Nottingham – great stuff #6

Cheese! I have an unhealthy love of the stuff.

Colwick Cheese

Colwick Cheese

Blue Stilton from the Value of Belvoir remains my all-time favourite and I know that it is a “marmite” thing (I love that too!). Stilton is ‘cooked up’ close to us but I think we can claim it as a Nottingham thing (those in Leicestershire may disagree). But Colwick Cheese is named after a place on the edge of Nottingham so that must be part of the us?

And in the last few weeks sales of the stuff have gone mad! This is mainly thanks to Jamie Oliver who made it their mission to revive the almost-forgotten cheese on Jamie And Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, which aired on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago.

The cheese, which is light and curdy, dates back to the 1600s. According to the current makers,

“Because of the way it is made; it has a unique shape, forming a bowl. The centre of the curd falls to the bottom of the mould while the sides still hold to the cheese cloth. Nottingham locals would place all sorts of flavourings into this bowl: jam; soft fruit such as strawberries, apples, pears etc. Others would eat a savoury version with onion, garlic or pieces of bread. It was also combined with cream in the hollowed out bowl and locals would spoon the two together.”

It went out of production in 1993 before making its comeback at the Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese Fair in May. It is made in the Belvoir Ridge dairy at Crossroads Farm in Eastwell, using the milk from Red Poll cows at their farm.

Since the TV show demand has sky-rocketed and it is becoming a local delicacy agin. It’s not my favourite (it’s too mild for my palette). It seems that much of the demand has come from the older generation who remember it from their younger days.

For the fact that it has made a recent return it deserves to be on the list. Oh, and I love cheese – did I mention that?

Nottingham – the business plan – SWOT analysis – part three – “O”

The third part of the analysis of the SWOT thing looks at the Opportunities we have.


We have already put in place (or are well on the way to) some great infrastructure – the tram extensions, dualling of the A453 southern access route, Ring Road improvements and the Station improvements. Some of these projects were long overdue – but are actually ‘on-site’ and due for completion on the horizon.

These should give us new impetus. These should be the catalyst for the future opportunities.

I have already touched upon the ‘soft’ skills of the City – the talented people. But what else is there? What are the opportunities.

When I was a part of the Sheriffs Commission (and I’m far from bitter about being thrown off it!) it was clear that there remains a huge opportunity to take advantage of the world-class brand that is Robin Hood. No matter that he is a myth or wears green tights! This is Nottingham’s biggest opportunity. The Castle Working Group have their second bid before the Heritage Lottery Fund – the first failed. But we should, if necessary without Government funding, find a way of capitalising on Robin Hood / The Sheriff of Nottingham and Nottingham Castle. Not I’m afraid the 1831 Riots.

Our second opportunity is to tap into the growth sectors – Bio-science, Data capture, Creativity. These can all help differentiate us. Our two world class Universities can sometimes appear to be somewhat insular and buried in ‘research’ – but if they are engaged you find a wealth of people willing to help the cause. They are as keen as anyone to make Nottingham better.

I have highlighted the plight of our shopping centres and the mess that we know as Broad Marsh. But there is a chance that whilst these are at ‘rock bottom’ we could turn this into an opportunity. Alternative uses might best be tabled now – rather than when (if) the retail market improves. We should grasp this?

There are lots of other opportunities we can look at – do you have something for the list?

Notts TV – the countdown begins

April 2014 – make a note. That’s the date Notts TV will launch. The Shane Meadows promo is below – it is very funny!

I was at the ‘studios’ on Friday night at the dry-run of a new Politics themed show – The Channel 8 Debate. It was a ‘question time’ style debate with a live studio audience drawn from a wide range of sectors. Frances Finn, ex Radio Nottingham presenter was the host. The panel was made up principally of politicians – Shadow Rail Minister & Nottingham South MP Lillian Greenwood, former Chancellor and Rushcliffe MP Kenneth Clarke, Ashfield Councillor Jason Zadrozny and Politics Professor Sue Pryce.

Although the film won’t be used in its entirety parts math be. It was a chance for a practice.

We romped through some local issues and that was great to see. A local show with local issues – surely no better a format for local TV? I thought it looked very professional and I can’t wait to see the real thing!

I even got to meet Vicky McClure!


Notts TV have the Licence for the next 14 years. There are plans according to Craig Chettle, Chairman, for the station to commission all manner of programmes – covering local sport and potentially even filming new drama.

