Nottingham Broadmarsh – don’t hold your breath….

The saga of the Nottingham Broadmarsh centre continues. Ever since CSC acquired the centre from Westfield in 2011 the centre has faced an uncertain future and has gradually gone (further) downhill. It’s a pretty sad place.

The dream of Broadmarsh - Westfield style...

The dream of Broadmarsh – Westfield style…

Yesterday Intu (formerly known as CSC) published their annual account. And it contains some little nuggets to tell you about their intentions for Nottingham. Don’t get too excited.

In essence the order of batting is:

Victoria Centre refurbishment 2013-15 – £38m
Broadmarsh refurbishment …
Victoria Centre extension …

In respect of the latter two, the picture is suitably vague, they say, “we are progressing plans for refurbishment of the Victoria Centre, which will be followed by the redevelopment of Broadmarsh and the extension of the Victoria Centre”. The timescale for their “Nottingham Projects” is 2016-19 and the sum put aside is £260m. There’s no split as to where the money is going. But last September CSC denied they were shelving plans for a “£240m for the Victoria Centre extension”. It’s always dangerous to mix two lots of ‘data’ – but if the maths are right that leaves £20m for Broadmarsh?

In shopping centre terms thats just about a lick of paint and some new patio doors leading to the station?

There is some logic though here. CSC bought Broadmarsh from Westfield for £55m. Their asset value in their accounts for Victoria Centre is £308m. Victoria Centre has always been the better centre, it gets the early cash injection (£38m) for refurbishment. I think you can see what Intu think of Broadmarsh…. Not much!

This is not the right answer for Nottingham.

MIPIM 2013

I must be getting old – I have just got my badge for MIPIM 2013 – and it is “Gold” – as a result of me having been som many times! I think this is my 10th year. It is my third year of being at the beating heart of Team Nottingham.

I blogged back in January (here) that we had made a decison to go the the South of France to shout about Nottingham’s wares. And in two weeks time we will be there.

It has been a rocky road – as is so often the case when you have so many parties – but the team is a strong as it has ever been. It includes Boots – as well as some of the usual suspects – Gleeds, CPMG, Rizc McCay, UKR, Morgan Tucker, Cartwrght Communications, Geldards, Miller Birch, CPW and the City Council. My firm, Innes England also play a key role. In the team you can get a cradle to grave service if you want to come to Nottingham!

We are delighted that Peter Richardson Chairman of the D2N2 LEP will be the guest speaker at a dinner we are hosting on Tuesday evening – in front of 60 invited investors / developers as well as the team. We are having a drinks party for 200 on Wednesday and brunch on the thursday. I have seen the guest list – it is impressive!

The Leader of the City Council is cycling to Cannes again – raising money for Charity – you can see the details here.

I already have a full diary for the week – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Canape sickness is quite common!

But the team also have some surprises for guests this year – as well as some incredible ipad applications showcasing the city’s assets! We even have a film produced y my good friends at Antenna.

All that we need to do is come back with a bunch of leads and leave everyone there with the impression that the only place they need to think about investing in is … Nottingham….

It took me back…

As I mentioned yesterday I was in Boston on Friday. The last time I was there was with the Sheriff’s Commission back in September 2009.


In fact, that was the start of this little blog really – I wrote a guest piece from good mate John Lyle. Then this blog got started soon afterwards – John and I sat in the cafe at Tate Modern and the rest, as they say, is history.

We had a few hours in Boston and I recalled many of the places I had visited on the ‘Boredom Trail‘. Including the rather uninspiring stone circle which is the site of the Boston Massacre. However, if you look at the blog post on John’s site and my image above – you will see a big improvement – they have a brass plaque now. The red brick path is still there – which we thought would have been a great idea for Nottingham (creating a Robin Hood trail). Sadly that was another idea that fell by the wayside.

Looking back at that trip we learned so much and had some much enthusiasm to get things moving in Nottingham – that all seems rather wasted now. We were in America over three years ago. 12 months after the trip I blogged about the progress here. Today, although there is a new Castle working group, if we’re honest nothing has really happened.

A bit like Boston then.

The airport scan…

I was at Boston Logan Airport on Friday night – leaving for good old Blighty.


