I’m sorry I missed it….

As you probably know I had an inconvenient brush with a golf course yesterday, so had to settle for the repeats (which are still on) of that Wedding.

I’m sorry I missed it – it looks like it was a blast.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Royal Wedding, T-Mobile, Video highlights

CD’s the dilemma

I have blogged before about my music collection – and the fact that I buy CD’s not downloaded music. But it looks like I am in the minority. The major multiple retailers like HMV are struggling as sales of CD’s plummet.

Conversely Vinyl is making a comeback – especially as artists realise that this is a great way of making money out of ‘record’ sales.

Coupled with this is the expansion of space I need for my CD collection. I have lost count of the number, the rack is full – and they are beginning to pile up on top of it. They represent a lot of history and many happy memories. I know what I have in the collection – I doubt any of it is worth anything in reality – just sentimental value.

Downloading isn’t quite the same. That’s even ignoring the lower quality.

MY entire music collection is now held on itunes – and amounts to 300gB of data. Too much for the ipods I have. It is backed up three times (the thought of re-digitising it doesn’t appeal!)

I have seen a Brennan system which might be the answer. It looks great – and it is British! But it too looks like it wants to compress the music (like itunes does). So if I buy it, what do I do with all of those CD’s. Do I box them up and put them in the corner of the loft which doesn’t have stuff piled up? Will I even fetch them down again?

Any ideas? (please don’t say buy another CD rack…)

Introductory offers leading to rip off territory?

As a property consultancy business we consume lots of information – we rely on it. The internet has allowed information to be disseminated widely, but is not infallible.

Deal information is a necessity in much of the valuation work we do. Valuers are always looking back at what has happened – as the saying goes, “we don’t make the market”. We simply report on what the market is doing.

Last year we were approached by “Focus” who are a company who set out to collect and report on this sort of information. We were offered an introductory offer of £2,000 per annum to try the system. By all accounts it is good. We have used it as part of a number of information aggregators – but we still talk to other agents and professionals to make sure we have the ‘right’ information. This is especially important in expert witness reports.

So we were happy to renew the subscription. Until we hear heard the price – £24,000pa. I had assumed my Partner had mis-heard. A twelve fold increase?

Apparently this was not a typo, nor a mumble. It was a clear price.

This sort of thing irritates me. I am all for introductory offers – but they need to have some reference to the ‘full price’. This just smacks of ‘rip off’.

As I blog I understand that we may have agreed an increase – but not in the tens of thousands of pounds range. And the story is the same across a number of our competitor firms (we do actually talk to each other!)

Charity begins at home?

I have a love hate relationship with the Mail on Sunday. Some of the content of the paper irritates me; especially the ‘opinion’ pieces of Hitchens and Moore. It is best used as chip paper – before you read it. But I quite like “Live” – the magazine.

Last weeks edition contained a fascinating piece about the UK’s overseas aid budget. The Department for International Development (DFID) have an annual budget of £7.8bn. And we are sending £280m each year to India – guaranteed until 2015.

when you see some of the projects we are funding you do have to wonder what we are doing. The MOS allege that we are actually making matters worse in some areas. Giving funding with strings just seems to attract corruption on a grand scale. Government officials have been caught with millions in their accounts.

But there is a more fundamental issue here. India have a space programme – they are sending a probe to Mars. They are building two aircraft carriers at a cost of £1bn. They have five star hotels. They even give aid to 40 Countries themselves… £320m last year. Oh and they have had GDP growth of 25% over the last four years.

I know that the UK can hold its head high on the International stage when we do help other Countries. There are people much worse off in the World than me. I have no issue in Charity. But I do wonder why we don’t suggest to India that they might like to have a look at some priorities at home? Like clearing the slums of Bhopal before they send a probe to Mars?

As for us – Charity begins at home. We hear headlines on a daily basis about cuts to public services and of more people on the bread-line – perhaps some of that £280m could be better spent on poverty here?

And just in case you wondered how the Indian’s would react the quote in the article suggested, “Most Indians think of ourselves as aid donors not recipients … we don’t want to sound ungracious but we could do without your aid”…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Asia, Bhopal, Charity, Department for International Development, India, International development, Live, Mail on Sunday, Secretary of State for International Development, Slums

Nottingham at MIPIM 2012

As you will know if you follow my blog regularly I was heavily involved in Nottingham’s presence at MIPIM 2011. We went on a budget, punched well above our weight and by all accounts enjoyed success as a group of private sector firms doing their bit for the wider benefit of the City.

We had our post-MIPIM post-mortem last week at Nottingham Contemporary. I think I can now give tours! After the tour we settled down for a meal in the cafe and had a chance to reflect on 2011. By all accounts the firms who put their hard earned cash into the event were pleased with their investment. The cocktail party in Cannes was regarded as the best event – we had a very good turnout – and the quality of guests was really high. There were some excellent networking opportunities.

Although much of what we do is ‘slow-burn’ there were some success stories. One of the partners in Team Nottingham is quoting for work worth a six-figure sum as a direct result of a meeting at MIPIM. That is money coming into Nottingham. It could have gone elsewhere.

I have met two potential investors and developers as a direct result of MIPIM – and hope that one of them may pursue one of Nottingham’s biggest regeneration challenges.

What was really interesting was the commitment now for 2012. Everyone is in from the private sector. All of the private sector partners felt that the time,, money and effort added a positive to their business. We don’t have to justify that to anyone other than ourselves. The public sector have more of a challenge – in demonstrating ‘value for money’. I doubt that their position will have changed – but their presence is essential. The private sector may well need to pay for their attending again.

So it looks like the work to build on the success of the last few years will need to start all over again. March 2012 seems a long way off, but it amazing how quickly time flies…

Nottingham – the hot spot

As the weather seems have got warmer so has Nottingham in the eyes of McKinsey.

