All gigged out? -never!

It has been a great week for music! Two gigs over two nights.

My son Jack, daughter Jade, Cameron Hannah, Grant Nicholas and Matt Hannah

The first at Rock City in Nottingham on Wednesday to see Reel Big Fish. I went as my son wanted to see them – and they were brilliant!

But then last night we went to the O2 Arena in Birmingham to see Renegade (a Feeder project!). It was a tiny venue – 350 people. They played for an hour and the set list was their new album – save for a couple of ‘covers’. The latter were Feeder songs.

The music was as promised – raw, loud and energetic! It was great – and what live music should be! Although we only knew a handful of songs, it was still engaging. Some of the music has an anthemic feel already.

It was great to meet the band after the show – they were happy signing fans autographs / bodyparts (!) / albums / setlists et al. They were clearly relaxed amongst fans.

We also met their manager who was explaining the changing face of music. In the ‘old days’ a band would make money from a CD / Vinyl record. They would tour to promote the album. But the tables have turned now and the money is in touring. He regarded a CD as a ‘calling card’. Live music is what people want. This may have changed because of downloading (legal and illegal), file-sharing or services such as Spotify. He cited U2 as an example where their last album ‘only’ sold 300,000 copies; on their 360 degree tour they played to 3m people! U2 have sold 145 million albums since 1976!

So it seems that in order to succeed bands really have got to get on the road. Of course this means that they do have to have an ability / talent. They can’t hide behind clever recording techniques. Or do a Milli Vanilli!

Feeder / Renegade do have talent and pulled off the gig last night brilliantly. And the night before, so did Reel Big Fish.

The Isle of Wight Festival is my next big musical event – my 7th year! Roll on Summer! And can you ever see too much live music? No, never!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Feeder, , O2 Arena, Reel Big Fish, Renegade, U2

Web statistics?

We have come to run our lives through the internet – be it via emails or by social networking. I wondered just how many people are connected through the various mediums?

The headlines – ideal for Pub Quizzes? (I am not sure I would stake my life on them!)

1. The number of emails sent each day – 247 billion (by the time it takes to read this another 20 million have been sent!)

2. Around 91% (224 billion) are spam!

3. There are 1.4 billion users of email around the world

4. Approximately 900,000 blog posts are published each day

5. There are around 133 million blogs!

6. Wikipedia currently has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 different languages.

7. 18.3 million households had internet access in 2009 – around 70%

8. In 2009 it was estimated that 10.2 million adults never accessed the internet

9. If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populated place in the world

10. And yesterday the biggest search on Google was “Apple announcement live” … I wonder why? Google defined the hotness of the search as “volcanic”

Will electric ever be cool – in transportation?

I spent a freezing cold day in Hull last week; actually it was colder in the warehouse I was surveying than outside! I was parked in one of the darkest and dirtiest car parks I have been in for some time. It was not a ‘Park Mark‘ place by any stretch of the imagination!

Plug your car in here after 3pm

When I came back to my car, I realised that I had parked in a space reserved for those vehicles that need plugging in. I was lucky as it was only 2.00pm… I was also relieved to see my car was intact – although I could only check this when I got outside in the daylight.

I am not a great fan of these electric ‘vehicles’ – the only decent one is a Tesla and that’s a bit beyond my means! It costs a cool £86,940 – speeds to 60mph in 3.9 secs and has a range of 244 miles (better than my little car most of the time!)

By the end of 2010 it will be joined by such contenders as the Nissan Leaf, Coda sedan, and the Think City. But we are talking 100, 90 and 110 miles respectively before you need to find a plug (or a set of AAA batteries). The Think Car seems to have had an accident in the design department. Perhaps they were at lunch when they got around to that part? Or was it a winning design competition at a Junior school?

There’s an interesting article in the Guardian about the state of play of the electric car market here

So, we have some ways to go yet. But then last week there was an announcement by NASA which suggest to me that I might be thinking about electric after all… As the saying goes – I want one of those!

And for the weekend I would like an ICON A5 – if thats OK? And the price – around the same as a Tesla! Now that really is cool. I wonder if they will let me land on the Trent?

Beyond collaboration – The new Accounting Property firm

It was an announcement that took the property world by complete surprise (and perhaps the accountants too?).