As has become an increasingly part of flying – security is a pretty important bit. At Boston they take it seriously. You do virtually undress before loading your kit into numerous trays- belts, shoes, laptops, ipads and even pennies.

But then you step inside a fully body scanner – with your hands above your head they take a naughty picture of you. Just to check you’re not concealing anything. It’s all a bit degrading – but the price to pay to avoid another 9/11? It’s a tough call.

But my son was having none of the full body scan part and so ‘refused’. The nice lady (I think she was a lady) then helpfully suggested no medical harm would come to him due to the lack of radiation – but he stood firm and said he didn’t want to be scanned. So they have to shout for a male attendant – along the lines of, “Male Opt Out” – loudly, then again. Jak was then treated to a full ‘pat down’ service which has been likened to foreplay.

In fairness the guard asked him why he had objected and he said it was a step too far and a violation. The guard didn’t disagree.

So you do have a dilemma this is sex-sci-fi stuff – true x-ray vision. Against that you have to balance the fact that there are some people out there hell-bent on bringing planes down.

As to me – I really couldn’t care less if they have picture, I just wanted to go home. As for Jak – I wonder where he got that attitude from? Le Frondeuse Jr.?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged airport scanner, body scan, naked, sci-fi, Security, x-ray

An easy ski trick – for everyone?

My ski holiday ended yesterday – today we begin the long trek home – via Boston and then Heathrow.

But I saw this little trick – performed in Tignes in France. Professional skier and rally driver Guerlain Chicherit has put his skills together and has become the first person in the world to perform an unassisted backflip in a car and execute a perfect landing on a bed of fresh powder snow.

It looks so easy – so can’t be that difficult on ski’s? Maybe next year…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged backflip, mini, Ski, Tignes

Montreal and Nottingham – an unlikely connection?

As the snow and weather worsened yesterday we skied for only an hour and a half. Visibility was down to a few metres (sorry – ‘yards’ – the Americans still use proper measurements!)


So we made a decision to ‘pop down the road’ – I am now well versed with the Americans idea of ‘popping out’. We drove 130 miles to Montreal – crossing the American Canadian Border on Highway 89 into a blizzard. In the UK when the snow hit’s we crawl around at 20mph – but not here. I was passed several times by articulated lorries – and I was doing 60mph. I figure they could see a lot more than I could!

We got to Montreal in around two-and-a-half hours. Parking was fun – we found a shopping centre but few spaces. However, everyone seemed to double park, effectively blocking each other in. So I did the same. It turned out that on certain rows you had to leave your keys in case someone wanted to get out. I was in no such row.

So we set about exploring Montreal – it was bitterly cold and the shopping centres seemed like a safe bet. What I had not realised was that the centres, in the main are all interconnected – blow ground. It’s a subterranean maze of corridors and walkways which even run under a church! It’s a clever idea – the centres are all slightly different – but you can easily move between them.

This reminded me of Nottingham’s past – we were a city back in the 1300′s of cave dwellers (or more properly paupers holes) – over 500 have been mapped. People effectively lived underground.

And it seems that the people of Montreal do too.

It was a buzzing place – as you would expect of the second largest city in Canada. What I had forgotten was that the principal language is French – and that they didn’t take my US Dollars. Well prepared then…

TV adverts USA style

Watching TV in America is only slightly less annoying than their obsession with Country Music. Adverts every 10 minutes is bad enough – but the subject matter is way beyond our conservative and plainly dull adverts.


No need to be shy here in the US. Body dysfunctional bits are perfectly good fodder for us. “Stress Sweat smells worse than ordinary sweat“. You don’t need surgery – you need pills. And if you don’t need pills because you had bad surgery then you need an Attorney. Preferably grey-haired and reassuringly smooth. With perfect teeth – TV white!

No no can even remove your moustache girls – pain free and no risk.

It’s low budget stuff – with deals to die for. Mostly the competing product is $100, but this one time offer pan (or whatever) is $9.99. But wait, that’s not all folks – if you order today (don’t delay) you get not one but two pan thingys. For $10. Amazing.

If you’re a fan of gadgets (and who isn’t?) then this is TV nirvana. Last night the deal of the day was an incredible plug extender. It’s called the side socket and it is $10. It us brilliant. You definitely need one.

