Spurred on by a two-part BBC series hosted by Evan Davis called ‘Mind The Gap: London Vs The Rest’ I recently wrote a blog that looked at the widening gap between London and other UK cities and concluded that it wasn’t actually as bad as reported (well certainly not here in Manchester). Now in a well-timed interview with MEN (the day before the second episode aired), Evan’s been causing further controversy by arguing that Salford and Trafford should re-name themselves as Manchester.
Davis ascertains that the BBC should say that it’s based in Manchester rather than Salford in a bid to boost the area’s international reputation. He references that Salford has both a 0161 phone code and an M postcode and should follow in the footsteps of the re-branded University of Salford to include Manchester in its name. (If we’re honest, most people who live and work at the BBC describe it as Manchester rather than Salford but that’s beside the point). He goes on to say that the north should forge a ‘mega-city’ that links the hubs of Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds together with other areas becoming spokes.
I don’t agree with Davis, and back Salford’s mayor, Ian Stewart, on this one, who argues that the regions’ strength lies in its diversity. If foreign investors want access to the country’s financial markets then yes, of course, London is the place to be, but for those looking to access best the country has to offer in a niche vertical then it needs to look to the regions – Cambridge for R&D, the M4 corridor for technology, Manchester for media and so on. By encouraging and developing skills in distinct markets and geographies we build infrastructures and environments that support companies’ and individuals’ needs. This in turn attracts the best talent, the best companies and the right investment.