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Liverpool fails to Shanghai Manchester elite

2009. 27 April

By Simon Binns

( Leading political and business figures from Manchester and Salford are showing little interest in helping Liverpool represent the North West at a trade exhibition in China.

They were invited by Liverpool City Council and regeneration company Liverpool Vision to the launch of a prospectus for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

It is the only UK city taking a dedicated pavilion at the event, which will attract a global audience.

Seventeen organisations based in Greater Manchester were invited - including Manchester City Council, Central Salford URC, Manchester and Salford Universities and private sector developers like Bruntwood, Urban Splash and Peel Holdings — but the only one to send a representative was inward investment agency Midas.

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council; Lord Peter Smith, in his capacity as AGMA chair; Eddie Smith, chief executive of New East Manchester, and Felicity Goodey, chairman of Central Salford URC, all had more pressing engagements elsewhere.

Four representatives of UK Trade and Industry, based at Trafford Park, also declined their invitations.

A spokesman for the Liverpool Pavilion at the World Expo said the organisers were not disappointed.

“The launch was the start of the process,” he said. “The more organisations throughout the region that understand the opportunities the Expo can generate for them the better.

“We have already held discussions with a number of organisations which have a substantial Manchester presence and it is clear that there is significant interest in some quarters.

“Liverpool will be deliberately positioned at the Expo as the gateway to the North West so its pavilion will showcase the assets of the entire region, both as a student and tourist destination and as a potential source of invaluable commercial relationships.

“Our business plan clearly indicates our presence at the Expo will deliver significant economic benefits to the region and we would urge businesses and other organisations to seize this opportunity.”

Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood, said his non-attendance was down to “congested diaries”, describing the Expo as “valuable” to Manchester firms.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which is funding Liverpool's participation in the event with a £1.25m grant, encouraged businesses across the region to “grasp the opportunity” of trade in China.

“One of the NWDA's key priorities is to develop the international competitiveness of the region,” he said.

“I would urge businesses throughout the North West to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to gain a foothold in the burgeoning Chinese marketplace.

“The event provides an opportunity to present the whole of the region's assets and opportunities to this audience rather than solely those of the city or city region.”