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Great West launch: "Hounslow almost unrivalled in Europe"

Thu 18 April 2013, 3:56 pm

Hounslow Council welcomed an audience of more than 80 investors, developers, property and regeneration specialists to the launch of Great West magazine.

Brendon Walsh, Hounslow Council's director of regeneration, economic development and environment, at the Great West launch

The event, held at Lampton Park Conference Centre on 16 April, was organised by 3Fox International, publisher of Great West magazine.

Council leader Jagdish Sharma introduced John Fisher of the Local Futures consultancy, who presented the detailed findings of research into the economic position of 325 local authorities in England. On an aggregated score against a range of indicators, Hounslow is in fourth place for its economic performance.

Fisher said: "Hounslow benefits from high productivity among high-value, knowledge-intensive businesses. If this country has a Silicon Valley, it stretches from this part of west London to Reading and down to Bristol."

Presentation of the research findings was followed by a debate, chaired by Fisher, between Mary Harpley, chief executive of the London Borough of Hounslow, Ruth Cadbury, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning, Stephen Fry, Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, Simon Baugh of Heathrow Airport, Alan Holland of Segro and David Wheeldon of BSkyB.

Holland said: "As a property investment company, Segro has been investing in the borough since the 1930s. We’ve got about 200 businesses as our customers, who occupy space around the borough.

"It’s a great location for access to markets and customers, and where the borough sits in a greater London context is just extremely strong. When we’re looking to attract customers into our portfolio, Hounslow is a really strong location."

Wheeldon recalled that his company, BSkyB, started 24 years ago "in portakabins in a muddy field". He added: "Sky has grown rapidly and continued to invest, especially in this locality. We now employ 8,500 people in Osterley, a lot of whom are high-end, knowledge economy workers.

"What keeps our appetite to invest is that this part of the world has developed into a real centre for creative and technology industries – there is a TV, technology and creativity cluster of quality, international companies in our sector. As we invest more, we have great confidence that this is the right place to be."

Wheeldon continued: "We’ve just spent a quarter of a billion on our new state-of-the-art production facility with eight studios, that is cutting edge technology. We will spend the same again redeveloping that entire the campus and creating a real media centre.

"We want to open up the campus and say to partners – come and do business and maybe even co-locate with us. That has created a really healthy economic environment and creates the confidence to keep on investing."

Baugh, Heathrow’s director of media and public relations, said: "There is a symbiotic relationship between the airport and the business clusters that have grown up over the last 50 years – media and creative, pharmaceuticals and IT clusters running along the Thames Valley.

"That’s something that is very precious in Europe and is almost unrivalled – certainly in the UK – but also anywhere in Europe."

Fry, chief executive of Hounslow Chamber of commerce, said: "Hounslow is fourth out of 325 – you ask does it feel like that? Actually, it does.

"That is what is reflected across our membership – 10,000+ businesses in the borough generally feel that Hounslow is a good place to do business and they experience good business activism.

"We think that business is on the up – Hounslow has been and remains, a good place to do business in the SME market."

Councillor Harpley said: "This is very much the message of Great West magazine – lead members and senior staff in Hounslow are clear that we are open to job creation and working with people who are investing. We need the jobs you bring to the borough."

Toby Fox, managing director of 3Fox International, said: "This was a hugely successful event. Great West is our first magazine for Hounslow and it was extremely well-received.

"Last month, we arranged support for the Hounslow team to take the Great West message to a wider audience at MIPIM. The launch event this week showed the level of commitment among serious investors who really rate Hounslow.

"The format of the launch worked well and we are looking at how we might extend this and open it up to create greater opportunities for inward investment."

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