Recently in British Property Federation Category
And we find we're not alone in wishing to change the game. There is a real feeling of fin de siècle around the industry and the sense that we need to do things differently. Giles Barrie in Property Week has been making waves about how few women are represented in property (not a new theme, of course, but I believe he is getting much more traction this time around), and there are concerns being raised about the aging nature of the industry. This is on the heels of Chris Grigg having made those sterling remarks about lack of representation from black and ethnic minority groups in property, earlier this year. And there is a consensus emerging that we need to change, perhaps to be more people (or consumer?) focused, certainly to embrace more in the way of diversity.
Another prevailing theme at MIPIM (as I had picked up in this blog well prior to flying out, on 29 February) was that of the social impact of the property sector. My first experience of this was on the Wednesday at the (rather bonkers but nonetheless useful) debate at the Mayor's Round Table, reported in the blog 8h March, where a number of these themes began to emerge. But the real running was made at a lunch put together by the BPF and Real Service entitled "Broken Britain: the role of the property industry in mending our society and economy" which brought together some of the biggest (and most commercial) hitters in our field to debate a series of very fraught topics in the wake of the social unrest of last summer. Liz Peace and Howard Morgan are to be seriously commended for this brave and necessary initiative on the part of the mainstream of the industry. It is extremely timely. And I was not surprised that Damian picked it up in his editorial on Saturday's magazine as part of the "Build a Better Britain" Campaign.
I was rather thrilled to be able to put out a press notice that my old friend and long-time colleague Bernard Hughes - who, for well over seven years, has been head of public affairs at ASDA - has succumbed to our amorous advances to become the chairman of the Big Society Task Force for UK Regeneration.
And he's willing to make a start in February! Even Dr Evan's sense of urgency is assuaged.
Bernard and I were student politicians together in... er... 1706 (I think it was), well before he became the first-ever public affairs manager in the retail industry. He joined Tesco in 1991 and worked closely with both Ian MacLaurin and then Terry Leahy during his early days as chief executive.
I was with him in the corporate affairs team of Tesco for nearly three years and he and I worked together on the homes-above-shops movement; the advent of the in-town formats (the Metros and the Expresses); and our Section 106 agreements on new stores for local jobs and training.
Bernard left Tesco in 2000, when he went to Edelman before joining ASDA as head of public affairs in 2003. He was instrumental in formulating the supermarket's response to the Competition Commission and always very clear and resolute about the benefits of the downward pressure on food inflation to the less wealthy in our society (of which ASDA is the leading exponent, of course).
Well, as I was telling the lovely Ken Dytor and the rest of the BPF regeneration committee only yesterday, the very future of regeneration is hanging in the balance. We needed a real hitter for our work on Big Society. To secure the services of a professional of the calibre of Bernard Hughes to head this vital body for UKR is a terrific shot in the arm for us.
The Loud Lanky Lad is studying economics at AS level and his teacher seems to have a rather marvellous off-the-wall take on the subject. I have been reading LLL's course books, one called "Free Lunch" is particularly enjoyable and - well behind the rest of you I do appreciate - I have finally caught up with "Freakonomics" where I have learnt the secret to a successful blog......
It's all about reciprocity and back-scratching apparently. Oh the parallels!
Talking of reciprocity and back-scratching, I was out on Monday evening hoovering up the Sauvignon Blanc (which is drug of choice, after all) in the Black and Blue with that old smoothie, Alistair Parker of Cushman and Wakefield, plotting and scheming - as ever - about the British Council for Shopping Centres (BCSC) Conference being held in Manchester 9-11 November.
He is currently chairman of the BCSC of course and puts a huge amount of effort in; the old rogue and his team are planning a really good bash up there at GMex. Alistair has the energy of 10 men and he does tell it how it is. I was picking his brains about retail-led regeneration and he confirmed my suspicions that most of the old models are past their sell-by dates and we will need a new paradigm. He says it could be TIFs. I threw in my usual quip (somewhat glib and irresponsible, I do concede) about how TIFs were only a new form of debt and he got very agitated with me. Told me to shut up in fact. How very rude!
Nearly at last knockings on the wretched examinations, and frankly the end can't come soon enough. I guess my adolescent kids will then find new ways of putting me through the wringer.
To have a sprog doing A levels at the same time as another sprog doing GCSEs this year is very bad planning on my part, by any objective analysis. My West London Princess and Prince seem to think that the way to pass exams is do nothing all year round and then become a bag of nerves the night before the actual paper. All of this, naturally, justifies them giving their mother a good kicking in the process. And it doesn't seem yesterday that they were bundles of heaving joy, screaming the house down and puking on my best suit before a job interview.
Well, even if they're not swotting, I certainly am! I am still trying to get my head around the emergency regeneration measures in the Pre-Budget Report 08 and Budget 09, both for BURA, and to support m'learned friends in CBRE. And I'm trying to get under the skin of the proposals and ideas put forward by other organisations, such as the lovely Dermot Finch's Centre for Cities and the British Property Federation.