Nottingham is the place to invest – it’s official

The Midlands is the most attractive destination to overseas investors outside London according to research released last week by Ernst & Young.

This is great news for Nottingham – the natural centre of the Midlands!

91 inward investment projects were established in the region in 2010 and this places the Midlands as the most attractive destination for inward investment projects outside of London. The projects resulted in 3,769 new jobs being created in the region, an increase of 150 per cent in 12 months – the largest in England.

Nottingham has had its fair share of the success stories, Changan Automotive moved to No.1 Nottingham Science Park – which I manage for Blueprint. Changan made it clear that their decision to move was the expertise they could tap into at the University of Nottingham. This was one of 13 projects in Nottingham highlighted in the report.

Nottingham has the ability to stay on track for inward investment – especially if we can continue to lobby for improvements to our infrastructure. Rail and air travel are ok (although we still need, in my view to lobby for HS2). Our next major wish-list item has to be the widening of the A453.

Last week the Planners in Nottingham gave a thumbs up to the revised Broad Marsh centre plans – we now need Westfield to get on site!

Our two University’s remain vitally important to the City. We also have expertise in the manufacturing Industries – we have a deep history in Raleigh, Players cigarettes and Boots. That expertise may be dormant, but it is easy to get it back…

In the meantime, we need to shout from the rooftops that we are ready to welcome inward investment!

Police Capture Cars – fair game?

I noticed a sign on Castle Boulevard this week saying that Police Capture Cars were operating in Nottingham. Last year there were 6,000 car crimes in the City. And the Capture Cars are the Police’s way of fighting back.

In essence there are some cars which contain hidden cameras and then some ‘ordinary goods’ covered with smart water.

Thieves break in – have their pictures taken and get nabbed. Then they go to Prison. This seems a good thing to me. I think is is called justice.

But this is not fair according to Justice – who think that the thieving gits (who usually take a big crowbar to your car) are being encouraged to ram their hooded heads through your side windows to remove your goods – which are stupidly on show. They believe that this is entrapment using Capture Cars. Thieves are being fooled into breaking into your property. They are otherwise good hooded citizens – but these honey-traps are just not cricket. It’s not fair apparently.

As someone who has had more than my fair share of cars broken into, I’m sorry I don’t agree.

The best way of staying out of prison is not to commit crime. And this includes carrying a crowbar around with you in case the opportunity presents itself to smash a car window and nick someones else’s gear. If I saw a handbag or £50 note on the seat of a car it wouldn’t enter my head to smash a window and steal them?

I wholeheartedly agree with Capture Cars. Long may they continue until the thieves get the rules thing about other peoples gear. It’s exactly that – other peoples gear. If they want the same stuff, earn some cash and buy it – like we have to.

You can watch the video below…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man!, Nottingham Tagged Autos, Capture Cars, Car glass, Crime, Criminals, Hidden camera, Justice, , Nottinghamshire Police, Theft

Great customer service and not so… all in one day!

This week I had reason to deal with two high-tech companies. One was Vodaphone, the other Orbicule – who write software.

The man who watches over my laptops!

Sadly it took an email to the CEO of Vodaphone to make them see any sense. I moved our office iphones to them last year; it was a great deal. They were incredibly helpful whilst wanting our business. And, in fairness, up until the last month had given a reasonable service. Not as good as O2, but ok. But then we broke an iphone and had a new member of staff – who wanted to port their old phone onto our account. After half a dozen emails and calls, we got no response. Not even an automated “I’m on Holiday..”. So, the CEO was needed. I did get a response quite quickly. But the response wasn’t overly helpful – suggesting I should fill in a form o their web site. My preference is to deal with people. They did eventually sort out a person for us – but I am not sure why I needed to scream at the CEO to get noticed as a customer.

