jasmine Cottage, Chester, Cheshire

Business Tourism Award: Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

Tourist Information Centre of the Year: Carlisle, Cumbria

Award for Excellent Customer Service in a Large Hotel: Express by Holiday Inn, Liverpool, Merseyside

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year: Ullswater Steamers, Cumbria

Small Hotel of the Year: The Samling, Windermere, Cumbria


Celebration time TV presenter Diane Oxberry with Best B&B winners Brian and Ann Murgatroyd

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Industry and Regions Minister Jacqui Smith has announced additional funding of £8.6 million for the NWDA in recognition of its achievements in 2003-04. During its five years existence the Agency has levered £1.8 billion to help boost employment, develop businesses and redevelop brownfield land... Ministers have announced a major expansion in the numbers of Community Support Officers being recruited to assist police fight low level crime and antisocial behaviour. Merseyside gets 85 extra officers, Greater Manchester 68, Lancashire 57, Cheshire 13 and Cumbria 12... Judge David Fletcher is to lead a pioneering community justice centre in north Liverpool to help tackle social problems such as vandalism, graffiti, petty theft and drunken behaviour. Located on the site of St Gerard’s School, Vauxhall, the centre is due to open in 2005... The conversion of two 1920s vintage motor launches on Lake Coniston to solar power is one of 300 projects being helped by the English National Parks Sustainable Development Fund. During its first 18 months the Fund has levered in £13 million of match funding...

Whitehall despatches NDA on track for April launch Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDC) is to be based at Westlakes Science and Technology Park at Moor Row, near Whitehaven, West Cumbria. The European Commission has started a State Aid investigation into the NDA but UK Energy Minister Mike O’Brien says the Authority is on track to become fully operational by April 1, 2005. The investigation relates only to the BNFL aspects of NDA activities. Established by the Energy Act 2004, the Authority has been given the responsibility for delivering the safe, cost effective, secure and environmentally friendly clean-up of the UK’s civil nuclear sites. It is expected to generate new economic opportunities across Cumbria and over 100 jobs.

Rural pathfinder for Lancashire Lancashire is one of seven areas of England chosen to act as pathfinders to test ways of improving access to advice and funding for people living in rural communities. The Government Office for the North West will work closely with lead partner Lancashire County Council, the NWDA, the voluntary sector and others on developing shared agreed action plans to tackle local priorities, targeting support based on need and helping the drive to make funding regimes simpler. The Lancashire pathfinder is expected to extend and deepen partnership activity developed over several years to integrate business and environmental advice in areas of valued landscape.

Event highlights

Jan 20

Jan 28

Northwest Economic Dinner with Mervyn King The year ahead by Bank of England Governor SAS Radisson, Manchester Airport

Cumberland News Countryside Awards Recognising excellence in the Cumbrian economy Shepherd’s Inn, Carlisle

Jan 31 - Feb 02

Feb 15

Feb 21

Feb 24

Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit The government’s premier regeneration event GMEX, Manchester

CBI Cumbria Dinner Guest speaker- John Roberts of United Utilities Castle Green Hotel, Kendal

Science & Innovation Event Follow-up to the successful DTI Living Innovation event University of Manchester

Art 05 Awards Spotlight on the best Northwest contemporary art Liverpool

Mar 02

Mar 08

Mar 16

Mar 26 - Apr 03

Greater Manchester Chamber Annual Dinner Guest speaker EU Commissioner, Chris Patten MICC, Manchester

Impact 05 Conference Business in the Community National Conference City of Manchester Stadium

Northern Way Business Conference Royal York Hotel, York

Chester Food & Drink Festival Demonstrations by celebrity chefs Marquee and various venues, Chester

Apr 07-09

Apr 12-13

Apr 14

May 14-15

Grand National Three-day festival of National Hunt racing Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool

Cumbria Learning Theme Park Interactive skills festival Newton Rigg Campus, Penrith

IoD North West Annual Dinner Speaker- Miles Templeman, DirectorGeneral, IoD Marriott Hotel, Liverpool

Paralympic World Cup Over 350 athletes contest four major sports Manchester

More money for pit communities Wards in Salford and Knowsley have become eligible for the first time for assistance from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which was set up by the government to restore prosperity to former coalfield communities. They join wards in Wigan, St. Helens and Copeland who could all benefit from an extra £35 million of aid announced by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to accelerate the economic revival of areas hit by pit closures. Swinton North and Little Hulton in Salford and the wards of Whiston South and Halewood East become eligible for Trust funding because they contain English Partnerships reclamation sites.

Social Inclusion awards Four projects are being established across the Northwest to help people with mental health conditions become self-employed, start a business or set up a social enterprise through mentoring, training, advice and hands-on support. Funded by the DTI’s £177 million Phoenix Fund which was set up to tackle social inclusion by encouraging entrepreneurship, the schemes will benefit people in Liverpool, St. Helens, Burnley and Rochdale for a total cost of £370,000. The Granby Toxteth Development Trust’s ‘Business for All’ project (£110,000) is expected to help 40 people with 10 going on to start their own business whilst the ‘INSPIRE’ project (£103,000), run by the St. Helens Chamber, will focus on social enterprises that can help the local economy. Other awards go to Rochdale & District Mind for its ‘Business Ideas In Mind’ initiative (£91,000) and Burnley Enterprise for the ‘Bees Knees’ project (£67,000).

