The Nottingham Tram – an update

It was a week of free breakfasts and lunches last week – with lots of networking events. One was an update on the Nottingham Tram. This week I was singing the praises of HS2. But the Nottingham tram is different – the work is underway on the two new extensions.

I learned quite a lot at the event put on by TramLink:

1. It is a PFI deal for 23 year years – and will cost £570m
2. two-thirds of the money came from central Government; the balance from Nottingham City Council.
3. Lines 2/3 should add a capacity of 10m more passengers to the present line each year
4. The line will create 10,000 jobs
5. The economic benefit of the new lines is estimated at £300m

The Tram will be in place by the end of 2014. By that time there will have been 1,622 tonnes of steel installed and 23,000m3 of concrete poured!

One of the key parts of the construction is where a new bridge crosses the main Nottingham Station – this will be the first time this has been done in the UK. It will be eased across at a rate of 1m/hour…

We were reminded of the sustainable benefits too; 1 team is the equivalent of 3 buses or 177 cars.

The tram remains a big selling point for the City – even though I have my doubts about the effectiveness for everyone. It doesn’t cover the whole city – so corridors will develop where the influence is felt most. But the other factor remains the (relatively) short term mess. Our city roads are currently in a state of turmoil as the contractors work to prepare the route an start on the installation of the lines.The Workplace Parking Tax (levy) is not a great advert for the City – we are seeing people ask whether it is due when they look at buildings. It does not make them competitive – especially if the are away from the zones!

It’s a Rat Trap…

There was the best news of the decade this week (ignoring the HS2 announcement). It seems that The Boomotwn Rats have decided to re-form – and play the Isle of Wight Festival. This is good on two counts. Firstly that this is my all-time favourite band – just in front of Squeeze and alongside David Bowie. Secondly, I have tickets to the Isle of Wight Festival!

johnny fingers

I have been wondering for some time why the Rats hadn’t re-formed. Lots of bands from that era (and later) have captured a listening audience of a certain age trying to re-live their earlier life!

26 years after they last played Bob and his band of merry men are back together.

Who can forget the hits – Rat Trap and Monday’s. But there’s some great stuff on earlier albums. The Tonic for the Troops album remains one of my all-time favourites. “(I never loved) Eva Braun” was once described as the most cheerful song about Hitler ever written!

The album takes it’s name from the great lyric, “And Charlie ain’t no Nazi, she likes to wear her leather boots, ‘cos it’s exciting for the veterans and … it’s a tonic for the troops.“.

The great news is that I know every word to every Rats song, so if Geldof needs a hand I am ready for this. I did once ‘help’ Johnny Fingers play Banana Republic – but that’s another story!

So the only questions are… will Johnny Fingers wear his pyjamas and will Gerry Cott wear those sunglasses?

Rock on June – and the Isle of Wight Festival!

HS2 Here we come!

As predicted last week – there was an announcement yesterday that the ‘Y’ line of HS2 (from Birmingham to Leeds) will have a stop in Nottingham – the location of which (as I gambled) will be at Toton Sidings. I got the day wrong last week – I thought it was to be today! I hope you didn’t lose too much money.


I have blogged about this before – my view is that this is really good news for Nottingham. It puts us firmly on the national and international map. Getting to London in under an hour is one part, but the ability to get into Europe at high speed will offer a viable alternative to flying.

It is time the UK had a proper world-class travel system. In Shanghai I have been on the mag-lev train at 267mph. It is incredible. We are still running on rails that in part are 50 years or more old. That’s why I often feel like I have been wrung out when I get to London! We need fast, smooth and clean trains.

So what next? Well there are some legal loopholes. It is expected that the first work will actually begin in 2017 – with the London – Birmingham route open in 2026 and our station in 2033. That’s a long way away. I can only hope that this Government sees the sense in bringing the whole project forward!

The headline facts and figures are:

The London to Birmingham line will be around 140 miles long;
The total network (Phase One: between London and Birmingham and linked to HS1; and Phase Two: links to Manchester and Leeds; and a Heathrow spur) will be around 330 miles of track;
More than half the Phase One route will be in cuttings or tunnels;
Around 56.5 miles of Phase One will be partially or totally hidden in cutting to reduce visual effects and noise in neighbouring communities;
In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) over 11 miles of the Phase One route will be in tunnel, green tunnel or cutting, with just over a mile and a half of the line on the surface.