Then I had an email suggesting I could upgrade a little piece of software on my two Macs for free. A good start! The software is known as ‘undercover‘ and in essence if someone steals my Macs, it will start taking pictures of them and transmitting their location to me / The Police. It then progressively darkens the screens so they can’t be used. But it leaves a message on the screen indicating that the machine is stolen! Unfortunately during the upgrade, there were some errors reported, so I emailed Orbicule. I had a response within the afternoon – from a real person (Winnie). They had sorted the issue, pointed me at a website and sent me some new codes to enter. I logged on and it all worked. I emailed them to thank them and got an immediate response saying “you’re welcome”. Impressive.

It’s not difficult to get customer service right, but so often big organisations simply put barriers in place!

The wobble happened….

I admit it. I went to Costa this week – twice. A free drink on Thursday (it was family and friends day – I was an honorary friend) and a paid for one on Friday. Both at the new drive through at Castle Marina in Nottingham. I was worried about this earlier in the week. It felt dirty.

The UK's first Costa drive-through

The new store, I have to confess, is rather good. It is new after all. It is better inside than Starbucks – which was last upgraded a few years ago. It now looks tired at the side of Costa. There is more bad news for Starbucks – Costa will have wi-fi fitted, it wasn’t working yesterday as they were having some technical issues… But the technical issue at Starby’s is that the numpties at Sainsbury’s say wi-fi interferes with their till system (I think not).

I understand that this is the first Costa drive-through in the UK. Six more are planned this year, but Nottingham has the first past the post badge.

The new Nottingham Best Buy store

Next door, Best Buy opened too yesterday. I didn’t bother early in the morning as they were queuing! And this morning someone called Alesha Dixon is singing. I have no idea who she is.

The store seems to have taken an age to open, which is not surprising as it is cavernous inside. The staff are `ll really friendly and are apparently expert in all manner of technology. I should imagine that Currys, Comet and PC world will be quite worried…

Just thinking through my coffee issue, I wonder if I could go and sit in Costa with my take-away Starbucks?

A replacement for emda?

The LEP’s are in the process of being formed in my neck of the woods. Known as D2N2 – it’s going to be a wide ranging body with little cash as I understand it. Actually I’m not sure I do understand it. I think there was some fun and games around what to it – Should it have been N2D2 not D2N2? (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire are in the gang). My perception is that business have little or no interest in it. From a personal perspective I have idea why we have binned emda. We could have easily slimmed it down – and kept the vast amount of intellectual property the organisation has built up. That pool of knowledge has now drifted off.

The East Midlands

I joined a group set up by Tony Bates on LinkedIn. is a loose group of business people in the wider east midlands region – who want to work on a region wide basis.

Tony said in a press release, “The first round of funding for the LEP’s was an abject failure – only one business in the region secured any investment. There’s a definite feeling amongst businesses that they don’t need the LEPs to secure investment – they can do it by themselves.”

Tony went on to say, “the East Midlands needs a cohesive, regional voice, rather than everyone pushing their own individual agenda”.

I was to have gone to the second meeting of the group, but couldn’t. You might be interested in the notes of the meeting – which can be seen here. There is also a web site here.

Business has spoken… We don’t always need to be told what to do – and this is a brilliant ‘self-help’ answer.

This made me smile….

There is a scientific explanation to this video, but I don’t think any is needed!!

It just made me smile. Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the pentatonic scale…. unbelievable … I challenge you not to smile!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Arts, Bobby McFerrin, Pentatonic scale, World Science Festival, YouTube

The carbon question…

Chris Huhne seems to be in trouble with the Mail on Sunday – who have devoted a number of weeks column inches in trying to bring him down for allegedly getting his wife to take his speeding points.

But there was a sideshow in this weeks paper which levelled an attack on him for the work he is doing on the UK’s green agenda. His Carbon Budget commits the UK to reducing its carbon output by 50% over the next 14 years. A tall order.

