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Southampton needs to 'make its wishes come true' ahead of 50th anniversary of becoming a city
A FORMER Number 10 policy boss is today calling on Southampton to turn its 50 top wishes into a reality within seven years - to mark the city's 50th birthday.
TV presenter Fred Dinenage MBE will lead a number of workshops where delegates from regional business, local government and education will have the opportunity to share their ideas on key issues.
In his speech to be delivered this morning, Mr Taylor is frank about the city where he studied and began his political career.
He says: “Southampton's future is out there. It inhabits this city today.
“But, right now, it lies diffuse and dawdling. To be brought together and brought alive, it needs a catalyst.
“Despite the quality of so much that happens in this city - from Premiership football and test matches to the boat show, from world class university research to excellence in marine engineering - this is a city that rarely sets itself the aspiration of being the very best.
“In short, Southampton is a place that finds it hard to get excited about itself.”
But with Southampton celebrating its 50th anniversary of its city status next year, he is calling on organisations, institutions and firms to make 50 commitments - to be delivered by 2020.
Mr Taylor, who also held the highly influential role as chief adviser on strategy to the Prime Minister, now holds an equally eminent position.
He is the chief executive of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
But he credits Southampton as the place where he began his career.
He said: “I was delighted and honoured to be asked by the university, acting through the intermediary of my old friend John Denham, to speak on the subject of Southampton 2020.
“This city has a place in my heart. It was where I did my undergraduate degree and it was where I first became seriously involved in politics.”
The conference will be debating a range of important issues to help shape the city for future investment and prosperity at Vision for 2020.
Mr Taylor says the city is well connected with its roads, rail, port and airport and is located in a wealthy county, yet suffers poverty and low paid work.
He commends the Solent LEP for its economic vision of a fostering advanced marine related manufacturing, supporting small and medium sized firms as well as developing the city's cultural quarter.
But he believes Southampton lacks chutzpah of comparable places in the south.
He said: “If Brighton looked in the mirror I suspect it would wink cheekily at itself, Bristol might perform a song and dance, Portsmouth would flex its muscles and bare its teeth.
“But if Southampton looked in the mirror? I suspect it might simply shrug.”
By mobilising people to placing on the record what they want Southampton to achieve by 2020, he believes the city will achieve the sense of self-belief it currently lacks.
He suggests all those who have made commitments should then be invited to sign a book to be publicised and displayed prominently in the city.
This book of commitments would be the official memorial of the city of Southampton's 50 th anniversary.