I sold out and all I have left is a lousy key ring

Deloitte and Drivers Jonas are merging to create Drivers Jonas Deloitte. Details on the FT here about the new look firm.

Theres plenty of column centimetres on all three websites above to read the news – so I needn’t repeat it here.

But what do we make of the merger. Well it is interesting – a first I think. A merging of two quite different disciplines – or perhaps they are not. I guess over the years the big accountancy consultancy firms may have regarded ‘audit’ as bread an butter, but the business model has shifted toward consulting – and that’s precisely what DJ do, albeit in a narrower field.

I have two main observations…

Firstly, I have been part of a merger (takeover!) when Savills plc bought my firm (Walker Walton Hanson) in 1994. It was regarded as a good fit – giving Savills an exposure to Plant and Machinery, but also (critically) an east midlands base. It was an interesting marriage. I lost my partnership status to become a Director. It didn’t take long for Savills to start imposing a regime change (in fairness they had parted with some cash!). But fundamentally from my point of view was the difference in culture. We were completely different to them. But they had power…. It didn’t take me long to realise I didn’t want to do breakfast meetings at Grosvenor Hill in London, nor did I want to spend a morning coding my expenses! I left the minute I could and worryingly one of my old clients said soon afterwards – “it’s good to see you back on the tools”. There is a subtle difference here on that there has been no cash changing hands – just a merging of equity so this may help?

Secondly, I think the idea of collaborative working is really great – and the future. In fact I touched on this in my blog a short time ago about MIPIM. But there is a world of difference between working collaboratively (and thus non-exclusively) with a firm or group of firms and sleeping with them! The two firms must believe that there is substantial cross selling opportunity. But how will the other firms feel? Will DJD now do work for Ernst & Young as an example. Will DJD be able to appoint themselves instead of, say, GVAGrimley? It is an interesting conundrum – which I have no doubt they have thought through.

Many years ago we (in my Walker Walton Hanson days) considered briefly a merger with a firm of Nottingham Solicitors. But the conversation was relatively short-lived as there just seemed to be so many real or perceived conflicts of interest. We carried on our separate ways – for a while!

Only time will tell if this merger works. It is certainly interesting and I am sure we will all be watching it carefully!

UPDATE 26 Jan 2010 : 3.30pm

And news follows that NB Real Estate are selling to Capita – brief details are that there will be a £10m sum immediately and £10m to follow on an earn out.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Capita, Deloitte, Drivers Joas Deloitte, Drivers Jonas, Ernst & Young, GVA Grimley, Merger, NB Real Estate, , Savills, Walker Walton Hanson

The Himalayan Glaciers will be gone sooner or later?

It seems once again that the green movement has over-exaggerated claims about Global Warming.

Lake Imja Tsho courtesy of the UNEP

The supposedly respected WWF have been relying on a ‘report’ which suggested that the Himalayan Glaciers would be gone by 2035! Now they have issued an apology – buried on their web site in the press release section (not on their front page). They do have information on the Copenhagen Conference and a statement, “What we have after two years of negotiation is a half-baked text of unclear substance”. Pretty much like the half baked unclear data they trotted out to frighten us?

If you do a little digging around it seems that this prediction was a mathematical schoolboy error. A Glacier had been measured over 121 years and the rate of loss had been divided by 21 not 121… An ‘F’ in maths then?

My real frustration about this is that there clearly had been a loss, but the corrupt data (for that is what it is) does nothing for the cause. I blogged before about some of the, frankly, crackpot, ideas being promulgated – details here.

Before Christmas the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit was also caught with its pants down when it seems that some of their data in projecting hockey stick ‘growth’ in global warming might not have actually been based on real figures.

Some of this misinformation started with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – it is well established that much of the headline grabbing data was simply not true. For a list have a look here.

I think we need some real information. And we need it to be capable of being robustly tested. If we can (could?) put a man on the moon this should be relatively easy? It doesn’t need political tweaking or spinning. It needs to be right. Then people might actually take notice?

UPDATE 26 January 2010 – this may be older news than I thought?

UPDATE 24 February 2010

It seems that the data we have been relying on from our own esteemed Met Office might have a few little errors. So they are going to revisit the numbers. Seems we need all of this data to read the same – that the planet is warming up. Read the PR here. Not sure I can fully comprehend what they are getting at. Written in great ‘spin-speak!

