Salford is about to experience an invasion of the white-collar variety as thousands of media professionals are being relocated from London to the newly built Media City on the banks of the Manchester ship canal.
Developers are happy, councillors are happy and business owners are delighted at the prospect of £1billion being injected into the economy over the next 5 years. But not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of the BBC having a serious presence outside of London. Plenty of staff that work for departments affected by the move, which includes BBC Sport, BBC Children’s, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Research have expressed concerns and reluctance about the prospect of relocating to the ‘grim north’. Peel Holdings, the developers of the Media City site, have even produced a relocation guide to try to ease some of their concerns.
It seems churlish that Manchester and Salford are being treated with an air of uncertainty, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if Peel Holdings had chosen the tag line ‘It’s not as bad as you think’ to advertise the area, BBC employees based in London are filled with dread at the idea of having to integrate with the local savages, and the home security sector is expecting a bumper year in 2012.
Many senior figures in the BBC need to change their outlook, being based outside of a nation’s capital need not be a hindrance to success; in fact many second cities around the world have built a reputation on attracting market leaders within a particular sector. Los Angeles houses the American Film industry, Milan has a virtual monopoly on the Italian fashion scene, Barcelona is the main tourist city in Spain and Hamburg is the media capital of Germany.
I admire the vision and commitment of those involved in trying to make Manchester (or specifically Salford) synonymous with world-class broadcasting and journalism. The city retains its association with the Industrial revolution and its textile industry, which formed the basis for Manchester’s growth in the 19th Century – lets hope that in years to come, the media revolution will be credited for stimulating a similar golden era in the 21st Century.