Cod In The Mersey

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Colin Sinclair is director of workspace at Bruntwood. Having managed bands on international record labels he now leads the Liverpool office of one of the UK’s largest property firms. @colindsinclair
I RECENTLY discovered an intriguing fact about Liverpool that I think encapsulates how the city has reversed negative perceptions and created a platform for future prosperity. You can catch cod in the Mersey. Ok, so it’s not quite mermaids, but it’s still pretty impressive. As the countless Mersey anglers will testify, these are not occasional minnows, but high volumes of fish large enough to feed a family. For centuries the Mersey was the lifeblood of the city, bringing trade and opportunity and creating the world’s largest port. Its changing fortunes are tied to those of the city itself and, as traditional industry and trade began to die by the late 1970s, so did the river. By that point, very little worked as it should and there wasn’t exactly a clamour to come here.  Lord Heseltine often recalls a moment in his Atlantic Tower hotel room, where he looked out to the lifeless river and questioned “what have we done to you?” 25 years on, it couldn’t be more different. Not only is the river bringing tourism and trade back to Liverpool on cruise ships and super tankers, but it’s also adding directly to the social regeneration of the area. I doubt ACC Liverpool or Liverpool One would exist if the vista were a toxic sludge. I’m sure our cod reserves would surprise many from outside the city but that’s probably the case across most aspects of Liverpool’s renaissance. Plenty of people know about it, but many more still do not, so it’s important we remain bold and take full advantage of initiatives like MIPIM and the International Festival for Business. When IFB returns in 2016, let’s hope Mersey fish and chips is on the menu. Let’s create a cycle-safe Liverpool Cycling to work in Liverpool, like most regional cities, can often feel like playing Russian Roulette with your own life. Rather than complain about it, I think it presents us with an opportunity to do something very special and create Britain’s safest city for bike commuters. Those of us who commute to work by bike do it for all kinds of reasons, whether it’s fitness, training, saving money or helping the environment. What we each have in common is the daily battle with cars, buses and trucks; a struggle compounded by the wholly inadequate space we’re given on the roads. The city’s cycle lanes are simply not fit for purpose (as John Farrell’s research demonstrated) and in many cases they either don’t exist or simply disappear without notice. Cycle paths are often incomplete, disjointed, poorly surfaced or covered in broken glass and debris. Advanced stop lines are ignored, while junctions and traffic lights aren’t designed to help cyclists set off safely.  Every day we are dicing with death. So perhaps the solution is to pull together and lend our weight to the work of the Liverpool Cycle Forum, Liverpool City Council and Merseytravel. All good office developments now have bicycle stores and showers and I’m sure we all welcome increased cycle parking, more racks, the city bike scheme, bike crime prevention and other such initiatives. However, what we really need is more space on the roads so that we may cycle safely to work come rain or shine, summer or winter, night or day. Let’s speak with a shared voice and make Liverpool Britain’s safest cycling city. The future for start-ups Many successful businesses prosper on similar foundations – a focussed team, favourable environment, dynamic energy and a strong local network. A phrase currently on the lips of many small and start-up businesses, not to mention some of my colleagues in the commercial property sector, is “co-working”. Co-working has become popular in the United States over recent years, especially with digital nomads and creative wanderers, and involves a cluster of entrepreneurs occupying a shared office space and other communal facilities. Taking this route gives businesses an eco-system in which to test the water, explore their potential and develop alongside peers while enjoying benefits well beyond homeworking or a cafe. Some businesses actively foster a sense of community, while others like to cohabit without collusion. Whichever approach they take, there’s little doubt that co-working is a great solution for all sorts of entrepreneurs with a highly flexible need for office space.