The Muppet Show….

This is superb. WARNING – it contains adult language.

Having been the victim of the Tram works for the last 12 months at NG2 I can fully understand where they are coming from!

It’s a small world?

I’m across the big pond as I write this. I have been in New York but now have hit a bitingly cold Toronto. I’m here on holiday for a few days with my son Jak. We’re back in New York on Wednesday and then back in the UK next weekend.


I couldn’t help but reflect on my travels in the last week. It’s not been great for the planet. Nor for my body clock!

I jotted down that in the last 7 days, so far I have travelled just over 3,400 miles…

214 miles from Nottingham to Hunstanton and back
113 miles to Watford
36 miles from Watford to central London and back
113 miles from Watford to Nottingham
128 miles from Nottingham to Heathrow
3,391 miles (approximately) from Nottingham to JFK in New York
347 miles from New York to Toronto

And as you read this my day is about to start with a 2 hour drive to Niagra Falls – and then back to Oshawa tonight for a Barenaked Ladies concert! The miles keep piling up!

I couldn’t help but wonder today what people would have thought about this 100 years ago? To give some contact to the world over 100 years ago – in Nottingham it is worth a few minutes of you time to watch this amazing video – of life in front of a tram (trolley-cars?). They would surely think that this pace of life was mad!

This week may be a bit sporadic in terms of posts – I’ll post if I find interesting things that I can add to the Nottingham plan – but otherwise, life will return to normal next week with some more great stuff about Nottingham – and the business plan….

Notingham – the business plan – SWOT analysis – part two – “W”

I covered off, as best I can, what I saw as the Strengths of Nottingham last week. And as this is a warts ‘n all approach we need to think about some of the weaknesses?


There are some, for starters…

My starting point won’t surprise you. It is Broadmarsh Centre. It is the elephant (or Intu) in the room. It is dragging the City down as each week goes by. Although the City are keen to get Intu to invest (even putting their own money up) there is no sign of a start date. It is depressing and is damaging to the City.

The second is that, although the long-term effect of the major infrastructure work will be great for Nottingham, the current mess is damaging to business in the short-term and potential damaging inward investment. Getting around the place at the moment is painful. And if you pay the Workplace Parking Tax (Levy) you get all of the downside of payments and mess with none of the upside. The inexorable rise for business is also detached from reality. I have touched before on the Tax not being marginal and this remains a permanent thorn in the side of business.

Alongside the improvement in public transport we should also address the issue of the motorist – who seems to have a hard time in Nottingham. It is known that some of our local politicians despise the motorist. Parking fines add to Council coffers and we seem to introduce more and more restrictions (think about the temporary bus lane camera outside Loxley House for the Station bus service) – it’s still there. Raking cash in! Car drivers are not the Devil incarnate. Parking charges in some car parks are nothing short of robbery.

One of the long-term problems the City has (and is not untypical) is that people don’t really live in the City. The effect of this is that people are happy to go in, behave badly, go home to a nice suburb! We need people to live in our cities again, the trouble become less prevalent.

What are your bug-bears?


I’m not here right now. But thanks for dropping by. If you were thinking about visiting Nottingham I wouldn’t. Over the last few weeks it has become increasingly impossible to actually do anything here that I have decided to call it a day. Since I now probably spend an extra hour a day in my car queuing to get somewhere I have really lost the will. There’s little point leaving a message as there’ll be millions when I do come back. If I come back. I would ordinarily suggest you try someone else if you need help – but they’re not here either. Some have sadly passed away waiting in the traffic queues around the City. Some have forgotten what they were doing. Some are just going round in endless diversions. If you like traffic jams – call anytime or anywhere around the City – you’ll love it!

How difficult is it to business in 2013?

I was trying desperately to avoid being negative on my blog. You’ll notice I have been quieter than usual – I am really busy at work at the moment. This probably bodes well for the property market – yes there is a bit of life in it…


And this particular post isn’t about trying to run a business in Nottingham at the moment. In case you don’t live here – it is an utter nightmare. My advice – stay away. It pains me to say this – but getting around this fair city is nothing short of a living nightmare! I can add probably 30 minutes to my day to get to and from my office – due to the Tram works. Telling me the long term gain will be worth it is likely to induce a fit of rage.

No, this post is about pensions. This Government – and previous ones have so messed up the systems that business is now having to pick up the pension mess. At my board meeting this week we were told that we need to start a process of registering staff on the new ‘NEST‘ scheme. The cost to set up – £15,000 and 1% of our ‘salary bill’ this year – next year it’s 2% then 3% the following year. In the first three years this will amount to c. £70,000.

Ignoring the ridiculous amount of red tape – think about the money – over a three year period this could be two jobs?

We pay a high rate of tax, National Insurance, VAT and all manner of other hidden taxes. The Government collect it all – make a mess of it and then expect (require) us to sort it out.

Still – you need to read about our MP’s pension arrangements to see just how this works – there’s a great article here.


How green are trams?

The works outside my office continue to provide fascination – the construction is quite intricate. We also have a Banksman – whose job it is to keep asleep at the entrance to the tram work area.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 23.19.10

In reality the mess is fairly horrendous. The traffic routes change frequently and we have temporary – and rather silly traffic lights (which people generally ignore). The lanes are narrow in part. It’s just an accident waiting to happen.