Another own goal?

A house for £46,095,000? And no parking?

It didn’t escape me this week to spot a house for sale – at the eyewatering price of $75m! And its in my favourite City – New York. Details here if you are interested. In case the link breaks a brief description…

This grand and elegant neo-Italian Renaissance mansion is exceptionally wide (45′) and one of the largest and most important townhouses in New York. Commissioned in 1922 by Julius Forstmann, a prominent German merchant, the house was designed by C.P.H. Gilbert, the renowned architect who created majestic mansions for the leading families of the city. Behind a stately and distinguished limestone facade are five floors with an additional garden level and a full sub-basement comprising a total of approximately 21,000 +/- sq ft. The dramatic entrance foyer leads to a magnificent reception hall and grand-scaled rooms which feature many superb original details, including a spectacular sweeping marble staircase, an enormous skylight, marble fireplace surrounds, hand-carved moldings, and soaring high ceilings. This extraordinary townhouse offers the rare opportunity to own a Manhattan landmark with the versatility of luxury residential or trophy commercial use.

As a good agent I should offer to assist you in the purchase if this grabs you.

As for me, the $316,818 (£194,000) monthly mortgage might be ok for a while (around 4 weeks?) but after that I’m renting I think!

What really made me smile was that the agent had measured it to the nearest 1,000 sq ft! I am not sure what commission would have been negotiated, but I would do the job for 1% – a cool £460,000. And I would measure every room too!

I think I feel the need to go and have a look, after all, it’s four months since I was last in the Big Apple…

Cheap professional advice?

As I sat watching “build a new life in the Country” this week I find myself sitting asking – why?

The lighthouse at Eastbourne - courtesy Rob Wassell

A couple buy a former lighthouse in Eastbourne. The conversion is to a ‘hotel’ and as makes good television – they are in a hurry. Oh, and the lighthouse has been moved away from the cliffs once. That seems to have sorted that issue, but the road is soon going to be wet – as it falls into the sea. The Council allegedly agreed to a new route with the previous owners for £15,000. But they now want £85,000 – which is deemed ‘outrageous’.

Then there’s the builder who is modelled on David Brent – but with tattoos!

The couple paid £500,000 and think they will have to spend another £500,000 on refurbishing. The project suffers delays – and cost overruns. “We bought it in a moment of madness” the owners said. They applied for planning permission whilst the builders was on site. They spent “between £700,000 and £750,000″!

I couldn’t help wondering why on earth they didn’t take advice? A plug for all professionals – a Surveyor would have spotted the access road and might have expressed concern about the close cliff. An Architect would have made the building even better – and might have spotted the need for planning permission. He / she might have also avoided a sliding door! A QS would have tightened up on the costs before the work started – and enabled the owners to be able to be able to prioritise. The Project Manager would have kept the whole programme in check.

Yes, these services cost money, but the schoolboy errors can be avoided.

I did wonder when the owners apply for these programmes whether the first question is “ok so you have a great project and cool building – but have you taken ANY professional advice?” – Answer “No” and we’ll be there!

I have done two dilapidation surveys this week – where the tenants will almost certainly cry “it’s not fair”. In neither case did the tenant have a schedule of condition at the start of their lease. I have done one of those too this week – it cost £750. It will probably save the tenant tens of thousands of pounds at the end of his lease.

It sounds like money that can be saved (and spent on stripey fabric?) – but in the long run, it does pay to employ a professional. Plug over.

University of Nottingham – prolific developer!

There was news yesterday that the University of Nottingham officially opened the new ‘Grace’ building on Triumph Road – which I blogged about before.

The Grace Building Nottingham

Designed by a local team – including Mabers, d3Shipway and Price & Myers I think is a really great example of a practical building which looks great. I drive by it each day on my way home – and I think it looks even better at night.

Of course the really clever stuff goes on inside – it is a world class centre for studying Global Positioning Systems. Our lives have become dependent on GPS – which is now a pretty unremarkable tool. My phone uses the technology.

I commented on an imagemakers blog about map reading last week when I was debating with Phil Songhurst about the next wave of GPS – augmented reality. The latter will be a fantastic tool which I believe will change the face of how we find our way around!

We should also remind ourselves that the University have been building on the Triumph Road site now for many years, since purchasing the old Raleigh site. The building programme has continued apace through all manner of market conditions!

