Jim Taylor RIP

It hasn’t been a great few weeks for losing people I know. Three in fact.


But Jim Taylor deserves a special mention. He sadly passed away a week ago. There has been plenty written about him both locally and nationally. You can read the obituaries in the Nottingham Post here and in The Guardian here.

But a group of Nottingham folk managed to collect over a period of time some of the comments he handed out. I really mean ‘insults’. They are lovingly known as Jimisms. It would be a fitting tribute to Jim if you were able to weave them into your everyday dealings. They need to be delivered with precision and love. Some are true gems.

‘He is coming back to Nottm in November – assume the brace position’

‘you could give everyone a seminar on all you know about housing policy while I nip to the loo’

‘That doesn’t change the price of fish’

‘I wouldn’t send him to post a letter’

‘They’ve put their lids on top of their pens’

‘He couldn’t sell you something you wanted’

‘He is banging on the window with a sponge’

‘One of us looks very seductive but I fear it is not me’

‘I think I am a bit confused and I may have had a diary malfunction’

‘You can slap my legs when you see me next time’

‘You could see the hot air rising out of his trousers’

‘She was brutally ugly’

‘Its amateur night there at the moment …’

‘The cogs were spinning but the lights had gone out’

‘My response rhymes with Duck and Cough’

I wasn’t spared – in his last tweet at our Market Insite event he commented, “At the Innes England Insite event and can I say how radiant and plumtuous Tim Garratt is looking“.

Just wait until I see him… We’ll all miss you Jim.

Nottingham goes to London

Last night I was at the Invest in Nottingham Club event in London. Actually at the Skyloft at Millbank – where 200 odd guests assembled.


It was an impressive location and a celebration of Nottingham in the smoke.

We had an impressive line up speakers ranging from the Rt. Hon. Greg Clark – Minister for Cities, Sir John Peace – Chairman of Burberry, Experian and Standard Chartered Bank (also Lord Lieutenant of Nottingham in his spare time) and Graham Cartledge – Chairman of Benoy Architects. There were also a few folk gathered who were recognisable – Ken Clarke MP, Chris Leslie MP and Graham Allen MP.

There was a theme for the evening – which was that Nottingham was the place to do business. But more than that there was a focus on the Creative Quarter – where it is clear Nottingham’s future lies. It is not difficult to see that this can be a real focus for the future. Our messages about what we are for all lie in here. We can – and do – create things. The sector is quietly getting on, growing new businesses and building on old ones too.

We have some incredibly talented people in the city – in no small part thanks to our two world class Universities.It is now time to embrace them and encourage them. We need to keep them in the City and then tell the world about the clustering of that talent. That will impact on all of us…

All in all it was a good event to showcase Nottingham. The view, as you can see, wasn’t too bad either!

MIPIM 2013 – a round up

My 10th MIPIM came to an end on Friday, the last three I have been variously involved in organising Team Nottingham – the private sector group of companies who ensured Nottingham retained a presence at this world property show – after the City Council couldn’t afford to fund the event.

Team Nottingham - decked out in Paul Smith!

Team Nottingham – decked out in Paul Smith!

All in all it was a pretty successful year. I think we had our best MIPIM ever – with three funded events. First a dinner for over 50 people, secondly a drinks party of around 200 and finally a brunch for 40 on the last day of the show. We kept Nottingham in the press and held our profile.

The numbers there were down I think. There was a story on the last day that out of 20,000 pre-sold delegate passes some 5,000 had not been collected. I don’t know whether this was true, but the restaurants seemed quieter. The weather was mixed – but it was the weather away from the Cote D’Azur which seemed to keep people away.

I met more (new) people than I have ever met previously – in 5 days I attended 16 ‘events’ – which is great for networking but less good on the waistline. The feet take a battering too as you walk between venues and stand for hours. Fortunately our apartment was within walking distance of the main hall (lovingly known as the bunker), so it was possible to get back and spend some time resting the feet!

So my next task over the coming week or so is to pick up those business cards and make contact again – to follow up. We have some really interesting opportunities.

Finally, there will be a handing over of the baton for MIPIM 2014 back to the City. If I’m honest I’m a little relieved, this is a big task which I try to fit into my day job. So to hand it over will be good. It also means I won’t have to deal with the conflict that can arise when a small group of people try to do the right thing – but face criticism and some hostility from various quarters. I don’t need that hassle anymore!

I’ll be at MIPIM next year. In fact, I’m looking forward to it as I think two major projects I’m involved in will be on-site in the East Midlands – so we will be able to shout about them…

MIPIM 2013

I have been a little quiet on the MIPIM front for a while. This is partly because we were unsure as to whether we could pull off another private sector event – as we have done at the last two Cannes property shows.


Unfortunately the organisers don’t make life easy for the sort of proposal we have – they are more used to dealing with big regions and cities across the globe. A group of mad-keen enthusiasts selling a City in the midlands is a bit below their radar. They don’t get my funding model (lot’s of private sector types throwing cash in a pot to help a cash-strapped council!)

