Wisbech 20/20 Vision Launch: Archant MD says challenges faced by port town are perhaps the biggest they have faced
16:09 29 January 2013
ARCHANT- publisher of the Wisbech Standard- hosted a breakfast today for 60 council leaders and dignitaries as a backdrop to the launch of Wisbech 20/20 Vision.
Johnny Hustler, managing director of Archant Anglia, delivered a key note address in which he described as “fantastic that there is a long term planning process to look at the future of Wisbech.
“I am amazed at how frequently that does not happen.”
Mr Hustler’s speech was heard by an audience at Wisbech Boathouse that included Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke, Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, and Cabinet members of both councils.
Chief officers from both councils together with town councillors, business leaders and chamber of commerce delegates were also among those present for the Wisbech 20/20 Vision launch.
“It strikes me that Wisbech is a pretty resourceful place,” said Mr Hustler. “If you look back over history you have had more challenges than most. You’ve got a river for a start that hasn’t exactly behaved itself and the port has been frequently silted up. “Wisbech has had more floods than most, more plagues than most and every time Wisbech has bounced back.
“More lately, the outsourcing of global logistics has changed the role of your port completely but it has bounced back. So it strikes me as a pretty resourceful lot.”
He told his audience: “The challenges you face now are perhaps the biggest Wisbech has ever faced. The question is how Wisbech can be relevant in a modern world, dominated by satellite television and Premier League football.
“I’m talking about localness. How can you make it an advantage to you rather than be seen as a drawback?
“There are huge parallels to Archant, which owns lots of brands up and down the country and, I suppose, had greater challenges than Wisbech with the digital revolution.
“We started off with a grand vision to cajole our consumers to do what we wanted but decided that consumers can consume our content however they wish – whether that’s via tablet, Internet or in the newspaper.
“The thing we have learned from this big question about localness is that it means different things to different people.”
Mr Hustler said: “My advice would be don’t force the single vision – think smaller, but do lots of it. Every group of your consumers, your business people will all want different things.
“A good vision comprises of a lot of different small things. The cyclists who come to enjoy the broad views won’t be pleased with the prospect of free parking and engineering companies won’t be impressed by superfast broadband if they cannot employ anyone in the local area. But you know all this; you’ve done all this work.
“Whatever your vision contains, whatever needs to be done, I absolutely commit the services and back-up of our newspaper brands and all that goes with them.
“It is important to Wisbech that this vision works. It’s essential to firms like us because if Wisbech flounders, so do we.
“So good luck in whatever you do. We will do everything we can to help.”
Mr Hustler had been introduced by Wisbech Standard Editor John Elworthy who explained how the paper had, from its inception, supported the 20/20 regeneration vision.
“Our community, Wisbech, is too important to be left to chance; too in need of TLC, too wanting of investment, energised commitment, infrastructure and improvement to be left either to fate or chance,” he said.
“That is why we welcome you all here today to begin the process of seizing the moment, seizing the hour, grappling with possibilities and creating probabilities and certainties. “
Mr Elworthy added: “Journalists like me are not perfect, do not pretend to be nor actually would want to be.
“And should a veneer of vanity get in our way then I would argue we’ve failed.
“But to the accusation that I’m passionate I plead guilty.
To the assertion that the Wisbech Standard is possessed of an attitude I likewise plead guilty.
“And to the proposition that we believe that Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, and Wisbech Town Council – and others- are possessed of serious intent, values and purpose in unveiling Wisbech 20/20 Vision as a meaningful endeavour then I plead guilty too. “