The Parking Angels?

We know that our fair city doesn’t really love the motorist. In last nights Nottingham Post was a story about the fine-take – which totalled £1.65m last year – with 60,000 tickets issued. That’s not bad for a days work.


Some will say that if you over-stay your allotted time you should pay; others feel that the traffic enforcement chappies are over-zealous. Of course it has two effects – it gives some people a job and – more importantly – it raises revenue for our cash-strapped Council – although they argue that any cash left over after costs is ploughed back into ‘better parking facilities, improved public transport or more facilities for pedestrians and cyclists’. Hear, hear.

Lets face it – the fine is just part of the risk you take in coming into the city – along with bus lane and speed cameras.

But I heard a great story last week from a good friend. He was walking along High Pavement and noticed a traffic warden (he used a slightly different terminology for the man in the uniform) about to start the process of putting a penalty Charge Notice on a car – the ticket in the windscreen was out of time. So he bought a ticket for £2 and extended the time by an hour. The little man was perplexed – but my friend suggested that this was his good deed for the day. Honourable and rewarding?

Well it certainly was – a week later he rushed back to his car – having been held up in a meeting – 20 minutes after his ticked had expired. And someone had returned the favour!

So, the parking angels are at work and I encourage people to do a good deed if they see an Attendant about to slap a £35 ticket on a car – buy them 30 minutes (usually a pound) … you never know one day it may be you in need…

Why you must have a dash-cam

The new GoPro cameras are fantastic and can produce TV quality images. Apparently in Russia they are fitted to lots of cars.

There is a reason – they can produce film type stunt scenes in real life.

My mate Matt Dunn at the squash club sent me this little compiliation – which I feel compelled to share!

You have to watch this selection on video to believe it. And you will wince – repeatedly… Apparently no one was injured in the making of these clips. Well, not that they’ll admit.

Re:Fest 2013 – new arrangements

I blogged a while ago about Re:Fest 2013 – a new sort of festival. It was supposed to happen last week, but for lots of reasons it didn’t. You can read about it here.


Well, after a lot of re-organising the festival will now happen – but the date has shifted to 17th and 18th September. The venue is the same – the Sandfields Centre on Derby Road, Lenton, Nottingham.

The event is going to be free and is going to be focussed on how we can make Lenton a better place – the working title is a ‘vision for Lenton’. It will be a real life project in a real life location. I was at a planning meeting last week in London and the ideas for content are really inspiring. There will be some leading thinkers and speakers.

It’s a no-nonsense festival – I have tried to sum it up with a music connection!

John Houghton from Shared intelligence summed up the draft content succinctly:

- The big, shiny attempts at regeneration haven’t (always) worked;

- There’s a lot of interest in the very small scale, the bottom up;

- But is that sufficient? – the very local can’t do everything;

- How do we get developers, activists, residents talking as equals? Well…

- The festival is an experiment in trying to do just that.

A perfect summary!

If you are interested fill the form in and I’ll pass your details on…

The RIBA Sterling Prize 2013

Last week the short-list was announced for the 2013 prestigious Stirling Prize – the highest accolade in Architecture. I was delighted to see that my friends at Hawkins Brown in London are shortlisted for the amazing Park Hill scheme in Sheffield.

Russell Brown isn’t just a founding partner – he’s a Nottingham boy too. And proud of it!

I wish him and his partners well, you can see the video about the scheme below!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Hawkins Brown, Park Hill, RIBA, Russell Brown, Sheffield, Stirling

Domino’s Pizza – where time stands still

I was at the Twenty Twenty cricket in the week. I went last year and enjoyed it so much I decided to return again. Partly due the complimentary ticket courtesy of a good mate.


It was even more confusing than last time. We didn’t play Jack Duckworth – but Twenty Twenty became Niner Niner – which doesn’t have the same ring. The match was delayed until 8.30pm – so the period from 6pm was literally ‘watching grass grow’.

I got hungry watching.

