Wednesday at MIPIM is always a bit of a blur but I (just about) managed to get to everything I was supposed to do. But it was a bit of a strain. We had an excellent session on the UKR Place Live stand on the future of public property assets, with Damian Wild of the EG asking provocative questions about the General Property Unit of BIS; Alex King of Kent County Council and I were on the panel. We are old friends and colleagues of John McCready, so we were supportive, whilst being cautious in our expectations. We are agreed that the property industry should not be viewing the potential disposal of public sector assets as some sort of future gravy train: this is our legacy and the rationalization should not be rushed.
As trailed in previous blogs, I was chairing a session in the main conference in the afternoon entitled “Making Regeneration happen in the UK” with a holy trinity of representatives from northern UK cities (Cllr Mike Whitby of Birmingham and Neil McLean, partner at DLA Piper and now Chair of the Leeds city region LEP – a hero really – and, natch, Sir Howard Bernstein of Manchester). A dash of internationalism was added by Wilfred Petrie of GDF Suez, who is partner of choice in energy provider for any local authority with savvy (I’m going to do some great work with these guys). It was a good session and I am grateful to Reed MIDEM for putting it altogether. I had a very slight spat, albeit massively good natured, with Howard and Neil about Enterprise Zones; they both expressed anxieties about the implementation of the new generation: Howard maintaining that EZs merely dislocate jobs, rather than create new ones. He says he is seeking “empirical evidence on the efficacy” of EZs so I said I would accept the challenge and go away and find him some. The gauntlet is down. Nobody has read the Centre for Cites report on EZs properly. It is a thoughtful piece of work which does not oppose EZs but simply urges folk to learn from previous experience.
Broadgate Estates were holding their annual MIPIM Dinner in the evening, and how nice to see friends (predominantly from the City of London) in the Gaston Gastonette on the Quayside. Idyllic surrounds and excellent cuisine, with very good friends, what’s not to like?