Monday, 28th January 2013
This months Manchester Branch 'Rally to restore Confidence' event was a real success. Over 220 of the region's finest property and construction movers and shakers attended the breakfast event, sponsored by RSK Group and Ocon Construction.
It was an interesting format and one which we hope to utilise for future events. The panel was made of up of Sir Richard Leese (Leader of Manchester City Council); John Atkins (Manchester Airport Group Director of Airport City); Tom Bloxham (Chairman of Urban Splash); Ken Knott (CEO of Ask Developments); and Prof Gerry Kelleher (Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Planning at Manchester Metropolitan University).
The fbe President, Phil Laycock chose the Manchester event to introduce the concept of the Rally and how it formed part of a national initiative to start 2013 with a positive message. The event was the biggest breakfast in terms of attendance that the fbe had ever held in Manchester and also nationally and as a result there were close to 1000 people networking at fbe events across the UK
All speakers were informative and lively helped no less by the event's very own Dimbleby impersonator Michael Taylor of Downtown who is a very well informed and capable chairman.
Some key messages noted from the panel included:
John Atkins of MAG made the point that all companies whether large or SMEs need to look at not just the primary contracting tenders for developments like Airport City, but also the wider opportunities and public realm that stretch beyond main works… be smarter and focussed with business development
Ken Knott on the same subject recommended partnering of organisations to form stronger teams when bidding for work.
Gerry Kelleher – large tenders from public authorities will always have to go through the correct process and scrutiny from European rules and will invariably be favoured in many cases to larger organisations, however, partnering and early engagement can win the day.
Gerry 's view was that the University was looking to build more inviting and visible buildings and that this was key to their design philosophy going forward
Tom Bloxham - Manchester needs to concentrate of what Manchester does best and not attempt to copy other cities, we have a real sense of place here in the city, lets retain that and make the most of it
Sir Richard Leese – the city council is working hard to ensure training and apprenticeships are high on the agenda to help bring core skills back into the region, the town hall refurbishment job alone has created hundreds of apprenticeships as a core contract requirement.
Maintaining and developing green space was also a key issue for all the panel and they
all agreed that Manchester should look to retain as much of its natural beauty as possible and also develop useable rather than simply 'aesthetic', green and communal space when planning major developments.
The 'curved ball' question came at the end which brought the curtain down with a little bit of humour and the panel were asked to consider who their deputy prime minister would be should they be elected PM. The nominations were; Steve Jobbs, Basil Faulty, John Whitaker (Peel), Sir Howard Bernstein and Bill Clinton and its probably best that who chose who remains with those that were in attendance on the day . . . . . . . .
Did the attendees leave feeling more confident with more visibility of work?
There was less specific reference to the pipeline in the city than was anticipated but what was very clear was that Manchester is in very good hands and has a very clear plan moving forward across the private, public and educational sectors and will continue to flourish where as many of the UK's big cities look to follow London . . .at their peril