Other key events February



Feb 11-13 Keswick Film Festival Keswick

Mar 02 City of Liverpool Business Fair St.George’s Hall, Liverpool

Apr 20-22 Rural Women’s Network Annual Conference Carlisle Racecourse

Mar 16 Big Difference Awards Crowne Plaza Hotel, Liverpool

For further information:

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The Northwest Regional Development Agency manages all operations from its Headquarters at:

Nurturing creative pioneers

We want to give children the chance to pursue their technical dreams, to change aspirations and their perception of science and technology. We want to invite thousands of children a year to the TIC, inspire them and give them a fantastic time. Paul Abbott is the Director and General Manager of the new Bolton Technical Innovation Centre - known as Bolton TIC which is the UK’s first junior incubator. After 20 years as a dedicated science and technology teacher, deeply concerned at the lack of incentive and opportunity for children to innovate, Paul conceived the idea of the TIC. This month (Jan 2005) the Centre will begin a year of trial programmes around space, flight, future energies and science and art, aimed at inspiring and encouraging the town’s 9 to 19-year-olds.

If we look back at the characters who have made a difference - Mr Rolls and Mr Royce who met at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, Sir Harry Kroto, the Nobel Laureate who grew up in Bolton, James Dyson, Richard Branson - we have to ask how they began. We would like to think that if a young Dyson or Branson knocks on our door at the TIC, we will be ready for them. We are not attempting to change education, but to occupy a new space between education and industry. Whatever we do will not damage either, but benefit both. There will never be a substitute for learning, but we want to give youngsters new opportunities to apply that learning. We want to nurture innovation in young people, give them the equipment to prototype their ideas, offer them business and legal advice. We want to build a community of creative pioneers. And this facility is for all schools in the town. When we completed special projects at my former school, it made no difference to the school down the road, let alone the town. And in fact league tables created more competition, so there was no incentive for schools to collaborate or think about the town as a whole. We think this is one reason why the TIC is special - it’s open to all and we’re trying to make a difference in the town of Bolton. If it’s a success, the model can be copied elsewhere.”

In addition, there are five area offices for the implementation of local activities as follows:

Designed by Creative Lynx Ltd CL/Jan 05/1218GM

“I always wanted to teach and I loved teaching. But as the pressure increased to drive up exam grades, I felt the creativity of youngsters was being stifled and there was less incentive to innovate. The love for learning was being lost, especially in science and technology. It is ironic that never before have we devoted so much of the curriculum to science, yet never before have we produced so few scientists. Did you know that over the last 100 years, 54% of all patents filed worldwide originated in Britain? But this figure must have fallen dramatically in the last ten years and I shudder to think what it will be in the future if we do not address the problem.

PO Box 37 Renaissance House Centre Park Warrington WA1 1XB Tel: +44 (0)1925 400 100 Fax: +44 (0)1925 400 400 e-mail:

Greater Manchester Giants Basin Potato Wharf Castlefield Manchester M3 4NB Tel: +44 (0)161 817 7400 Fax: +44 (0)161 831 7051

Cumbria Gillan Way Penrith 40 Business Park Penrith Cumbria CA11 9BP Tel: +44 (0)1768 867 294 Fax: +44 (0)1768 895 477

Merseyside Station House Mercury Court Tithebarn Street Liverpool L2 2QP Tel: +44 (0)1925 400 100 Fax: +44 (0)151 236 3731

Lancashire 13 Winckley Street Preston Lancashire PR1 2AA Tel: +44 (0)1772 206 000 Fax: +44 (0)1772 200 049

Cheshire Brew House Wilderspool Park Greenalls Avenue Warrington WA4 6HL Tel: +44 (0)1925 644 220 Fax: +44 (0)1925 644 222 Visit: &

Cover: Challenger Laser Matt is totally chlorine free and acquired only from suppliers operating sustainable forest reserves Text:

Cyclus Offset is manufactured using only 100% recycled post consumer waste

Indulge your good taste! England’s Northwest is a region with a passion for great food, quality produce, a range of top class restaurants, and leading chefs. From shopping for local specialities such as Lancashire Hotpot, Cumbrian air-dried ham, and Cheshire cheese, to fine dining at cosmopolitan restaurants in Manchester and Liverpool, England’s Northwest is home to a mouth-watering range of speciality foods as diverse as the region itself.

As one of the vital ingredients for successful tourism, the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is committed to ensuring the region’s food and drink sector has a prosperous future. As part of this support, the Agency is helping to spearhead a national campaign for Valentine’s Day to showcase the most romantic food, hotels, restaurants and events that our region has to offer - demonstrating that England’s Northwest is home to all the essential components for the perfect romantic formula. To find out more click on