Another great news story for Nottingham which is news itself at the moment, but will eventually deliver the news. Knowing the people involved I can see this being a great success and something a little different!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged , Craig Chettle, Frances Finn, Ken Clarke, Lilian Greenwood, Notts TV

Broad Marsh Nottingham – news (or is it?)

Intu stomped into town yesterday and with a fanfare made a joint announcement with Nottingham City Council.


They signed a conditional development agreement for intu Broadmarsh yesterday, “which will play a fundamental part in transforming the shopping experience in Nottingham.

The blurb suggests:

The signing of the agreement is an important step in the major improvements that are planned for Nottingham’s two main shopping centres over the next few years, including:

· The £40million remodelling and refurbishment at intu Victoria Centre which is already underway.
· The £150m proposed investment by intu and the City Council in the redevelopment of intu Broadmarsh, the car park and associated public realm improvements.
· Ahead of a wider development and extension of intu Victoria Centre.

So, on the face of it great news. After years of withering on the vine we are ready to get going. Well not quite.

Forgive my cynicism (and I really want this development to happen ahead of everything else in Nottingham!) but the language still remains slightly guarded.

Take this soundbite,

Mike Butterworth, chief operating officer for intu, said: “intu now has in place investment plans that will extend and upgrade the city’s two favourite shopping destinations, introduce new brands, restaurants and leisure spaces and create new and improved gateways to the city in the north and south. Work is already underway on the first of these projects with the £40million remodelling and refurbishment of intu Victoria Centre and I am really pleased that we can start to take the intu Broadmarsh plan forward as well.”

The agreement, which is subject to commercial and legal conditions, means that construction work to extend and refurbish intu Broadmarsh could start before the end of 2015.

So to be clear – Work is underway on Victoria Centre. It has started. Blokes on site – high-biz jackets adorning the place. And we can start to take Broadmarsh forward. And work could start before the end of 2015. I guess forward is better than backwards and ‘could’ is better than ‘couldn’t’.

I do realise that there are commercial sensitivities here and that the road with Intu has been rocky. The City have done well to to get this far – but wouldn’t it have been so good to be told that works had started?

My brief podcast…

I did an interview with Lisa Plkington from the Estates Gazette on all things East Midlands property market – and MIPIM 2014!

You can listen to is here.

Nottingham – great stuff #4

My number four – and not really in order – is Nottingham Contemporary. This particular blog timing is perfect as last Friday was the start of the latest show. Regrettably I couldn’t make the show.


I have been a huge supporter of the gallery since it opened and my firm were the first Business Benefactor – we still continue that support today.

The Gallery has been a ‘shot in the arm’ for Nottingham in my view. It opened at a time when we were struggling with good news stories. It was a great news story.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m no expert on contemporary art; I struggle with some of the more abstract and left-field work. But I can see that art has a huge place to play in the City. It has also exceeded all expectations in visitor numbers – 700,000 – 50% more than they thought at the outset. And it is estimated that the gallery has added £23m to the local economy since opening.

In just four years the gallery has become a key part of the City offer. But it is more than that. I think it has enabled the Creative Quarter to grow and flourish too. Having a nationally important Institution in the heart of town brings a wealth of talent (a theme is emerging!) to us. Talent breed talent.

I will go and see the current show when I get a moment. It is Tala Madani and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – it runs through to March 23rd. Even if you don’t like art you can get great food in the basement cafeteria.

Easily a Top 10 Nottingham attraction!

Nottingham – the market insite

At this time of year my firm publish the review of the previous year and compare it going back over five years. I have had to get up early each morning – for some reason those who do PR think is amusing to see me like a bear with a sore head. I don’t do mornings. But I did this week. Thrice.


Nottingham’s event was at the brilliant Nottingham Conference Centre – and it was a full house!

Some of the headlines:

* The general market is picking up
* Nottingham Offices are down – probably as a result of the WPL and current traffic nightmare
* Investments are steaming ahead

David Frankish from the CBI East Midlands was one of the first guest speakers and pulled no punches. The East Midlands has done ok, but only ok. There is room for improvement. He accepted that London was a world powerhouse but our region had the ingredients for potential growth. We need to grasp it. We have low inflation, jobless numbers are falling and Gross Value Added is predicted to increase.