I had observed a number of people sporting Domino’s Pizza boxes – which set the taste buds off. So a trip to Domino’s ensued.

The forst part was pretty good – we ordered two pizza’s – gave our name and was told that it would be about 10 minutes or so. Then on a computer screen my name popped up with ’8 minutes wait’. I was impressed. Not so impressed with the girl who had an odd name on her badge “Charlotte 1245″. I told her I thought it was ‘unusual’. She smirked. In between talking at the telephones which were constantly ringing. She glowered at the handset (it was on the hook) and told it that ‘she was in no mood…’.

But all of this customer service banter soon lost its shine as we realised that the 8 minutes didn’t actually change. In fact if didn’t change for 40 minutes.


We have several chats. Culminating in her explanation as to what had gone wrong. In essence they don’t decide whose food gets cooked – the computer does. And if people phone in they get priority. As if that isn’t bad enough they can’t actually tell you where your food is. So you just have to wait. It was not possible to tell me if my food was in the oven (even when the computer suggested it was) – we would only know that when it came out.

Domino’s Pizza – your staff in West Bridgford were surly to the point of rudeness. Your computer system resembles a broken toilet and the suggestion that you are perfectionists is one of the most ridiculous suggestions I have ever heard.

Bill Grimsey – part two

Bill Grimsey would live with the phrase, ‘the proof is in the pudding’. Nor is he under any illusion that this is going to be a tough call. The answers to the problem are complex and we are not going to see an immediate turnaround.

The independent shops may survive

The independent shops may survive

Part of our lunch last week was taken up with the ideas that are emerging for what we actually do to save the High Street from oblivion.

This was the interesting part.

As I suggested yesterday we need to be sure that we as a community are ready for change – this is a major assumption! We then need to set an economic blueprint. This is, in effect a business plan for our Cities. It will look at the strengths and weaknesses.It will pick out the tourism and heritage strengths – the things that differentiate us. Our Unique Selling Points are going to be critical. The vanilla High Street has a very limited shelf life. We have to find the things that make us different.

Technology is going to have more and more of an impact on us. We need to find a way to embrace it – we can’t fight it.

We know that price and convenience have driven us to where we are. But what about experience and emotion? It’s hard to get an emotional reaction from a phone screen. It’s had to feel the texture of clothes on a computer. The future needs to be different to today, but ‘places’ can still offer something. It is often said that we might remember the physical attributes of a place, but we will almost certainly remember how it made us feel. That needs to be tapped.

Community places, health and well-being and social space should all feature in the future.

How this all pans out will be fascinating – but the critical thing is that we must get this right!

Bill Grimsey – the lunch!

As I hinted at last week I had a very interesting and inspiring lunch on Thursday in London. I met Bill Grimsey, author of Sold Out – the story of the High Street. I blogged about him first here a few weeks ago.


Our lunch was in central London and I had nearly two hours of his wisdom and view on the retail world.

I had a view about Portas (see here) and he shares a similar view. Others have said that if you ask a window-dresser to write a report on the state of retailing, what you will get is … window dressing. Harsh perhaps, but Portas is a sticky plaster on a structural fault.

Bill is a proper retailer – he cut his teeth running real shops. He has a forensic knowledge of retailer and retailers.

After the critical acclaim of his book he isn’t just leaving it there – he is running a Grimsey Commission – which is going to present to Government in the Autumn. I had an isight into the sort of story the Government are going to hear.

There is a look back and there is analysis of where we are now. The history is important. That looks at how convenience and price have become the driving force for consumers. Shops have had to respond – hence you can’t simply blame the supermarkets, they have only done what we demanded!

We are a society which is time-poor.

But the really interesting part of the report will be where we need to go next. What we need to do to ensure that our High Streets don’t become row upon row of boarded up shops.

Tomorrow I’ll look at some of the ideas and concepts that have already been identified. But until then the question we need to think about is,

Are we ready for change“.

