David Parkin on Northern exposure, dog days on the train and being mistaken for a success

David Parkin on Northern exposure, dog days on the train and being mistaken for a success

IT seems the Northern Powerhouse remains le subject du jour (as they are wont to say in Cleckheaton). Last week’s observations ensured plenty of feedback – leading to an entertaining swapping of texts with Leeds City Region LEP chairman Roger Marsh which ended with a few names of who both of us wouldn’t want to be lashed to in a three legged marathon. The Northern Powerhouse raised its head again this week at an economic seminar hosted by Santander featuring its UK chief economist Barry Naisbitt. After an interesting presentation, he was keen to get the thoughts of the business people in the audience and I was kindly put right in the frame by Neil Williams, Santander’s regional director in Yorkshire, who suggested I may harbour an opinion. Can’t think why? I said that for the Northern Powerhouse to really work it needs to embrace major transport and infrastructure investment as well as regional devolution. I’d been reminded of the limitations of travelling across the Pennines earlier this week when I sprinted to catch a train from Leeds to Manchester. Even though it wasn’t leaving at peak time, it was still packed with passengers and as I wriggled down a carriage I spotted a spare seat. “Yes the seat’s free but there is a dog under the table,” said the lady in the adjacent seat. I assured her and its owner that I like dogs and I wouldn’t step on it and then wedged myself into the seat with legs akimbo to ensure the solid looking Staffordshire bull terrier had enough space to relax. The rest of the journey...
David Parkin on Northern Powerhouse, MIPIM and Budget tittle tattle

David Parkin on Northern Powerhouse, MIPIM and Budget tittle tattle

PERHAPS it is because I wasn’t invited, but the news coming out of the MIPIM international property exhibition and conference in Cannes this week appears to have been rather muted. It has long been derided as a champagne-fuelled jolly – mainly by those who don’t get to go – but it is fair to say there are worse places to spend a few days in mid March. Although when it is scheduled the same week as the Cheltenham Festival there are a few faces missing, almost certainly Leeds-based property developer Phil Taylor, the man behind the glitzy Firecracker Ball which has raised a million quid for charity over the years. I once saw Phil boarding a plane to Nice at Leeds Bradford Airport, bound for MIPIM. He was pulling a heavy case. I asked if it contained his promotional material to hand out to potential investors and clients he might meet along the Croisette in Cannes. “No, it’s got 15kg of bacon and sausages in, you just can’t trust that foreign food,” he replied. The international event, which has attracted more than 20,000 property professionals to the Cote d’Azur this week, has seen cities and regions from across the UK promoting themselves at events that run from dawn until dusk, and beyond. I bet the Leeds City Region delegation hoped that they would have a devolution deal to talk about this year. Instead of being able to talk about investing in huge infrastructure projects and having more powers to attract major inward investors, they were unveiling images of a planned new motorway services on the M1 near Leeds. I...
David Parkin on inspiring names, inspiring views and inspiring women

David Parkin on inspiring names, inspiring views and inspiring women

IT’S been 35 years since that memorable broadcast by an ecstatic Norwegian football commentator after his country shocked England with a 2-1 victory in a World Cup qualifier in Oslo. Many of those that weren’t even born in 1981 have heard, or even quote the pay-off line to Bjørge Lillelien’s radio coverage: “Your boys took a hell of a beating.” It’s a great line but I always enjoyed his choice of great Britons in a list of names he used to illustrate the magnitude of his nation’s feat. Lillelien said: “We’ve beaten England 2-1 in football! It’s absolutely unbelievable! We’ve beaten England! England, birthplace of giants – Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana! We’ve beaten them all! “Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the World Cup in football. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars round Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating!” Great stuff. Why I mention it is that I was reflecting on the eclectic (or rag tag depending on your political stance) group of people who have banded together to campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union in the forthcoming referendum. Iain Duncan-Smith, Chris Grayling, George Galloway, Nigel Farage, Lord Lawson, Paul Sykes. They’re not really names to inspire most Brits, never mind a Norwegian football commentator. These individuals that are part of the Vote Leave campaign might have real passion on their side, but their diverse political views...
David Parkin enjoys some legal entertainment and books a date with Jordan

David Parkin enjoys some legal entertainment and books a date with Jordan

LAST night I enjoyed the hospitality of the Leeds Law Society at its historic dinner. Well it was actually the law firm Ward Hadaway whose table I was on for the black tie do at the Aspire venue in Leeds. My invitation came from past president Philip Jordan, a partner at Ward Hadaway, who had read my comments earlier this year about dull black tie business dinners. I’d said an invitation to such an event was a little like being asked to walk the plank by Blackbeard – you don’t want to go but you know you have to. My fears stemmed from an experience a few years ago, the last time I attended the Leeds Law Society Annual Legal Dinner when the guest speaker, who had been described as a witty writer-poet, got to his feet and told his audience from the legal community that he had only had two previous experiences of lawyers: first over his late father’s will and secondly during a rather bitter and protracted divorce from his ex-wife. I sat back and waited for the punchline. But it never came. His speech actually went downhill from there. Twenty minutes later when he sat down, the audience looked like they needed some kind of collective counselling. So I’m pleased to report that these days the society has done away with long speeches and gets the formalities out of the way before dinner is served. There was a good turnout of 350 people who certainly spanned the age ranges from legal firms both large and small. The vice president of the Law Society of England and...