Jet-setting – by rail

I’ve just returned (eventually) from Brussels where I was speaking at the European Commission.

I was there to address a meeting of the Pan European PURPLE Network, speaking alongside colleagues from France and the Netherlands.

The PURPLE group aims to develop policies for what are known as Peri-Urban regions (which put the “P” and “U” in PURPLE).

The definition of peri-urban could be “somewhere like Staffordshire”. We have a large population of almost a million people. But we have no large urban centres with a population of over 100,000, but our economy both benefits from and is challenged by the proximity of big cities like Birmingham and Manchester.

My message was really that national and international planers and policy makers really need to address issues that affect peri-urban areas and ignore them at their peril – giving them a proper name would be a good start.

 The full text of my speech will go on the PURPLE website at:

Getting out to Brussels on the Eurostar was a doddle, but getting back wasn’t. My train leaving Belgium was delayed by 20 minutes which meant I missed my connection in London. I eventually got on a train for Wolverhampton and landed home at 2.30am. Just time for a nap before an 8am meeting in Stafford then jumping on another train to Birmingham.

Today I’m going to London – it’s my day a month representing the West Midlands at the LG Group Executive. Another day on the train.

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