What makes our place?

What makes place?

Working at Thomas Jardine & Co we find the understanding of what makes our place is key to successful collaboration.  Words are really important when we are talking about our place. “Our place” is such an emotive phrase.  It hints of a sense of belonging , of a shared cultural experience, a shared history BUT the phrase is so transient.  Place is all about collaborations, collaboration is what makes a place great BUT this collaboration has to have a focus.

Governing our place

Government constantly tries to define national and local place boundaries. Based in the City of Carlisle we are part of the County Cumbria and the Cumbrian LEP.  This is at the northern edge of the Northern Power House at the North of England.  Carlisle is also in the centre of Borderlands a Growth Deal covering 10% of the UK land mass cutting across the English/Scottish Borders.  We are just North of the Lake District ( a World Heritage Site) and at the Western End of Hadrians Wall (another World Heritage Site).

Tasting place

Slight differences in food help define place. Ian Gregg shared his story ( at a LA23 event) of how stotties were fundamental in the early growth of Greggs in the North East.  The food and drink  folk we work with in This is Cumbria all add magnificently to the flavour of our place. The food created by the terroir of a place is as important as the visible countryside. Realisation of this is  leading  to  local restaurants, cafes and wholesalers  stocking more locally sourced food so that we can experience local flavour.

Family Business and place

Jacqui’s work with family businesses based in our place always shows how important their pace is to their business.  A family businesses sense of place is rarely defined by government boundaries.  It is defined by the location of the family, its employees and its suppliers.  Often this starts with the town where the business was founded.  Then their place expands to the region it supplies  and onto the national market it is involved in.

The evolution of devolution

Political power in the UK is been devolved from the capital city. Not just to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but also to the regions.

At the second Borderlands conference we heard a variety of council leaders and council chief executives present the progress of Borderlands.  The collaboration of five counties across two countries with differing political leaderships has put our region on the devolution map. Carlisle, Cumbria and Northumbria are not just the northern most counties in the Northern Powerhouse.  They are now key partners in a region that covers 10% of the UK landmass. Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway are not just the southern most rural regions of Scotland.  They are now key partners in a region of 1.1 million residents.

Clearly collaboration across councils gives them more political power.  The City of Carlisle benefits from regional focus. Collaboration leads to Henri Murison support of the HS2 extension to Carlisle as part of the Northern Powerhouses transport strategy. Projects across Borderlands will get capital support from England and Scotland.  The support might not have come if the projects just had support from the location in which they were based.

Collaboration across place

The private sector is used to collaborating.  This is Cumbria was born from a group of like minded businesses. The Guild coworking space is built around people supporting each other.  Thomas Jardine & Co are working with Be the Business and others to improve productivity works because we all realise how important increasing productivity is to our places future.  At the Borderlands conference Peter Jackson of Northumbria County Council recognised the pivotal role of the private sector and each of the Borderlands councils will have an Economic Forum with two private sector members who will ensure this voice is heard.

Hopefully Borderlands will focus on collaborating to ensure our places infrastructure is fit for the 21st century.  It would be ideal if the private sector steers the public sector on the capital projects. Our needs of our individual place can sometimes clash with our needs of our regional place.  We all have to ensure we get the best fit for both these places.

We make our place

Wherever you are in the UK think about what makes your place.  It is not just the political boundaries that define us.  We often belong to more than one place.  This makes everyone’s place unique.  So don’t just rely on the public sector to define our place.  Collaborate and make your place better still.


Big fish little pond or small fish big pond?

Defining your local place is never easy especially when you come to setting a border where everything beyond is not local…. Think about the political boundaries that already exist from parish to local councils to counties to countries. All these political boundaries have an impact on your place. To fix the impact of these areas our politicians simply invent new areas our city fish (Carlisle) will see impacts from the new ‘ponds’ created from BREXIT to devolution to the LEPs to Northern Powerhouse to Borderlands and I am sure yours will be the same.

All these areas seek to redefine the pond in which our city fish swim, in some cases we (Carlisle) are bigger than one pond (parish councils) in others we are still a relatively large fish (Borderlands) and in others we start to feel like minnows (Northern Powerhouse).

The question I think we all need to ask ourselves is “do we treat the smaller fish in our pond in a way that we would want the larger fish to treat us?”. At one end of the ‘pond spectrum’ is the totally equitable approach to place management where every fish gets the same share of the collective food bank. At the other end is the idea that the pond needs to feed the big fish so that it can protect the smaller fish from any large fish from neighbouring ponds. Do you feel yourself moving towards the equitable argument when your in a really large pond and towards the support the big fish argument when you’re in a small pond?

