RUSSELL Taylor Group chairman Peter Russell is championing a move to put local labour as top focus of multi-million pound regeneration plans for Birkenhead.
Following a high level meeting of business leaders at his company’s Bromborough national headquarters on Riverside Park, Peter said key to making the area’s revival plans a reality was strong partnerships and collaboration between employers, educationalists and training organisations to create a vibrant economy driven by a local workforce.
He said: “Commitment to ‘buying local’ needs to be our main focus to see these ambitious regeneration projects come to fruition. That means hiring, training and developing the borough’s own people to ensure there is a continuous supply of skills and labour to turn around the fortunes of Birkenhead.”
Wirral Growth Company, a joint venture between Wirral Council and urban regeneration company Muse Developments, is already working on the first phase of regeneration plans for Birkenhead town centre which will include the construction of a new market, office space for up to 2,000 workers, a new leisure centre and cinema.
The Wirral Waters project is being designed to transform Birkenhead and Wallasey Docks with the construction of 800 apartments in converted grain warehouses and, to service them, the creation nearby of Egerton Village with its mix of retail, restaurants, leisure outlets and office accommodation.
A feasibility study is also in the pipeline for the Hoylake Golf Development, a venture which would turn a 260-acre site adjacent to Royal Liverpool Golf Club into a Jack Nicklaus-designed championship standard 18-hole golf course, four-star hotel and spa and municipal golf course along with 160 new executive houses and apartments.
During the event, organised by Wirral Chamber of Commerce, the leader of Wirral Council, Phil Davies, told businesses that 60 per cent local input to deliver the projects was the target being aimed for in a bid to tackle the area’s skills gaps.
He said: “Wirral is set to benefit from landmark developments that will bring investment, jobs and prosperity. It is extremely important that we are all prepared for the opportunities that will arise so we can maximise the benefits for our local economy and communities.
“After years of planning and hard work behind the scenes, we are now entering a very exciting era as we begin to see the fruits of that labour so it is essential that we take every opportunity to actively engage with the business community to make these plans happen.”
Peter Russell (pictured) added: “The vision and redevelopment ideas to put this area firmly on the map will create thousands of jobs over the coming years.
“Pulling together to change the current Birkenhead image as a place of deprivation with the lowest national average incomes can be changed by planning now to put top priority on providing a local, highly-skilled workforce to fill these jobs.”