Last night I was at an Urban Land Institute Dinner in Nottingham with a select group of Nottingham folk. The discussion was around ‘Sustainable Economic Development & Inward Investment and ‘creating a competitive advantage’ for Nottingham. The ULI is an old organisation – set up in the 1930’s in America. It aims to connect, share and learn – about places. It shares the good and the bad.
The event was held under Chatham House Rules – so I can’t divulge the full details. However, it was a fairly robust and challenging discussion.
My views are fairly well known about Nottingham now. I think we don’t punch above our weight. I think we under-achieve. And to some extent I’m of this view because I believe that we have got bogged down in small minded politics. We do have some good things – and there are good things in the pipeline. But I’m restless about where we are going. I worry that we are slipping back.
I travel around a lot and I see other places pushing forward. Nottingham has to find itself again. There is a rich seam of talent here – and that needs to be given a voice and an outlet.
We are going to arrange another Nottingham based Dinner as the follow up is all important.
What became clear at the end of the two hour session were that there were some themes that people were passionate about:
1. Nottingham needs a story. Be it Robin Hood or sustainability or that we are easy to deal with. Our identity his not clear.
2. The power of education is all. Our Universities and Colleges are critical to the success of the city now and into the future
3. Sustainability is a given – but must pervade everything the City does.
4. Retail is king – we must keep improving and the Broad Marsh / Victoria Centre debate needs to be resolved.
5. Jobs and social cohesiveness will become more important. We have to head off the riots and disenchantment.
I look forward to the next Dinner. Hopefully some good will come from this – and all of Nottingham can benefit.