What was really interesting about the article was the language – it was suggested that in the policy-making bubble of the Palace of Westminster it is “settled” that there is such a thing as ‘global warming’. Even the most vocal of global warriors dislike the phrase and say the Scientific community don’t know for certain – it is work in progress. And the University of East Anglia (who were at the centre of the last ‘data’ storm) have now suggested that there has been ‘no statistically’ significant increase in global temperatures since 1995…

I have always been a sceptic of some of the stories that are put about. The low point was the Al Gore ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘ shambles. Someone should have told us it was a work of fiction – we all thought it was a documentary.

At the back of my mind is that we should take care of the planet – and shoving pollution out can’t be good in the long term. But we have to make sure that what is being done is relevant. If the UK ‘only’ contributes 2% of the Worlds emissions we need to prioritise. None of the big polluters (The USA, China or India) have carbon reduction commitments – if they did so, it would have an impact. Until you realise that the human race only account for 3% of the total carbon dioxide produced…

My research work on the correlation of values on green buildings is nearly complete – and it seems to show that the commercial markets are not buying into green buildings – but more of that later.

I have always said that we really do need some clear Scientific evidence to demonstrate that we are causing the problems. Then we can respond accordingly, but in the meantime – we will just go around in circles?

The Seed Cathedral

I blogged some time ago about the fantastic UK Pavilion at the China Expo. It was lovingly known as the Seed Cathedral – and really was something the UK could be proud of (which cynically I thought made a change!)

This week I was trawling TED – which s much better than the TV most of the time! And I came across a talk by Thomas Heatherwick – the Architect who designed the Pavilion. The talk meanders around some of his other fascinating projects before explaining the theory behind the Seed Cathedral. If you have a spare 15 minutes and are interested in Architecture it is well worth a look. You can find the video here. Unfortunately TED don’t let me embed videos as Youtube do…

A real dilemma?

My choice of (legal) drug is caffeine. Days are not great if I don’t have my essential Starbucks in a morning.

You will find me at Castle Marina most mornings; it’s on my way to the office and the staff know what need want. I don’t need a long chat, it’s easy – Grade Cappuccino. Most of the staff know…

And people who say it’s bad for you are wrong – there’s a new study out which suggests it may actually be good for you. It is certainly good for my office – as it makes me a smiley happy person when I arrive!

There are some downsides. I have to tolerate numpties who can’t park for toffee in Sainsbury’s car park. They don’t get the white lines thing – or they believe that straddling is a prize-winning exercise. And they don’t have wi-fi in Starbuck’s because Sainsbury’s reckon it will blow their tills up. Which is clearly utter rubbish. But they are not for reasoning with apparently. More numpties. I’m not sure how I can tolerate these things?

The dilemma is that Costa open this week at the back of Sainsbury’s on the retail park. It’s a brand new shiny store – which has a drive-in facility. It is going to apparently have wi-fi. And you can park outside.

The down-side? – the coffee is not as nice as Starbucks. But … could I adapt to the taste?? A dilemma for the week – I may just venture in for a nosey!

Are we real – part 2

It might help if we all pinch ourselves this morning – if it hurts, this is great news.

Yesterday, the World may have ended. As I write some of my blogs in advance, I scribble this missive on Friday night. Thus Saturday the 21st May hasn’t yet happened. I publish this on Sunday morning by remote control. So I don’t actually have to be here for this post to appear in the world. So, it could be that I’m not here, but then nor are you.

Thousands of people around the USA (there doesn’t seem to have been much coverage here) have spent the last few days taking to the streets and saying final goodbyes before Saturday, Judgment Day, yesterday, was when they expected to be absorbed into Heaven in a process known as The Rapture. Nonbelievers, they believe, will be left behind to perish…

And I thought Rapture was a song by Blondie. Not as good as Hanging on the Telephone, but good nonetheless.

Sorry, perhaps I am not taking this seriously. We could all have started to fade away to stardust and I am making jokes about pop music. Apologies.

Normal service will return tomorrow. If we are still here?

ps Check there’s no one missing nearby?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Bible, Christianity, end of the world, Judgement Day, Pop music, Rapture, Religion and Spirituality, , USA