The 15th Nottingham Contemporary Exhibition

I was a guest at a dinner last night at the Nottingham Contemporary – before the food there was a chance to see the new exhibition which starts at the weekend. You can see that the food was a work of art in itself!


This one has been five years in gestation and is curated by Alex Farquharson in conjunction with Tate St Ives.

Aquatopia has a decidedly seaside feel. It is the story of how the ocean and its species have exercised the imagination across cultures and time.

There are over 150 pieces – including an amazing J W Turner painting from 1845 – Sunrise and Sea monsters.

I loved this exhibition – sometimes I struggle with the Contemporary and abstract stuff on show. But i think Alex has curated a really good show here. There is a really strong theme and some stunning pieces of art. The story of the ocean is brought to life, with the fantasy pieces sharing pedestals with real creatures.

The Oceans are vastly unexplored – it is reckoned we have only ‘discovered’ 10% of the worlds oceans – so there is a rich seam of material for those who make myths or have a wild imagination!

You should go and see this exhibition – Nottingham Contemporary continues to be a huge positive news story for Nottingham and this show is one of the best yet. The show runs until 22 September…

38 marathons back to back?

Just occasionally I come across something which is truly awe-inspiring. This week I was told of an attempt by Nottingham-born Paralympian Richard Whitehead MBE who is attempting to run the length of Britain this summer.


Richard sets off from John O’ Groats on 13 August and will aim to run a marathon every day in his way to Lands End. His only stop-off will be in Nottingham for his 5 kilometre mass participation run before he finishes on 23 September, after 38 days of running and almost 1,000 miles.

He is asking people to join him on the run in his bid to raise money for two special charities: “One of my goals is to raise £1 million for two charities that are close to my heart – Scope and Sarcoma UK. My friend Simon Mellows died of sarcoma and I want to try and give something back. Scope is just a fantastic charity that does so much for people living with disability.”

“I also want to show people what you can achieve if you put your mind to it which is why I’ve called the event ‘Richard Whitehead Runs Britain – Celebrating Life Without Limits’. I am inviting everyone to come and join me at Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment and to help make it a great event.”

The event in Nottingham will be on 8 September and Capital One are Richard’s sponsors for the Nottingham event – their investment means that for every £1 raised, £2.25 will go to the two charities.

The aim is to have 3,000 people run. You can enter here.

Even if you can’t do the run I wonder if you would do me a favour and re-tweet this post – so that we get maximum exposure for this great challenge! Thanks!!

The end of the valuer?

My professional Institution (the RICS) has commissioned an independent inquiry to consider the challenges facing the UK property valuation profession and look at solutions. The inquiry will take evidence from a range of organisations working across the property sector including banks, building societies, insurers, panel managers, property valuers and their clients.

Following the inquiry a report will be produced based on the evidence with recommendations for all parties to help address the balance of risk and reward and maintain high standards in valuation which is a vital professional service that underpins underpinning economic stability and consumer confidence.

And that is the official blurb.


So what is really happening?

Well, there are a number of firms who are now refusing to provide professional valuations. Some can’t as they haven’t applied for Registered Valuer status. But others are simply turning the work away. They consider that the risk reward profile is madness. Fees are incredibly low for the time needed to properly report with all of the due diligence ticked off. But then the cost of failure can be catastrophic.

we carry Professional Indemnity Insurance – the costs of which are rising as the Insurance market decides that we are too much of a risk!

We are coming to an interesting period where some valuations done in 2007/8 at the height of the market will be seeing some of the biggest falls in value. And the Banks are looking for someone to blame. Surveyors with a rich seam of PI Insurance are right in the line.

And this is the real reason why some valuers are turning their backs on this work. It simply isn’t worth doing …

Earlier in my career I recall a discussion about valuation – and the suggestion it is an art not a science. And part of that is a judgement – where we give an opinion. Sadly those days are gone – it is now closer to a science, it is an opinion with quite a lot of mechanical process – and certainly less and less of an art.