A Tale For Two Cities

October 19, 2009 at 8:47 am 2 comments

I was in Manchester recently for dinner with client colleagues. A very enjoyable experience. Great food, atmospheric restaurant and it was good to be back in one of the country’s best cities.

You may have just been stopped in your tracks. A Brummie praising Manchester- our historic nemesis. Yes I have. I like Manchester. I always have. I admire the way the city has developed into a progressive 21st century city and merged this ambition and indeed architecture with its Victorian heritage. I like the confidence of the city.
I admire the attitude of the Mancunian.

Regeneration schemes such as the Quays in Salford with Museums, retail and hotels is impressive. Of course, they have a proper water feature do this (even though it is a man made ship canal). A good stretch of water in which to focus development has always hindered Birmingham. Not withstanding Brindleyplace which has certainly maximized the canal.

As for the Mancunian confidence? That is perhaps explained by the fact they enjoy the added advantage of being a further 70 miles further away from London and can therefore avoid the dilemma of – do we look south or north for allies – as Birmingham can be accused of doing on occasions.

So, I refuse to be part of the argument about which is the country’s second city. (In marketing terms there are few occasions when you want to promote being second for anything!). I won’t participate in the debate around which is the better city. It is pointless. It is a futile argument.

Just as I will not get involved in the golfers debate about whether Nicklaus is greater than Woods. Or the fine dining aficionados arguing whether it’s Ramsay or Blanc as best chef.

These type of discussions, although perhaps occasionally good fun in which to hone your debating skills over a glass or two, are completely skewed by agenda, circumstances and therefore how you interpret the facts.

The fact here is clear and it is simple. Birmingham and Manchester are both great cities. Each has a significant part to play on a national level and in their respective regions. It takes to much wasted energy getting wound up about who is best and who should be home to this or that.

It is good to be competitive. It can be positive. It is good to benchmark. It is even better to acknowledge each others strengths and be collaborative. Isn’t the High Speed Rail 2 debate a classic case in point? Both cities will benefit significantly from this transport innovation. Not only with the dramatically improved speed in which both cities become connected to the capital but also to each other. A short commute from either city will be a reality. Good for both our regional economies. For sharing talent. For working together. So let take the case High Speed Rail 2 to Government together. Not clandestine separate meetings vying to out do each other and or to steal a march.

My recent trip and the conversation with clients whose businesses are based in the Manchester were genuinely surprised when I talked about the competitive attitude that exists in Brum towards the city up north. They don’t particularly reciprocate the feeling. They are proud of their city, its achievements and its potential and just get on with it.

Perhaps its time we lost this preoccupation about what Manchester may be or may be not doing and get on with our lives. Perhaps, for once, we should borrow a phrase that was made popular by one of the North West’s favourite sons Mr. Peter Kay- look for opportunities, keep focused and ‘ave it!

Tim Rudman is Client Services Director at Urban Communications.
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Entry filed under: Tim's Musings. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate Cooper  |  October 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve lived in Brum all my adult life – and was born and bred a Mancunian. Yup, I miss the city, its friendliness, its humour, its often argumentative voices . . . and its seemingly constant driizzle!

  • 2. Urban’s latest musings «  |  November 11, 2009 at 10:56 am

    […] A Tale for Two Cities: Urban director Tim shares his views following a recent visit to Birmingham’s so called  rival city, Manchester. […]


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