As they so succinctly say, “You can go from a jumbled mess to an organised success”.

I nearly bought one – and the realised it won’t work at home. I feel a little lost.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged Adverts, Ameican TV, hair reoval, no no, pans, side socket

Country Music – what’s that all about?

I have a hire car (actually as is de rigeur here – a medium sized SUV) whilst I am here in the US. It’s useful for transporting the ski gear around. On our first night we asked how far the slopes were – there was a bit of a debate from the locals – who settled on one and a half to two miles.

The slopes are seven and a half miles away.

I can forgive them this apparent discrepancy as everything is miles apart here! The nearest town is a 30 mile drive. Which all becomes quite normal.

Although I have an iPod – it’s quite a ‘faff’ to fit it in the SUV every time we go out – so the radio comes on.

At all times of the day and on countless channels they ‘pump’ out Country Music. A sound so dire that it resembles Chinese water torture. I am not sure if the stations are all playing the same track? I think so – it sort of goes, “twang, whine, twang, twang, whine”. Then repeats. Endlessly. No matter how sad you’re feeling this can take you to a newer, lower, level. If you were suicidal then this is potentially life shortening.

It’s all as pointless as a wind chime – but slightly less tuneful?

I only know one song from C&W (I think that’s what they call it) – Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, a song so sugar coated it can take your teeth out.

But enjoy…and God Bless America for making our lives so much better with this noise. Not.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged bee gees, Country Music, Dolly Parton, human rights, Hyundai, Kenny Rogers, rsadio, Santa Fe, torture

Homespun or corporate? Not both?

After a short-ski day yesterday (it was seriously cold!) we headed off for the nearest town and the Capital of Vermont – Montpelier. Except there’s not much there. It is famed apparently for its ‘smallness’. It took about 10 minutes to look around – it was cold there too.


So we headed back to Stowe and on the way back called in at Ben & Jerry’s. This is where Ice Cream was ‘invented’. Back in the late 1970′s by two college drop-outs (why is that so often the case with these successful companies?). We were just going to grab some ice cream – figuring that this was going to be a mecca for ice cream people?

But there was a tour – which we did. Mistake.

Firstly the ‘scripted’ tour is done by a 12 year old (maybe I am getting old). She sprinkled the shotgun delivery with ‘jokes’. “Please moooove forwards”, “We d’airyate’ the milk here”. Oh dear. It was billed as education – the poor girl could not have appeared more robotic if she had tried. I had hoped to glean something – like how you make ice cream – but didn’t really.

But what was glaring was that this is now a company owned by Unilver. And it is trying to be a mom and pop business. Making out that all is sweet and innocent in how it behaves – product, economic and social mission statements are plastered around.

Someone (an American) asked whether Ben and Jerry are still involved? It turns out that Ben ‘pops in sometimes’ but they are busy with other projects. So all of their ideals are now subsumed into a corporate – of course they are! It’s called shareholder value and return!

I came away thinking that this was corporate pretending to be something else.

Perhaps their next new flavour, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Ben & Jerrys, corporate, factory, ice cream, tour, Unilever, Vermont

It could have been a disaster…

As you will have gathered from my last post – I’m away skiing. And for the first time I have come to USA – rather than Europe.


We arrived on Friday after a short transatlantic flight and collected a car. We then set off on the 200 mile journey up into Vermont – and five hours later we arrived! That was around 4.30am UK time. The Hotel looked ok, but seemed to be all locked up for the night. In fact it was. They weren’t expecting us. Fortunately the bar was still open (small mercies?).

What happened next was likely to be the difference between a really good experience and a holiday nightmare!

As it turned out the staff were brilliant – they managed to find us two rooms – gave us free drinks and promised to sort it all out in the morning. In fact there were two locals in the bar – who also joined in on the assistance front! One even suggested that if we weren’t able to sort a room we could borrow his house!

The following morning we were given a complimentary breakfast – the staff couldn’t apologise enough – although I’m not sure it was their fault.

We have since been moved to a suite – and told that we can remain.

So it does go to show that great service is still out there. Sadly I don’t come across it all that often.

If you find yourself in Vermont I can’t recommend Ye Old England Inne highly enough. customer service at its best.