Regeneration 2: reasons to be a little more cheerful

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Do you know what I’m doing at 8 30 on Monday morning? It’s the coolest thing ever – I’m turning on a tap and do you know what’s going to come out of my tap?

So this tap is going to be turned on and the temperature of the water that’s coming out will be 187 degrees centigrade. That water is going to heat the whole of the Eden Project it is going to enable us to breed tons and tons and tons of prawns, algae and seaweed.

Why are we doing this? Because we know that all of us need some people who are doing exciting stuff which makes us look smart.  

We have put £2.2 billion into the Cornish economy. We’re not purist – we mess up like everybody else. But we do know, though, that to get lots and lots of people to come to a place like Cornwall, it’s got to be a bit ooh and a bit arr, hasn’t it?

It’s needs to be a bit rock and roll. You’ve got to be just on the right edge of science, but if people are on the wrong side of science, then you can cause them terminal shock because they’re so boring.

No, what we all need, isn’t it, is that you look at really crap places and you say: ’go on! Bring it on – give me your poison!’

That’s why we’re working in Morecambe. Morecambe’s community hall was built in 1868. And between 1868 and last year, at no time ever had all its elected officials been in the same room together at the same time – until we talked about Eden Morecambe.

When Lancashire County Council had our planning application put in, I wonder whether you could guess how many objecions we had? How is it possible that a project of over £100 million built on the seafront next to a listed building could have no objectors? – zero!

The reason is that the people in Morecambe were waking up to the idea that maybe we don’t need some of the cloud. Maybe when we lift up our eyes, we see the Lake District. Maybe we see weather systems forming – maybe we see the currents coming into the speed faster than the racehorse can gather.

Maybe – just maybe – these guys are speaking the truth. Maybe they will create co-operatives with the farms in the hillsides and make sure that every damn piece of food that is eaten in that place will be produced locally.

Maybe they believe it because they see that it happened in Cornwall, that the jobs will not haemorrhage out of Morecambe – that they will all be people in Morecambe trained, because we start on time and we’ll be opening in 2025/6.

I do get angry with the what I perceive to be the lazy establishment, regardless of which political party is in power. If Isambard KIngdom Brunel was alive he would just be aghast at the lack of ambition we have. 

I think we need to learn to raise our eyes to a distant horizon. I think, collectively, we’re suffering from almost a group PTSD.

What on earth are we going through in our political world, when all of the things that we think are actually noble and aspirational and potentially deliverable, are being made as if we have a dirty secret that we can’t actually live up to those aspirations?

You know what one of the really interesting things is that, if I gave you each piece of paper in a pen and I asked you to write down the names of the three people that other people might have heard of that you really admire, I would bet my life that the majority of the people on that list will have something in common.

You know what it’ll be? That they’re not for sale.

They will be people who believe in things and, whether you believe in what they believe in or not, you trust that they do believe that. Which is strangely comforting too – even if they’re maniacal – because there are so many good things.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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