Greater Manchester is adding its voice to calls for the UK to bid to host World Expo 2025.
Potential host countries
have until 31 October to put themselves forward, and Greater Manchester
Combined Authority is encouraging the government to seize the opportunity for a
global shop window to demonstrate that the UK is open for business and
committed to international trade following the referendum vote to leave the
European Union. It is more essential than ever that the nation's economy is rebalanced
with all regions supported to reach their full potential, increasing their
productivity and boosting the national income.
The World Expo, which now takes place every five years, is now larger in size, scale and duration – lasting six months – than any other global sporting and cultural event, including the Olympics and football World Cup.
It would offer UK trade and investment a boost at least comparable to the 2012 London Olympics, attracting up to 28 million visitors as well as exhibitors and would-be investors from around the world.
While the cost of hosting such an event is significant, in excess of £1 billion, it should be noted that previous World Expos have at least broken even through gate receipts and significant private sector contributions could be explored.
There is also potential to unlock much greater legacy benefits. The large site required, at least 100 hectares, could become a hub for new economic growth with a legacy of jobs, housing and investment in an ‘Expo City.’
Ashton Moss in Tameside has been identified as a suitable option in Greater Manchester to host the global event.
The 110-ha site is less than 10km from Manchester city centre and within 15km of Manchester airport and has been identified as a Greater Manchester economic priority.
While it is recognised that the location of Expo City within the UK may be the subject of a government-organised competition, Greater Manchester would welcome the opportunity to put forward a bid.
Tony Lloyd, interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It’s more important than ever that the UK takes it places on a world stage to compete for investment, exports and visitors. World Expo 2025 would be the perfect platform on which to do so and we believe Greater Manchester would offer an ideal option."
Sir Richard Leese, GMCA lead member for economic strategy, said: "The concept underlying the Northern Powerhouse, enabling the North to realise its potential and support the nation as a whole, is as much our strategy as the government's and it's important that they continue to show commitment to it. It has become an important identity internationally, crucial to our long term trade, growth and investment and World Expo 2025 could help the UK to build on this momentum.
"It is ambitious. But as the London Olympics, and the Manchester Commonwealth Games before them showed, tremendous economic and social benefits can flow from bold and concerted backing for a big idea."
Councillor Kieran Quinn, GMCA lead member for investment strategy and finance and leader of Tameside Council, said: “Hosting World Expo in the UK would touch the whole nation but we believe it would make sense to have it here, as part of the efforts to rebalance the national economy. We believe Greater Manchester, and Tameside, can make a compelling case to stage this hugely significant event and it can be a powerful ingredient in the drive to rebalance the nation’s economy.”