But we have overcome the difficulties and raised over £30,000 to make sure Nottingham is represented on the world stage. We will be in Cannes in March 2013.

We are working on how we promote Nottingham – but it will include a 5* dinner – which will have an exclusive invite list. We’ll also have our ever-popular drinks reception too. Brunch will probably be our final event – in this four day show.

We have some new sponsors this year Team Nottingham now looks like:

Innes England
CPMG Architects
Couch Perry Wilkes
Rizc McCay
Morgan Tucker
UK Regenration
Miller Birch
Cartwright Communications
Nottingham City Council / Invest in Nottingham Club

We have much work to do, but we all consider the prize worthy of the effort (and cash).

I’ll update the blog as we get more information – in the meantime if you are going to be at MIPIM 2013 – do let us know!

The Invest in Nottingham Club

As I intimated last weekend, I went to the Invest in Nottingham Club AGM last week. I’ll shorten the club to IINC…

The Club has grown significantly in the last couple of years. There are now 158 members (up a third) – and last year 23 events were held. I went to quite a few (and was at the heart of the MIPIM one!). The Club met with around 1200 people at these events in the year. That’s a good reach!

Of course it’s not all parties! The Club have become the organisation who can mobilise a group of people if the City get enquiries from companies looking to come to set up shop in Nottingham. In the year they helped with 149 enquiries. Sadly we didn’t land Standard Chartered or the Green Bank, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The club work alongside the Invest in Nottingham Team at the Council. And this is perhaps the way forward. As Public Finances continue to get squeezed it is going to fall to the private sector to help. I think we are at the start of that road. It takes time for the Council to get comfortable with getting into bed with the Private sector.

One of the big issues is that we often disagree with them (you already know I do!). But I see no reason to apologise for that. Paul Southby, Chairman of IINC put it succinctly – “we don’t have to agree with the Council all of the time, it’s healthy to have a debate. It is a part of a grown up relationship to disagree”.

So what about 2012/13? The club have set some goals – it still focusses on the growth points – Bio-Medical, Green technology and the digital and creative classes. But the key one for me is the City Centre. We must make sure that the City doesn’t slip further in retail tracings! But that’s a very big subject!

Nottingham v Derby

As you will know if you read my blog, I was at MIPIM last week. As the organiser of Team Nottingham – and having been born here (and spent all of my working life here) it’s not difficult to see where my allegiances lie. But, my firm have a Derby office and we sponsor (as well as Team Nottingham) some of the Derby City presence.

Their day was Wednesday last week, with a breakfast and formal dinner. My firm paid for the latter. It was a smallish affair, 15 people, including the Chief Executive of the Council, Council Leader and a number of others.

There were some interesting discussions – civilised mostly – but heated in part.

The Leader of the Council, Philipa Hickson, challenged the room asking why none of us sought political office – it seems we snipe at those in such position, but rarely put ourselves forward. Fair point. Although I might suggest that of you can’t stand the heat perhaps you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.

There was then a challenge to Derby – asking why, despite the D2N2 LEP, the two cities didn’t work closer together more often. The example was that Nottingham had the Enterprise Zone and Derby had won some Regional Growth Fund monies – why didn’t the two Cities put that offer together and ‘market’ it to a wider audience.

Cllr Hickson response was whether Nottingham wanted to share in his RGF pot. He said that Nottingham had not let him forget that they had won the money. In the next breath he expressed his dismay at why Nottingham had been selected for the EZ, “Nottingham get more than their fair share”.

So my response to him about his earlier challenge was that his view of the EZ / RGF position was why I would’t do politics. This polarised view is something we don’t do in business.

In defence of him and his Council, I can see that they were seen in previous years as the ugly sister, but I don’t see this today. And I think that Nottingham and Derby do miss out by not working together. But don’t expect that to change anytime soon … unless the Leadership changes… And then perhaps the rivalry is so deep rooted that it will be generations before the two City’s collaborate.

MIPIM 2012 – starting tomorrow

I can’t quite believe where the last 12 months went! It seems like 5 minutes since I was at MIPIM 2011. I also can’t quite believe that I was ‘elected’ to run Team Nottingham for the second year running. Next year I am not sure it is my turn again!

Team Nottingham are made up this year of 8 firms – Innes England (my firm), Gleeds, CPW, cpmg, Miller Birch, Geldards, Morgan Tucker and Rizc McCay.

And some of them are MIPIM ‘virgins’. I have been asked over the last couple of weeks for some helpful hints, so in the spirit of trying to be helpful…

1. Shoes – don’t wear new shoes. MIPIM is not the place to break them in. Your feet take a battering.

2. Sleep – get as much as you can – the days are long – breakfast meetings through to dinners. Bar Romma serve until everyone goes home (usually around 6am allegedly)

3. Water. You need to consume it as often as possible, together with caffeine. Alcohol is plentiful and it is not unusual for event staff to thrust champagne and bacon sandwiches at you before 9am. Liver damage is a hazard.

4. Sun and cold. In the last 8 years I have only seen sunshine, but the evenings get quite cold – so it’s quite easy to get a chill. A jumper is useful.