I was privileged last week to be shown a building on the main University campus which has been renovated for use by VIP visitors to the University. I have to say that the results were visually stunning – at 5-star hotel standard. But what also struck me was that the building had been ‘properly’ refurbished respecting the original features. Corners had not been cut. I would love to stay there!

A few years ago I was asked by a University client to help them with a report to their Governors – who wanted to know why their build costs were higher than those on a typical business park setting. What was apparent was that general offices (like my own) are well built – to a price. The developer knows there is a quality standard to achieve the optimum rental and capital values. The Universities are not driven by this; they have a long term game play. So the materials tend to be better and the design can be more adventurous.

The day I met the Prince!

One of the proudest achievements in my professional life was my involvement in acquiring the former Devonshire Royal Hospital from the NHS for Derby University in 2000. I got to meet Prince Charles at the opening! And even today the building still wows me every time I go.

What I really liked about Grace (which is at the opposite end of the architectural scale to the Buxton jewel) is that it clearly is a ‘box’, but the use of light and colour lifts it so that it really is better than an office.

We shouldn’t forget the contribution the Education sector contributes to our built environment – as well as providing bright Graduates!

Unhappy with the Government?

There’s news this week that Surveyors have been asked about their view on the state of play with the Government. Results were published in the Bible of the Surveyors week – Estates Gazette.

Only 3.3% of Surveyors said that “Gordon Brown was doing a good job”;
27.5% thought “the Election was an unwelcome distraction”, and;
69.2% didn’t think the election could come soon enough.

Looking back though there is evidence that as a Nation there is a familiar pattern! A survey by BBC/Ipsos Mori asked – “which of these statements best describes your opinion on the system of governing Britain”. You then have five choices – one is “needs a great deal of improvement”. And the percentages…

1973 – 14%
1995 – 35%
2003 – 18%
2009 – 37%

Labour swept to power in 1997 – after a sleaze campaign about the Tories. Expensegate is the 2009 phenomena?

As the Lord Acton saying goes – “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost alway bad men”

It is clear that whichever party wins the election the biggest challenge with be the reduction of Public Sector Borrowing. The Billions talked about don’t really mean anything. But today on the radio someone tried to put it in simplistic terms – “The Government borrows £20million every hour of every day each week..”. Wow!

I believe that the Election will be a distraction we enter the period of Purdue. So to that end, the sooner we get an election – the better! Post election, I don’t think there will be great news. We have been here before and we will survive!

Nottingham – yes we can!

Readers of my blog will (hopefully) realise that I am passionate about my home City of Nottingham. I really do want the best for the City. Much of my work is based here so it matters about how the City looks in physical and social terms.

Nottingham - friendliest city in the world, probably

We haven’t always had a good press – especially on the crime front, but the figures show a reduction in the figures. There is still much room for improvement – but we are going in the right direction.

I was watching the brilliant TED last night and came across a talk by Kiran Bir Sethi which is really inspirational. If you have 10 minutes to spare – watch it here.

What is fascinating about the talk is the simplicity of the approach – engaging kids at an early stage.

Kiran talks about the kids going on a journey, which has three key components:

Aware – see the change
Enable – be changed
Empower – lead the change

The children were immersed in some real life experiments – which they then formed their own clear opinions on. They had such conviction about what they had learned that they went out onto the streets to ‘change the world’.

The lessons in the talk are just brilliant – and something we should think about!

I am involved in the early stages of a project with Outerarc where we hope to introduce a competition in schools with the Sheriff of Nottingham and Lord Mayor of Nottingham to reduce energy use in schools (not the PE sort of energy!). After our initial meeting we were thinking that the collaboration we will encourage for the project can be easily extended into other areas.

If we can get the kids engaged in the aspects of what makes a city great we might have a chance of making it an even better place. But then you come across the thorny issue of what makes a City great. Some ideas:

The Physical environment – great buildings and places.
People – in all their guises
Day and Night activities – including great food!
A Centre – the Market Square
Diversity – in everything
Art – including the Contemporary
Education – our celebrated Universities and Colleges

There’s then my mini-campaign to tell everyone that Nottingham is (probably) the friendliest place in the world.

We should have some new advocates – the children of Nottingham!