Ian Curryer, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council was next and started with an apology. An acknowledgement that Nottingham had, in the past, missed opportunities. Also that the current £750m of infrastructure was causing short-term issues for moving around, but that the end result would be worth it. Ian was convinced that Nottingham was now ready to take things forward and was positive and optimistic about the future.

The general consensus in the room was one of positivity. Even Robert Hartley our MD suggested that “we never had it so good’ – although I am convinced there were a few gasps at that suggestion.

We perhaps have turned the corner. But I think we need to get a head of steam to push us through the election cycle that is going to hit us in just over one years time?

Talented Nottingham? You bet!

You will know by now that we’re trying to promote the City on various fronts over the next few months – and ‘Talented Nottingham’ is one of the key messages.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 13.30.35

My good friend and fellow blogger Nick Riley sent me some really interesting facts at the weekend. These were taken from research done in relation to the 2014 Graduate market. Specifically they looked at the Universities targeted by ‘Top Employers’.

Although you might expect that ‘Oxbridge’ would be top – they weren’t. The University of Nottingham trumped them.

Talented companies seeking talented people come to Nottingham first!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 13.31.09

But there was also news last week that one of our local companies (and Clients of my firm) had sold out. The TDX Group sold for £200m. This was huge story for Nottingham. It demonstrates the ‘talent’ agenda, and it shows visibly that we are a national centre for data analytics and software development.

Data analytics should be right up there on our list of USP’s – evidenced by this deal!

Talented, creative and bloody clever?

Nottingham – great stuff #3

Rock City. Period.


Although it isn’t the biggest venue on the planet – it still attracts some of the best live music in the UK. It seems that the artists from around the world see this as a must-do gig.

I saw Bowie there in 1997 – on his Earthing tour. But I have also seen some other favourites – Squeeze, Stranglers and last year The Boomtown Rats. The place isn’t intended to be a 4* hotel bar. It is grungy. The ceiling is stained with beer (or at least I assume it is beer). The carpets are ground into the floor boards. The music is embedded in the walls. Decorations are minimal.

The first band to play there were The Undertones, led by Feargal Sharkey, finishing the first ever Rock City gig with a rendition of Teenage Kicks – officially the best song ever according to the late John Peel. The lyrics are even on his gravestone!

It suited the punk revolution – it is slightly subversive and edgy.

I’m not sure what else it is that makes this place so important – perhaps it’s the intimacy. The stairs provide a slightly different view. The mixing desk is surrounded by fans – if you’re nice they may even drop you the setlist!It is loud – and hot. ‘Red Stripe‘ is the beverage of choice – in a tinny of course.

It is a key part of the Nottingham story and I guess fits at the end of the ‘creative’ element – the pinnacle of a career creating musical stuff can be found here.

Deserves a place in Nottingham’s collective heart!

Nottingham – a key message?

When you start thinking about Nottingham and the way in which we can sell ourselves you often fall into a trap of sounding as though you could be in any of our competitor cities. It’s a bit like walking down a High Street and seeing Jessops, Claire’s Accessories, ad nauseam. You could be forgiven for not knowing where you are.


And you can’t always rely on the stuff which people expect. In Nottingham we have great news around the Tram (lines 1 and 2), the dualling of the A453, Station improvements and the improvements to the ring road. These are just glue – good glue – but just glue.

When I was pressing for us to have a Mayor one of the things that crossed my mind was that, as a City, we have ‘great ingredients but no master-chef‘. This isn’t a criticism of the politicians per se – simply that they have a short-term political agenda – by necessity. I started out in this ‘plan’ by saying that our horizon needs to be 20+ years – not five years. This was touched upon by Bill Grimsey too – see yesterdays blog.

I guess that’s what I’m pushing for – a longer term plan – but with some vision. And a key message. The latter is something we have been in search of for many years.

The City are opting for ‘from good the great‘ – which is OK. But it doesn’t really tell people about what we are about – what’s beneath the skin – what makes us a different. A few years ago we used ‘City of Rebels’ – which, although it can be misunderstood (!), does sum us up!

This year when we head off for MIPIM in the South of France on our annual ‘promotion’ of Nottingham on the world stage we will adopt two key themes. The first is that we are a City of Talented people – see my post last week about NTU. But also that this is a ‘Cool’ place – nodding a literal hat at Jake Bugg et al and a more lateral nod to the fact the South-East seems to be overheating – Nottingham can offer some respite.

Fundamentally this is all positive stuff.