5. Money. It is eye-wateringly expensive. Beer is around 7 euros a bottle. We pay so they sell. Nothing is cheap in Cannes – if you are feeling really flush venture into the Louis Vuitton shop – where there are no prices…

6. Kebabs. It is possible to get canapé sickness. A real cure is a kebab – there are several shops that stay open ‘all hours’. This is highly nutritional and healthy food. And a welcome respite from this little scraps of food!

So that’s it really – a pretty easy week of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, meetings and networking events. And back home for a rest at the weekend!

The internet – faster and faster … essential?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Autumn Statement the creation of a new £100 million Urban Broadband Fund (UBF) that will create up to ten super-connected cities across the UK with 80-100Mbps (megabits per second) broadband connectivity. That’s fast!

Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and up to six further cities are going to receive support from the fund over the next three years to deliver these speeds.

I think that the ability of super-fast broadband is going to become a critical feature of our cities of the future. It is incredible to think that the internet is just a few years old and that, back then, we survived on dial up lines. But today most businesses are 100% reliant on the internet; either to communicate with itself or its clients. Our ability to gain information is critical.

If Nottingham wants to remain competitive then it needs to be on this new backbone. We need to lobby Government that this is essential. We have a fantastic creative quarter, centred on Antenna. For that to continue to grow it needs, as we all do, to have the very fastest connections we can get. I do know that my friends at Invest in Nottingham are coordinating Nottingham’s efforts to secure this for us.

It is not difficult to see that this is the future. As the capacity increases, the use of file sharing / collaborative working and video conferencing will become more useful. There is not doubt that our world is getting faster, travel times and costs are getting worse, so that points to a newer method of communication.

We are starting to get enquiries from occupiers that now include broadband connectivity as part of their wish list. This super-fast connectivity would give us a competitive advantage…

MIPIM 2012 – the planning starts now…

Actually this is not true. It started a couple of months ago. MIPIM is the world property show, held each year in Cannes.

For some reason, I seem to have ended up with the organisation again for Team Nottingham. It can’t be my turn next year!

I know I am getting old – MIPIM comes round with alarming regularity – it seems like five minutes since were there ‘on our own’ for the first time. You might recall that in the austere times we live in Nottingham City Council chose not to attend the show last year. The private sector paid for Lorraine Baggs from Invest in Nottingham to attend.

This year we have attracted another private sector sponsor – so the 8-strong team is now – Innes England, Gleeds, CPMG Architects, Couch Perry Wilkes, Miller Birch, Morgan Tucker, Geldards and Rizk McCay. The team is made up of teams who can make things happen in Nottingham – but we still need Lorraine Baggs and so we are paying for her representation again.

Last year there were 18,600 registered delegates from 90 Countries. But more importantly there were 4,000 Investors and Financial Institutions and 240 Corporate end-users. These are the people we are after!

For the first time, Low cost airline bmibaby has launched a special service from East Midlands Airport to Nice. The flight will depart from East Midlands Airport on 6th March 2012 and will arrive back on 9th March 2012. bmibaby is the only airline to offer flights to the MIPIM conference from East Midlands Airport.

We already have two events booked – a VIP Dinner and a drinks reception. We have more to do yet, but the foundations are set.

My personal belief is that Nottingham needs to be at the show. It not an option. We need to make sure we meet and greet potential investors in the City. This sort of investment doesn’t happen overnight. But not being there looks like we might be closed?

Invest in Nottingham – go on!

On Monday Nottingham hosted another showcase event for potential investors. It was Invest in Nottingham day!

Last week at Downing Street a couple of our national clients commented on how good it was to see Nottingham promoting ourselves. One in particular, who does work in Bristol, suggested we were miles ahead of them. But that is no reason to pat ourselves on the back – we need to compete with other cities – Birmingham, Leeds and the like.

I was able to to attend two of the ‘events’ n the day – the lunch at Nottingham Trent University and (another) visit to Antenna.

The lunch, sponsored by Westfield, was really well attended and the keynote talk by David Greenaway, VC at the University of Nottingham was particularly well received. David is passionate about Nottingham – and outlined the impact the University has on the City. It has a turnover of £530m, but its economic impact is estimated to be £1bn each year. Their ground breaking work with the MRI scanner was mentioned (I learned for fly many years ago with Sir Peter Mansfield) but latterly there is much excitement about the new early cancer detection test. This is currently being trialled in the USA and the signs are apparently encouraging.

It was also apparent that our two Universities have a wider impact on the City. They contribute to the health and well-being of the place. They help in developing skills and adding to the arts and culture. Of course latterly they are making a global impact too – with the new campuses in Ningbo and Malaysia adding a student cohort of 8,500.

We still have some great stories to tell about Nottingham – but we mustn’t rest on our laurels. We have to keep pushing for the High Speed Two train and the widening of the A453. Our tram extension will be great news. The extensions of Broad Marsh and Victoria Centre will help too.

We have to keep these stories alive.

I was reminded of an old adage during the talks – it’s better to travel than to arrive. And this surely must be a moniker for us. Lets keep travelling… onwards and upwards!