Some people just want more, don’t they? During the British Council of Shopping Centres conference in the ‘northern powerhouse’ of Manchester, I found myself chairing a panel on the political issue du jour, devolution.
Joined on the platform by two of those involved in the Greater Manchester consortium of 10 local councils, I was surprised that while the likes of Croydon and Leeds are still fighting for their right to join the devolution party, councillor Ebrahim Adia from Bolton council believes the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) already deserves even more fundraising powers than the £1bn agreed with government.
Adia and his fellow GMCA member Bury council chief executive Mike Owen don’t just want the billion or so they’ll raise from business rates; they also want to keep stamp duty, hotel taxes and whatever else they can lay their hands on. They remind us the Greater Manchester area receives £5bn less in funding than it contributes to the economy - it wants what Manchester raises to stay in Manchester. Croydon has a similar view. Matthew McMillan, head of inward investment at the council, notes that London keeps only 9% of the revenues it raises and argues it should have more, claiming New York keeps 50% and Paris keeps around 30%. It makes sense, I guess. But isn’t the point to help the entire country? My fear is that if those in the devolution driving seat get greedy, those not in huge metropolitan areas will suffer with even less investment and services than they have now.
I was also struck at the BCSC conference by chatter that while the office sector may have reached its peak, the shopping centre market still offers great value, although as Capital & Regional director Mark Bourgeois points out most of the deals are off market. The deals are being done principal to principal, behind closed doors, where, as Bourgeois puts it, buyers and sellers can have sensible conversations. Quite whether investors in those assets feel they are getting the best returns is another question entirely.
Men with funny-shaped balls
I’ve always favoured the game played by men with funny-shaped balls, and as I make my way to Twickenham this weekend, I’m hoping the home nations show the southern hemisphere they can hold their own on the Rugby World Cup stage.
So when Lambert Smith Hampton went to the effort of examining how those cities hosting World Cup games had fared since the last festival of rugby in 2011, I had to look. We reveal on our front page and online how property rents across the retail, office and industrial sectors have changed and those host cities that have been kicked into touch. Worth a read when you have to look away from the game during those inevitable tense moments… for England anyway.