They have just published a survey where they are trying to identify 600 Cities across the globe where they believe the biggest growth will occur over the next 15 years. And Nottingham is one of the UK Cities that has been identified – along with Southampton, Bristol, Liverpool, West Yorkshire (is that a new name for Leeds), Birmingham and Newcastle.

In their pre-amble they suggest that they have had to aggregate nearby Cities – to create Metropolitan areas. On the basis of their current population estimate of 1.779 million people – they must have included those other Parishes we know as Derby & Leicester? By 2025 they think the urban population will be 1.981m. That’s a lot of people!

We are identifid as part of 600 Cities across the World who are ‘fast growing’. To that end my earlier challenges for Nottingham are even more important? I identified them here, but to recap:

1. Shopping – getting Broad Marsh and Victoria Centre right – to complement the rest of the City
2. High Speed Train 2 – to get people in and out of the City
3. Robin Hood – to build a World Class Attraction
4. Universities – build on the two excellent Universities to provide us with the best talent
5. Crime – great news in the last few days about crime – but we have to keep working to get it and keep it down!

All easy stuff…but more important than ever if we see the sort of growth McKinsey anticipate?

Oh and welcome to Nottingham you folks from the outlying villages of Derby and Leicester!

Another Holiday?

So it’s another Bank Holiday today. Hot on the heels of last weeks ‘Good Friday’. Then we have this coming Friday as another holiday – for some reason. We then have to wait another couple of days before we get another day off – May Day.

So four Bank Holidays in three weeks. One for some wedding or other.

When you consider the cost to business you do have to wonder about these holidays. When I look around my firm and the fee earning staff who have to find work each day which pays, you realise the real cost to business. Looking at our average billings per fee earner I estimate that these holidays cost around £63,000 in lost revenue. We aren’t a large business!

Of course what really happens is that we have to work a little bit harder on the non-Bank Holidays. The work doesn’t slow down – it just backs up. So there’s a rush before and a rush afterwards. Sometimes you wonder why you took holiday!

Perhaps it’s time we looked at these Holidays. Sure we should have Christmas and Easter, but some of the others?

Most people,as far as I can see, get annual holidays now? Do we need these extra statutory days?

And had I not been playing golf on Friday next, I would have questioned why that couple couldn’t have managed to hit either a Saturday, Sunday or one of the other numerous Bank Holidays around this time of year? Not difficult for a bloke who can fly a helicopter?

Great TV – Silk

One of the best inventions ever is Sky+ – it’s something I use a lot. It means I can reliably get involved in a series without ever missing a part.

I have just finished watching “Silk” on BBC1 – and I think this is the sort of TV that justifies the Licence Fee. I thought it was brilliantly written. I thought it managed to break some prejudices about ‘class’ in Chambers with the secondary modern girl (Martha Costello) gaining her Silk in the final episode.

Interestingly some of the reviews weren’t good. I guess by the time I get round to TV I don’t need it to be tack sharp accurate. There can be some artistic licence (there is a healthy dose). But this mini series was light hearted and good always won over evil.

The good news is that with average viewing figures of 5.9million, the BBC have commissioned a second series – so roll on 2012!

PS – there is a downside to Sky+ – I am usually quite a long way behind the office chat about programmes!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged , Maxine Peake, Silk, sky+

Radio 6 – the limited audience?

I like my music. I also like to listen to new music. I am a bit restless and am constantly flicking between the radio and the ipod in my car. The ipod has my 49,950 track Itunes library on – so I can usually find something.

The radio can frustrate me. I like Radio 4 in a morning – but latterly have got bored with the bickering. Radio One is a bit too cool for me and I have lost interest in the ‘commercial’ music playlist. I’m not old enough for Radio 2 (you may disagree). I tried Radio 5 for a while – but there are too many phone ins – and no music.

Then there is Radio 6 – which I like. A lot. I have really got into the Manchester sounds (it seems you need to be a Mancunian to be a presenter) now. I find Shaun Keaveney clever and amusing in a morning. When I’m out and about I like Radcliffe and Maconie in the afternoon. Steve Lamacq is great for drivetime.

The most played artists is Bowie – so that helps!

But I have been listening for a few weeks alone it seems. I mention it in the office but realise that I am the only one with DAB radio in my car…

I wonder if all Radio in the future is going to be on DAB, in the meantime I will enjoy being in a limited audience.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man! Tagged BBC6music, DAB, Radcliffe and Mocaonie, Radio 1, Radio 4, Radio Two, Shaun Keaveney

Nottingham – crime statistics

Hot on the heels of Tom Glancz’s excellent work of getting a retraction from the Sunday Times, new crime statistics for Nottingham suggest crime has been slashed by nearly 40 per cent in the last five years. These are official Police figures. Crime is now at its lowest since 1980. You can read Tom’s guest blog here.

The real movement has been in the last 12 months – when crime fell by 14.2%.

So in perspective this is the lowest crime figure for Nottingham for 30 years.

But this is not a place to be complacent – we still have 84,000 crimes committed in the City and County. Locking up Colin Gunn was listed as one of the reasons for the reduction!

We have to keep on top of crime – it is a deeply damaging headline for the City. Whilst we here don’t take very much notice (in reality we probably don’t come across it), it is looked at by inward investors. It is a corrosive feature which does irreparable damage. And fundamentally it sticks for a long time. The (lazy) writings of A A Gill and Daisy Waugh in the Sunday Times are as a direct result of prejudices held from years ago. It potentially takes generations to rid ourselves of the labels.

But these new figures are a good sign. It would be even better if next year they can be better still…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged A. A. Gill, crime statistics, Daisy Waugh, Gun crime, , Sunday Times, Tom Glancz