The cost is estimated at £32.7bn (at 2011 prices). We need to start saving!

Nottingham Contemporary – new show!

I went to the Director’s Cut on Friday night. The latest show at the Nottingham Contemporary has arrived in Nottingham.


As is usual it’s a two part show. If I am honest I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this opening. The pre-shhow information didn’t fire me up and I was worried that some of the work was going to be too ‘conceptual’ for me! But I was pleasantly surprised.

John Newling’s work is the more difficult to explain. It revolves, in the main, around Miracle Trees and walking stick cabbages. Then there is a part about money – or rather the detritus from money. Newling took 50,000 2p coins and ‘cleaned’ the muck from them. The muck was weighed and the value of the muck was 7p. This was then put in some jars (see the picture). The art-philistine in me just asks, “why“.

But the surprise of the show was Piero Gillardi – much of which is expanded foam modelled into ‘natural’ objects and painted. This was really good and I could appreciate this much more. I though there was humour in the pieces. I liked the ‘nature carpets’ constructed in the early 1960′s. The live performance was more challenging – but I could run with it. Piero runs an ecological art gallery overlooking the former Fiat factory in Turin.

What was really impressive was the number of people at the first night of the show. The Contemporary was as busy as I have seen it. This is good for Nottingham!

I am still working on appreciating the art!

Whiplash – the easy route to cash?

A fruend had a slight bump in a car park last September. She was reversing out of a space, looked, saw no-one, proceeded (at less than 5mph) and hit an oncoming car.


The cars were scratched. In fact the scratch was T-Cut out. So, a fortunate situation.

But then you fast forward 4 months and out of the blue arrives a letter from a no-win-no-fee lawyer. It seems that the driver of the car suffered whiplash – and is seeking compensation. He went to the City Hospital (who I don’t think have an A&E department). He is waiting for medical reports – on the ‘bone and soft tissue damage’.

The version of events proffered?

“the accident was solely as a result of the Defendants negligence in that they failed to keep a proper look out, drove too fast, failed to use steering and gears and/or brakes so as to avoid the said collision, failed to stop, swerve or slow down, failed to leave a sufficient stopping distance, failed to heed the position of the other vehicle and drove without due care and attention”.

It really is time the Insurance Industry clamped down on these sort of trumped up claims. Records uncovered by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) showed 547,405 claims for whiplash in 2011/12, compared with 571,111 in the previous year, a fall of 4.2%. That’s still 10,500 each week!

And if you Google search ‘whiplash injuries’ you will be bombarded with adverts – there’s one here (ignore the typo) but this is what they proudly say, “Om average, most minor whiplash cases do statistically settle for around £2,500. A minor whiplash is generally the most common category – so this statistic gives you a general idea of what you could be looking at.”

No wonder we are the whiplash capital of the world! £2bn paid out last year – that’s £90 per policy!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Insurance, Lawyers, no win no fee, whiplash

Art – from space?

I have an issue with Twitter, with the number of people I follow (and who follow me) the twitter-stream is long – and changes every few seconds. It’s hard separating the good and bad! I really need a spring clean.


Of course the beauty of twitter is that you can go to an individuals feed and work through their tweets. One of my favourites is – it’s a great take on life from the (not) real Queen.

But there is another which is just brilliant – – Chris is a Canadian Astronaut, currently living in space aboard ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34 and is to be Commander of Expedition 35. He takes photographs – lots of them!

The photograph taken on the blog today is one of Chris’ – and is the outback in Australia. I think it is a stunning image – it looks more like art than a straight aerial shot?

There are other shots on Chris’ twitter feed – including San Francisco and New York. there is something fascinating about looking down at the place we call home?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged aerial photograph, Commander Hadfield, CSA, ISS, NASA, photograph, Space,

Lumpy – like porridge

It’s that time of year again when my firm, Innes England, publishes a look back at the previous years trading in the East Midlands marketplace.


We hold three events – in each of the cities where we have offices. Leicester was Tuesday, Derby yesterday and this morning the final one was in Nottingham yesterday. We get around 600 people to come along.

This is our 7th year of publishing data about key deals and average rents / capital values in the three cities. The last 5 years have been difficult stories to tell. It’s not pretty as they say. Most people in the Industry realise that the market remains a challenge. Money remains tight. Deals are scarce and tenant is king – at the moment. I don’t need to bore you with this data – you already know.

