Today, we had a session on the London Stand entitled “UK Cities: Strategies for Investment and Development” which gave an overview from Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and London on what the leadership teams were doing to drive economic growth in each of these fine places. An impassioned plea from Mark Barrow of Birmingham City Council for a High Speed 2 rail link led me, from the chair, to put the issues of HS2 to the vote. “Can I see those in favour of HS2?” I bellowed, whereupon every person in the audience (we had about 100 there) put their hand up. I wish we’d got a photo. Well, there you have it: the markets want the high speed rail links even if the nimbys don’t. Let’s hope the forces of good prevail. Another moment of splendid controversy was started by Peter Bishop of the LDA who said that it was about time London was properly integrated with the rest of the SE England. A member of the audience commented that she found it easier to break into Abu Dhabi than to penetrate the South East of England; sadly this had the ring of truth, even though it was somewhat unpalatable.
It is always a joy to catch Paul Finch’s MIPIM round up on the London Stand. I was there with the Capco boys (as you do) and the lovely Rupert Robinson of KPMG (still doing the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund; says it is still cold and dark in Norway) and we now have a book running each year on how long the Great Finch can keep up his fluent cod-French in the introduction. Lots of in-jokes of course! He kicked off with the Tchenguiz malarky, en français naturellement, and it was hilarious. At this point (about 5.30pm) people were still confidently predicting that Vincent would show at his party. In the event, the party went ahead, but I am given to undertaind that Vincent Tchenguiz was a no-show (I didn’t care, I had already hot-footed it up to Cap d’Antibes for the Dinner of the Year with a far more interesting group of people). But the Tchenguiz party seems to have gove well, as have all the parties.
It would seem that everyone had a great last night at MIPIM and this year has been regarded as a smash success.