Well it is now nine working days to MIPIM and major planning meetings are afoot around the UKR@MIPIM stand. The UKR Mission to MIPIM is a serious attempt to lead the public sector, in particular, back to market. It is a bold project. Why are we doing it? And why are we trying to start this in the worst market known since the war?
Well, it is a non-negotiable fact that MIPIM is the market leader in the international property conference circuit. My old boss Sandy Bruce Lockhart (Leader of Kent County Council) used to moan that MIPIM wasn’t held in Hartlepool. Well it isn’t. It is a 22-year-old success story held in the south of France. It would not work anywhere else and, short of starting a rival convention (which we can’t afford and which wouldn’t work), we need to engage with this one.
There are excellent business reasons for public sector agencies, particularly those with land or other assets seeking partners for development, to be at MIPIM. UK Regeneration is moving decisively to assist with the dilemma facing local authorities looking for a best-value route to market. We need to share best practices. We need to pool local authority experience and devise a blueprint for public sector attendees at MIPIM to get the best price for participation, and the best value for so doing. We need to track contacts made by local authorities at MIPIM over the last ten years and see what investment was leveraged as a result. Smart local authorities see that MIPIM is clearly a valuable forum in which to promote regeneration projects and attract inward investment. Having said that, with the huge cuts planned for public sector budgets over next few years, we’re going to have to work cuter and smarter if we are to keep local authorities – so very vital to the Cannes experience – in the MIPIM fold.
There is a major disconnect: local authorities are sitting on billions of pounds of assets, but the regeneration sector is stymied by the lack of a cost-effective mechanism to find the right partners. UKR will be working with its local authority (and other) members to make MIPIM work better for them. Cllr Alex King MBE, a senior local authority politician, hugely respected in the UK, chairs the steering group to plan and implement this initiative. We launched it at MIPIM 2010 and I am proud to be about to deliver it at MIPIM 2011. Our delegation is diverse and inclusive; one of the leading lights is Edinburgh City Council who are offering tastings of single malt whiskies on the stand – do not try to tell me we won’t be one of the most popular attractions!