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The Grouch 26/08/2010

Traffic Jam Sheik-up, McGrigors and Hammonds, LEPs and a complete Hunt

Published on August 27th 2010.

The Grouch 26/08/2010

More questions than answers over LEPs
More than 200 people packed into the Palace Hotel this morning to find out about local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) – the pot of cash that will replace regional development agencies and, well, pretty much any other stream of public funding. No wonder the room was so busy.

Readers of Confidential will already be ahead of the pack on this having read our report earlier in the week (click here), but a few other details were revealed by council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein and Chamber of Commerce head Angie Robinson.

Bids for the LEP have to be in on September 6, although how much cash Greater Manchester might get is anyone’s guess. The bid simply bangs the drum for the locality – it’s not a request for cash or a shopping list of projects that need paying for.

However, speaking to Sir Howard afterwards, the Grouch was told that the Government’s comprehensive spending review in October would be crucial and would probably give the first indication of Manchester’s chances of landing some cash.

Sir Howard said that the area would probably only need ‘£3m to £5m’ to convince the private sector to pile in and support the LEP although he was confident the region could attract “hundreds of millions” of investment off the back of a successful application. But there were plenty nervy glances and pleas of ‘don’t forget about us’ from the assembled audience.

One thing is for sure – the days of public grants for businesses are gone and spending on business support will be cut dramatically. Entrepreneurs; you’re pretty much on your own.

But the over-riding message from the powers that be was ‘wait and see’. Those turning up hoping for specifics may have been disappointed, but if it makes you feel any better, the politicians are almost as much in the dark as we are.

The future of football?
Manchester City launched its City Square fanzone on Monday night; the Grouch was lucky enough to be invited along. Effectively a posh burger van and outdoor bar, the square cost £3m and can comfortably contain thousands of fans in one end of the car park while they are relentlessly sold to on a big screen attached to the side of the club shop.

Manchester-based BDP designed the square, which looked lovely apart from some issues with ventilation and the force of Mother Nature, which led to all the smoke from the burger vans bellowing out across the gathered masses. In the rain.

‘This is the future of football,’ claimed one onlooker. ‘All the fans together in the same place’. The Grouch is not so sure though. If the Grouch were cynically-minded, he may suggest that it was an attempt to steal all the trade from the surrounding pubs – some of which the club have already bought – and off-site burger vans until City Square is the only watering hole for several square miles around.

It was interesting to note that on the night of the launch, City’s owner Sheik Mansour turned up; not only to witness a comfortable 3-0 win but also to check on his developing East Manchester empire.

And no doubt he jetted off into the distance, leaving the fans long behind? Well, actually not. As I climbed into a cab stuck in traffic outside the stadium, I noticed a rather sporty white Bentley coupe queued behind.

Kids were getting an autograph through the window. A player, I thought. Nope, it was the sheik himself. Driving his own car. Sat in traffic like everyone else.

Good man, I thought. Maybe he was looking for a decent pub.

Jeremy Hunt – a football man
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt decided to blog on the FIFA inspection team arriving to cast their eyes over England’s 2018 World Cup bid this week.

The team is coming to Manchester and Hunt is part of the England bid set-up. Deciding to mix his metaphors, Hunt said that deputy PM Nick Clegg ‘opened the batting’ (surely ‘kicked off’ would have been more on message?) before a video message from the PM stressing how passionate we are about the game in the England ‘and quoting Liverpool coach Bill Shankly's comment that ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death...but it is worth much more than that’.

However, according to the official Liverpool FC website, the famous quote is actually: ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’

Hunt is right however, when he says that our bid is commercially strong and comes on the back of an Olympic bid win.

The official vote is in December but the unfortunate reality is that the tricky politics of FIFA will probably play more of a part in the decision than just the ability to deliver it successfully.

Creative agencies sharpen studs for charity tournament
It seems to be a football fest this week, but the Grouch is limbering up for the Creatives’ Cup, a five a side tournament taking place on October 10. What else do you need to know? It’s for charity, raising cash for Marie Curie, and if you want to enter your creative team, you should visit www.creative-cup.com or e-mail: hello@creative-cup.com.

Lawyers make leap despite merger talks
Law firm Hammonds is in talks with US-based Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, which could result in the formation of a top 50 law firm. The firm’s construction team doesn’t seem so excited though, as they’ve all jumped ship to local rival McGrigors.

Ten lawyers, including partner David Moss who was international head of construction and engineering at the Hammonds Manchester office and whose clients include Manchester Airport, United Utilities and BDP have transferred. That takes the number of staff at McGrigors’ Manchester to 37.

Credit scoring
The Grouch is a man who likes to give credit where it is due, as well as asking for it in virtually every pub, off-licence and petrol station in Greater Manchester. So it would be remiss to not give credit to Leanne Forshaw, communications guru at Urban Splash, who actually named this very column, something I remembered the other day. So it’s all her fault.

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