I know it’s more complicated than that. Projects aimed at social change are arguably better based as close to the end user as possible so for instance, drop in centres and community spaces all need to be spread across the pond. Whilst funded capital projects concentrated on one or two projects could arguably create anchors that would attract either visitors or employers to an area. This was certainly the argument back in the day of anchor stores for high streets or anchor multinational firms for industry strategy , times are changing as I heard at a meeting recently “ one large factory does not a local economy make” and the prospect of House of Fraser leaving our High Street demonstrates the lack of control your local area has over national retail chains. Having said that, focused action that is directly linked to your local area can have huge impact on your place, from May-July we were fortunate enough to host the ‘weeping window’ poppy display that poured over our castle keep and this has definitely increased the number of visitors to our area. The display originally set up at the Tower of London has toured the country for the last four years and Carlisle Castles connection as a recruitment base during the First World War meant we were fortunate enough to be one of the hosts for this magnificent thought provoking display.

As we all negotiate our share of the pond perhaps we should reflect the reason for the poppy display. The display in Carlisle is there because of the 23,000 recruits who passed through the castle during the First World War, 7,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice and died defending their pond. When those running the pond get it wrong, it’s often the fish that pay the price.

So the next time you feel like a fish in a pond , ask yourself :are you allowing enough of a share for your smaller neighbours and are you also supporting your bigger neighbours as they stand up for your pond.

 


Borderlands Conference

 

 

This is a brief summary of our take out from the Borderlands Conference held in Dumfries on the 18th June. The summary is mainly made up as a collage of comments from speakers, facilitators, businesses, local councillors (from Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries& Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders), politicians and public sector officers. We have deliberately not attributed any of the comments as this is about the Borderlands Collective Voice…

Please let us know if you think we captured the day ….comments

Background

Set up to bid for national funds and distribute these funds across the Borderlands area into capital projects.  These should “encourage sustainable growth for the benefit of business and the local community”.

This should be a “transformative project” , “driving inclusive growth”…..”looking for the ‘big ticket idea’”…”this has included talking to 26 local towns”

So we need to know “what needs to happen and how are we going to do it?”

Which leads to three key questions :

Intent?

“Aims are connectivity, growth of sectors (tourism, farming and energy) and deal with population decline (especially in the youth).  Do this by collecting the perspectives of local people and businesses.” This will allow us to realise the potential we have.

“The UK economy is currently unbalanced and Borderlands is the opportunity to rebalance it”

Ingredients?

““Once in a generation” opportunity for change” .  As mentioned on the day “businesses who don’t shout don’t get” and “we (public sector) must put up or shut up”.  A desire to create a “system that removes barriers to growth” and then “encourage distributive transformation”.

The main ingredients we have to use are our “natural and social assets held in the area.”

Pragmatic solutions?

Need to “move away from the top down view of regional support where funding money creates regional growth”.  Because “one big tyre factory does not an economy make”

“Try not to focus solely on the traditional sectors connected with rural areas (tourism, farming and energy)”.  Remember that nowadays there is a “huge amount of crossover in sectors” . So for example   “Food is absolutely a key” because in this region it moves from production to wholesale to retail to hospitality and marketing and covers all business size and ambition.  Another sector with cross cutting themes would be cycling that straddles the border from the Lakes to the 7 Stanes and all the road routes in the region.

Borderlands will be “the first area focused development solution as opposed to a city focused solution.” This means “positivity is key” and the work in Borderlands should “influence a fundamental national review of the planning regime” and “legislation must support the changing needs of communities”.

So Borderlands will “work with businesses that are willing to look outside of the box” “to develop solutions for todays non urban communities”. Uniquely this will mean working in “two regions linked to each other through common history that over time has formed stronger bonds across the border than to their respective national governments.”

Borderlands should use the “capital funding to support economically sustainable projects that look to the future and these will work if they are built around collaborative partnerships with a focus on the long term”. This will be a “10-20 year project to change Borderlands, the challenge is to have the ambition set and not led by short term political aims, it is down to each of us not to let this happen.”

What will good look like?

The hope is that in 20 years time Borderlands will have delivered “pride in place”, “equitable skills” “measurable social and economic gains” and “allowed us all to have input into the area”