There is an interesting take on all of this – perhaps we are in a depression. We have certainly been in the doldrums for a long period – and I can’t see what is changing at the moment. I can’t help but wonder if this place we are in is the new ‘norm’. We hark back to the boom times of 2007 – but no one I speak to thinks that this era is back anytime soon. The sentiment in the market is not an optimistic one. Subdued would be an understatement!

Even the Bank of England speaker, Alistair Cunningham, said we shouldn’t get too excited about 2013. Growth is likely to remain non-existent.

So we bobble along the bottom again. For the foreseeable future

Will Rossiter Nottingham Business School summed it up nicely at our event yesterday – ‘the market is like porridge – lumpy’!

If you would like a copy of our Market Insite and couldn’t make the presentations let me know through here and I will make sure we get you a copy!

HS2 – an imminent announcement

It is widely expected that a Minister will make an announcement next week (put your money on Tuesday) about the route of HS2 rail – and whether the East Midlands will get a station. If we do – the six million dollar question will be ‘where’. I have covered this subject before – and we have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride.


HS2 would be good for the East Midlands in my view. I think we will miss out if the trains simply whistle by us. Stations will give places a competitive edge. It will certainly put us on the map!

The job creation during construction will be significant.

This morning I am at the third of my firms Market Insite events – more on that tomorrow. You might be able to guess that the market isn’t exactly booming!

There was real evidence when the east coat main line was electrified that values around station stops improved. When the first phase of Nottingham’s tram was built it was estimated that values of properties in the near vicinity rose by around 10%. More importantly tram stops kick-started stalled developments.

If we assume that we aren’t going to see a freeing up of money – then we need to see some major infrastructure projects?

HS2 would be a great project – if only it were to start sooner?

In the meantime if you want another little bet on whether there is going to be a Station in the East Midlands I would say the smart money is on ‘yes’. As to whether it goes to Derby or Nottingham – my money is ‘between the two’. At a place called Toton. There have been some interesting comments locally about an international rail station being called “Toton Sidings’, I suspect that it might get named properly – ‘Nottingham International’…

How retailing should be?

Over the last few weeks (and months?) I have been a bit down-beat about retailing. The failure of HMV, Jessops and Comet seems to have been a car-crash waiting to happen.

Amoeba Music

For retailers to survive they are going to have to offer much more than a point of sale. Unless they occupy an incredibly niche market. People want an ‘experience’, they want to feel loved. When you consider what Apple have done with their stores you realise just how far the experience route has gone. Steve Jobs famously wanted there to be an experience first and sale second.

In America one of my favourite shops is Bleeker Street records in New York. It sells vinyl, CDs and all manner of other medium. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else (no ipads here).

Last week I head about a similar place – Amoeba Records in LA. I never made it there went I visited LA (actually I couldn’t get away from the place quickly enough). But it looks brilliant. It isn’t Bleeker Street records – it’s huge.

Amoeba has three key principles – customer service, variety of stock and a ‘cool vibe’. By all accounts it has got this right. It seems to have the scale of a mega-store but the charm of an independent? 240 people work there – drawn from musicians, actors, DJ’s and artists. I guess they don’t treat it as a job – it’s a passion. They recommend stuff to you – and if you don’t like it you get a full-refund!

They have worked their customers out – and offer them a real service. Had HMV done this they might have survived?

One day at a time?

Not the Lena Martell song nor the AA mantra particularly, but a reminder to all of us.

Steve Voce as I remember him...

Steve Voce as I remember him…

At the weekend I was sent a link on Facebook to an article in the Daily Mirror published on Friday last week. It tells the really sad story of Steve Voce – who has fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) – a type of dementia caused by damage to the frontal lobe and temporal parts of the brain – the areas responsible for behaviour, emotional responses and language skills. He was diagnosed 2006.

You can – and should – read the article here.

I remember Steve from my days working at Nottingham Hospitals Radio. He was programme controller then Station Director. He, like lots of people at that time, was passionate about radio. It was said that you needed to eat, sleep and breathe radio to make it professionally. He did both – eventually working on Trent FM and Gem.

He was a great presenter – who many people of my era looked up to. Some people are naturally good at presenting; Steve was one of those people.

The story in the Mirror is really sad – Steve is only 59 years old. Your heart goes out to him and his family.

It’s a very salutary reminder that these things can happen to any of us…one day at a time!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged DJ, fronto-temporal dementia, FTD, Gem, NHR, , Radio, Steve Voce, Trent FM