Thursday, October 15, 2015
Taking the business on the road
We operated from two different locations - one in the North of England, the other in Spain. The work tasks envisaged included day-to-day client contact, content development and all the necessary back office stuff like bank accounts, VAT, invoicing and general management. This called for a fair amount of planning as we were aiming to run everything from iPhones and iBooks which meant leaving PCs, NAS and paper based systems behind.
The first foray was for a short visit to an area which the government is referring to as "The Northern Power House." It is not anything to do with electrical goods or generation, or even a domestic appliance warehouse, but a vision to improve connectivity between England's northern cities by improved transport links somehow generating super economic power. There's big investment planned particularly in rail links - HS2 north-south and HS3 east-west, plus 40 major road schemes. Certainly the M1 had a huge amount of roadworks in progress apparently transforming this previously boring ribbon of concrete into an 'intelligent motorway." The region includes Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield and Liverpool and accounts for 16.7% of the UK population but has performed below the UK average for years. A lot is actually about Manchester, but we headed to Leeds and Huddersfield, basing ourselves in Brighouse.
As a measure of economic activity I find a quick count of how many cranes are dotted around the skyline is an interesting indicator - plus a chat with a taxi driver or barber. When I was in Leeds a couple of years ago, the taxi driver was very downbeat and gave the impression that there was little money being brought home by most people except by benefit cheats who seemed to provide much of his trade. Even then the centre of Leeds seemed busy with popular post code areas like LS 5 providing attractive residential options in the suburbs.
We headed to Huddersfield to meet in the Harold Wilson Building at the University. Despite having been Prime Minister and local MP, none of the undergraduates we asked for directions appeared to be aware of his identity or where the building that bore his name was located. The building itself was considerably understated compared to the expectation - not even a picture of Harold in his trademark raincoat enjoying a pipe of tobacco. Not much to see of the Northern Power House so far ....