I guess that there are probably 1,000 cars which use the NG2 business park each work day. We have some big users – Speedo, Geldards, Experian and the like.

But from next week we have a new menace.

You can currently turn right and left into the park – but the wise people that run the system have decreed that there is to be a left turn only. Those of us wanting to turn right as we usually do must now turn left – after a diversion. The diversion is 2.2 miles.

So if we assume that 50% of the traffic comes into the estate turning right – that’s 500 cars twice a day (most people go out for lunch) doing 2.2 miles extra. For four months! That could be 80 + days..

500 x 2 x 2.2 x 80 = 176,000 extra miles!

I tried to get a carbon calculator to work this out – but they think it silly that you would do 176,000 miles – but you can see from the picture the effect – if you times the figures by 1,000.

Or in English – that’s like driving round the earth 7 times…

How green is the tram?? Especially as it’s not running yet?

And don’t start me on the fact that we have to pay the Workplace Parking Tax (Levy) for the pleasure of this.

[I do realise that this is a very unscientific approach for those of you with maths degrees - but I'm #justsayin]

Nottingham Transport – part two

We are having a major facelift at Nottingham Station – it will provide a new transport hub – with a tram bridge over the station. Forget that this is the ugliest bridge in the world – the connectivity is important.


The Station has been in a bit of a mess for the last 18 months or so, we have a new disconnected car park (read my blog here) and the front of the station is boarded up. Temporarily the ticket office is in a portakabin on Station Street – opposite the Council offices.

But the real fun starts when Nottingham Station gets properly closed for around 6 weeks from mid-July. This is so the track can be upgraded. If you’re coming from London the closest you’ll get is Beeston.

But last week the Council decided that the route to the station booking office should be limited to buses and taxi’s only. So we poor car drivers are barred. Helpfully there’s a camera – and they’re not going to fine us for the next couple of weeks – whilst we get used to the idea. Not content with putting this restriction in during the track closure they have started it now and are running it for 18 months?

Why not just shut the station altogether?

The only time I go to Nottingham now is to pick up clients who have travelled up from London. It’s going to make a great impression when I tell them they have to walk around the station (10 mins?) to the new drop off zone.

Joined up thinking? Certainly not. Anti- Car? Yep – sound familiar?

Nottingham Tram – a slightly different take

You will know that I have a mixed view on the Tram – it’s like the Curates Egg – good in parts. But the mess at the moment and the Workplace Parking Tax (Levy) are not good things.


I was contacted last week by someone who does like trams – and is about to draw attention to the Nottingham Tram system.

In 2010 Adham Fisher visited every tram stop on the system – in a time of one hour 26 seconds! And he thinks he can beat that time.

Adham is an urban rail racer from Leicester.

He has attempted 14 times the Guinness World Record for visiting every station on the London Underground as quickly as possible. Having been to New York last year to attempt the corresponding record there, he has done the same in many other cities, drawing attention to public transport to the extent of being interviewed on breakfast TV in Toronto, presented with a personalised station sign by the Chicago Transit Authority president and played on stage in a theatre production about Chicago trains.

But this Friday and Saturday, Adham will tackle the Nottingham Tram for his very first urban rail race of 2013. However, he already has an eye on 2014.

“Lines 2 and 3, under construction now, will make the network much more challenging in this regard when they enter service next year,” he says. “Certainly, going to every stop will take much longer than an hour. Such new possibilities are intriguing and I look forward to returning again to ride the extensions.”

Adham also heads a music collective called 1000 Stations which writes songs exclusively about metro systems. Their first album, Metro EP, is out now.

I wish him well – the last time I went on a tram I saw Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze play a set…

UPDATE 17.2.13

Adham tells me that he did the ‘race’ in 55 minutes, 37 seconds with Highbury Vale counting as two stations. As one it’s 53 minutes, 50 seconds. I’m impressed!

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!

Trams at the speed of a snail

It was a few days ago that I blogged about the Nottingham Tram. I acknowlegded that there was going to be a short term mess – the trade-off was long term gain. The blog post has come back and bitten me sur le cul.


Works started near my office to prepare the route for the tram before Christmas – they have taken out the central reservation of the estate service road and are merrily digging up the island. We are reduced to one lane, so speeds need to be kept to granny pace. And then some traffic lights arrived (for health and safety reasons) – they last about 6 yards. Most people are just ignoring them (not me, obviously).

Yesterday we were told that the contractors want to slightly alter our access route into the office. This will prevent to road from being one-way for 7 months. Instead it will be closed for just four months. Thus (and the mathematicians will have worked this out already) saving us three months of pain.

All very reasonable?

Well not really. The length of road concerned is about 1/4 mile. 7 months to lay four bits of steel? Even four months is difficult to grasp.

I couldn’t help reflect on my previous visits to China. In seven months they would have built the entire line, constructed the rolling stock from scratch, trained all of the staff and carried their first million passengers. And then had a month off to celebrate?

What is going on? Are we employing the kindergarten kids?